|GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH|
August 3, 2000
The GOP presidential nominee discusses education, bureaucracy, and the search for a mandate.
Common sense and fairness
I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to the tax code. And I will act on principle.
On principle ... every family, every farmer and small businessperson, should be free to pass on their life's work to those they love. So we will abolish the death tax.
On principle ... no one in America should have to pay more than a third of their income to the federal government.
So we will reduce tax rates for everyone, in every bracket. On principle ... those in the greatest need should receive the greatest help.
So we will lower the bottom rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and double the child tax credit.
Now is the time to reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills.
The world needs America's strength and leadership, and America's armed forces need better equipment, better training, and better pay.
We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more ... a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform, and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.
A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam.
When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.
I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world -- to turn these years of influence into decades of peace.
And, at the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy missile defenses to guard against attack and blackmail.
Defending the American people
Now is the time, not to defend outdated treaties, but to defend the American people. A time of prosperity is a test of vision. And our nation today needs vision. That is a fact ... or as my opponent might call it, a "risky truth scheme."
Every one of the proposals I've talked about tonight, he has called a "risky scheme," over and over again. It is the sum of his message -- the politics of the roadblock, the philosophy of the stop sign.
If my opponent had been there at the moon launch, it would have been a "risky rocket scheme." If he'd been there when Edison was testing the light bulb, it would have been a "risky anti-candle scheme."
And if he'd been there when the Internet was invented well. I understand he actually was there for that. He now leads the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But the only thing he has to offer is fear itself.
That outlook is typical of many in Washington -- always seeing the tunnel at the end of the light. But I come from a different place, and it has made me a different leader.
In Midland, Texas, where I grew up, the town motto was "the sky is the limit" ... and we believed it. There was a restless energy, a basic conviction that, with hard work, anybody could succeed, and everybody deserved a chance.
Our sense of community was just as strong as that sense of promise. Neighbors helped each other. There were dry wells and sandstorms to keep you humble, and lifelong friends to take your side, and churches to remind us that every soul is equal in value and equal in need.
This background leaves more than an accent, it leaves an outlook. Optimistic. Impatient with pretense. Confident that people can chart their own course.
That background may lack the polish of Washington. Then again, I don't have a lot of things that come with Washington.
I don't have enemies to fight. And I have no stake in the bitter arguments of the last few years. I want to change the tone of Washington to one of civility and respect.
The largest lesson I learned in Midland still guides me as governor ... Everyone, from immigrant to entrepreneur, has an equal claim on this country's promise.
So we improved our schools, dramatically, for children of every accent, of every background. We moved people from welfare to work. We strengthened our juvenile justice laws.
Our budgets have been balanced, with surpluses, and we cut taxes not only once, but twice. We accomplished a lot.
I don't deserve all the credit, and don't attempt to take it. I worked with Republicans and Democrats to get things done.
A bittersweet part of tonight is that someone is missing, the late Lt. Governor of Texas Bob Bullock. Bob was a Democrat, a crusty veteran of Texas politics, and my great friend.
He worked by my side, endorsed my re-election, and I know he is with me in spirit in saying to those who would malign our state for political gain. Don't mess with Texas.
As governor, I've made difficult decisions, and stood by them under pressure. I've been where the buck stops -- in business and in government.
I've been a chief executive who sets an agenda, sets big goals, and
rallies people to believe and achieve them.
If you give me your trust, I will honor it ... Grant me a mandate, and I will use it... Give me the opportunity to lead this nation, and I will lead. And we need a leader to seize the opportunities of this new century -- the new cures of medicine, the amazing technologies that will drive our economy and keep the peace.
But our new economy must never forget the old, unfinished struggle for human dignity. And here we face a challenge to the very heart and founding premise of our nation.
A couple of years ago, I visited a juvenile jail in Marlin, Texas, and talked with a group of young inmates. They were angry, wary kids. All had committed grownup crimes. Yet when I looked in their eyes, I realized some of them were still little boys.
Toward the end of conversation, one young man, about 15, raised his hand and asked a haunting question... "What do you think of me?"
He seemed to be asking, like many Americans who struggle ... "Is there hope for me? Do I have a chance?" And, frankly ... "Do you, a white man in a suit, really care what happens to me?"
A small voice, but it speaks for so many. Single moms struggling to feed the kids and pay the rent. Immigrants starting a hard life in a new world.
Children without fathers in neighborhoods where gangs seem like friendship, where drugs promise peace, and where sex, sadly, seems like the closest thing to belonging. We are their country, too.
And each of us must share in its promise, or that promise is diminished for all.
If that boy in Marlin believes he is trapped and worthless and hopeless -- if he believes his life has no value, then other lives have no value to him -- and we are ALL diminished.
When these problems aren't confronted, it builds a wall within our nation. On one side are wealth and technology, education and ambition.
On the other side of the wall are poverty and prison, addiction and despair. And, my fellow Americans, we must tear down that wall. Big government is not the answer. But the alternative to bureaucracy is not indifference.
It is to put conservative values and conservative ideas into the thick of the fight for justice and opportunity. This is what I mean by compassionate conservatism. And on this ground we will govern our nation.
The GOP presidential nominee remarks on the president's purpose and the spirit of true leadership.