It is to you, friends and fellow Republicans, that these remarks are addressed, primarily.
We live in an open society based on the free circulation of ideas, the availability of information, and our political system is one of inclusiveness, so, to be quite honest and to avoid any false reticence, these remarks are also addressed to Americans who do not belong to our party and if fact consider themselves opposed to it — they would vote against us. Our system depends, however, on the interest of all Americans in civic and political affairs. I think it is a good thing for Democrats and independents, indeed even the socialists who support the comrade senator from Vermont who is giving the former senator from New York a stiff battle for their party’s nomination, to pay attention to the competition of men and ideas in the Republican Party, just as I expect Republicans to pay attention to what goes on among our political opponents.
Indeed, in American history — a subject not taught or not well enough taught in our schools these days, and I note in passing that it is one of the characteristics of our time that the more the federal government gets involved in shaping education and the more of our money it takes from us to do so, the worse the education of our children gets, notably in history but in every other subject as well, including tennis — in American history, I was saying, we learn that in the early years of our great Republic the candidates who scored the most votes, regardless of party affiliation, were elected president and vice president.
Now of course this is not a feasible alternative to the system we have in place today, nor would it do to revert to the restricted franchise that our great Republic had back then, but you have to admit the idea causes one to reflect that it might be interesting to elect the best men in the field, the best women too, from all the declared candidates. Frankly I would not mind, for example, seeing a Democrat win if his name were Webb. Jim Webb, until recently senator from the great state of Virginia, has fought for America, literally and figuratively, and his ideas are sound and he is sensible on just about everything that is important, including the teaching of history, to which he has contributed by writing important books. He is far superior to any other Democrat candidate, he is the only one among them who has not abandoned and forsaken the great legacies of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy and Henry Jackson and Joseph Lieberman. He is a true bipartisan, if bipartisanship is what you want, having worked in the highest reaches of government for Republican presidents. He is a patriot to the marrow, unlike, I am sorry to say, so many leaders of his party who have been on an orgy of denunciation of their own nation for the past decade or more.
My friends and fellow Republicans, I know you did not come here only to listen to a campaign speech in favor of a Democrat, but I hope I am clear that I am making a point today about the clear and open and free debate and discussion that is really the most important factor in this election. We must discuss everything on the table in clear simple and honest language, and this requires that we listen to Democrats and express support for those Democrats — there is only one, however, whom I know of — who, like me, agree this is what we must do.
There is much on our national table to discuss, my friends and fellow Republicans, and we should be grateful for this. It means we are a rich, complicated, dynamic country. And this is, too, why I want to welcome all my friends and fellow Republicans to this debate. I am glad they are here. There are quite a lot of them. This testifies to raw ambition, yes, and we should not disparage raw ambition when it is harnessed to a great cause, the cause of the success of our great Republic. It testifies, to be sure, to the failure of the current Administration, which to be quite blunt about it has been awful. America has not been well served these past eight years. An ever more bloated state sector, a complete abdication of international leadership, a ruined educational system, an astronomical debt, a denigration of our own nation and its glorious history, yes, my friends, there is a lot they, the Democrats, have to answer for and we are going to answer for them if they run away from debate during this campaign, and we are going to propose correctives.
Let us say these things bluntly, but in the course of this campaign let us say so with decent and thoughtful respect for public opinion: our fellow Americans deserve no less. Why has it been awful? Why are our national security, our prosperity, our children’s future less assured than they were eight years ago? We must say these things clearly, thoughtfully. We must explain, not merely denounce, spout silly clichés and slogans. We must propose ways out of the mess, ways forward for the great Republic.
That is why, too, my friends and fellow Republicans, I am delighted to see the broad field of candidates for our party’s nomination. E pluribus unum, you know — though Senator Kerry and the Democrats do not, evidently, know, and they pervert our national watchwords even as they mangle the Latin language — and my thinking is that from the many, some intelligent and sensible ideas will come, too, in the course of this campaign. That is why I am quite happy to have Mr. Trump alongside my eminent colleagues here, most of whom, unlike him, are politicians by profession. Mr. Trump is an honorable man. He is an outspoken man. I think he should tell us why he was a Democrat until just a few years ago. If he defected from the Democrats just recently and stopped supporting the former senator from his home state, the great state of New York, and turned against her as a failed secretary of state, he should tell us. This would go a long way to explaining to the American people why the present administration has left our country worse off than it was when it came into office.
There have been criticisms on Mr. Trump for his remarks. Perhaps they are legitimate criticisms. We should hear them. We should debate and discuss their substance. But let me say this. The American people, insofar as they have been paying attention to this campaign, have signaled, by the evidence of polling organizations, that whatever else they know about Mr. Trump, they know he is clear and level with them on certain matters of immediate concern to our great Republic, and this is more than they know about the leaders of our party, not to mention the other party and, I might add, the opinionated know-it-alls in the media.
My friends and fellow Republicans, if you know your history — and do you? — you will have caught that I am paraphrasing one of our greatest social critics and observers of our political scene, in a famous quip he made half a century ago with regard to another controversial public figure. Irving Kristol was no fan of the somewhat overwrought senator from Wisconsin, but he saw that “Tailgunner” Joe McCarthy, who by the way also had been a Democrat before winning election as a Republican, as indeed had been a certain Ronald Reagan, was putting his finger on a matter that was of concern to sensible, patriotic Americans, a matter that the political establishment and the media establishment were doing their damnedest to pretend did not exist. That is why Americans liked him and gave him their support, at least until in an excess of zeal he turned on one of our most venerated and respected institutions, the Army.
We will not receive the support of the American people, my friends, fellow Republicans, and we will not deserve the support of the American people, if we do not say things clearly and truly. That is what we must do in these debates and in this campaign. We must speak the truth to the powers that have usurped our democracy and that are taking our great and free Republic down the road to perdition. These powers include, let me say so, members of our own party. They include members of the media, and let me mention here that I, for one, will have no truck with the silly rules the mediacrats seek to impose on these debates the better to render them meaningless cheap entertainments instead of vehicles for information and thoughtfulness. I will be bound by no time restrictions or demands that I respect the totalitarianism of the language police, and I invite you, friends and fellow Republicans, to say the same, thus pre-empting the media’s efforts to script us and control us and prevent the American people from hearing what they know must be spoken.
Thank you all and now, let us argue.
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