UNTIL 9:30 A.M. May 14 FOR PM'S OF MAY 14
Presidential Announcement Speech"
thank you all for being with us today. I especially thank the members of the
national media who have come so far out of their way to be here. We are very
proud of Russell, but we recognize that it is not a major media center. On the
other hand, it is very nearly the center of the United States--so those of you
who like to be in the middle of things are pretty well situated.
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am announcing today that I shall seek my Party's nomination to the office of
President of the United States.
have no illusions about the magnitude of the undertaking; neither have I any
undue concern for the magnitude of the problems associated with it. Financing,
logistics, simple human effort or the lack of these may conspire in time to
defeat a candidacy, but they cannot deter it at the outset. The magnitude of the
endeavor rests not in the institutional necessities which must carry it forward,
but rather in the expectations which any candidate must engender and then
satisfy in the minds and the hearts of the American people. This is the great
is the task of reasserting a common faith in all that we once set out to be as a
nation, a shared confidence in those means established to help us grow and
prosper in freedom, and a common conviction that we are in truth what we say we
are: a nation that hews to the self-evident truth that "all men are created
in America, no truth is self-evident any longer. Instead, self-doubt
increasingly characterizes our public life and our private lives as well.
is evident in the dwindling numbers of Americans who go to the polls to vote. We
say that the franchise is a right--but that alone does not describe it; rather,
it reduces its significance. The franchise is a great gift paid for again and
again by the courage and sacrifice of previous generations. Yet, today so many
of our people ignore it. They doubt that it matters--which is to say they doubt
that they have any control over events, over our nation's business, its
direction and its destiny.
is evident in the growth of single-issue constituencies. Overwhelmed by the
range of issues which confront the nation, many of our people doubt their
capacity to understand them and deal with them. Many retreat to narrow concerns
which they can grasp and which they believe they can influence: should we use
nuclear power; should we have the right to bear arms?
do not see this as an occasion for despair, but as an occasion for hope. I see
it as a dawning realization of the contradiction which has shaped and misshaped
our national life for forty years: that a nation constituted for, and
consecrated to, the individual should have been led to believe that the
individual could best benefit by relinquishing his hopes, his responsibilities
and his very individuality to government.
there are those who insist that our great difficulty is that Americans don't
believe in their government. That may not be true. The great difficulty might be
that Americans no longer believe sufficiently in themselves.
we have a President who goes about insisting that he will be
"personally" responsible for this, and "personally"
responsible for that. He means well, no doubt, but what he says is without
meaning. We don't need a President who says he will be "personally"
responsible for things he can't do anything about. We need individual Americans
to be "personally" responsible again for their own lives, and the life
of this nation.
do not intend to campaign against those who serve in government. They are no
better and no worse than the rest of the American public--they are a part of it.
It is absurd to say we must have a government as good as our people. This
assumes that the people, whoever they are, are wise and generous and good, and
that those in government are all devious, dumb, and stingy. It isn't so. Those
who serve in government reflect the nation; human, with human strengths and
the federal government, in its size, cost and reach is too large for this nation
and, in its capacities, too small. The size of government today reflects some
people's mistaken belief that government has magical powers which the individual
does not possess, and ignores the fact that there is no power on earth greater
than that of the individual in a free society.
government we have institutionalized compassion, forgetting that compassion is a
human virtue that comes from the heart, and that institutions lack these
attributes, and so they fail in doing the compassionate thing--in helping to see
that children are adequately clothed and fed and educated; in assuring that the
elderly are cared for and loved rather than warehoused and tolerated, in seeing
that the needy are helped to provide for themselves. In the face of these
failures, the institution--the federal government and those who exalt its
capacities--insists that success will come with increased expenditures, with
increased size, and with increased authority.
mind that as a people we are poorer because government takes our money and its
purchasing power, and our incentive; that we are endangered because government
constantly increases its control over us. These are second order consequences.
The real tragedy is that we are poorer and we are endangered because government
takes away our need and our obligation and our opportunity to behave as
individuals, as human beings, toward each other.
is the major problem which confronts us in this great land. It is the source of
cynicism in a country that was not born out of cynicism but out of hope. It is
at the root of the desperation which causes so many of our people to thrash
about for something to believe in, something to hold on to, something to shape
lives they no longer believe they can shape themselves.
is my concern in the campaign ahead. It is, in the words of an American poet, to
let America be America again. It must be an America which understands what it
means when it speaks of rights-civil rights, human rights, individual rights,
equal rights. It is true as Burke said, that "all men have equal rights,
but not to equal things." The man who lives in a row house and rides the
bus has the same constitutional rights as the man who lives in a mansion and
rides in a limousine. Yet, the one has no right to the wealth of the other, and
the other has no right to prevent the first from achieving whatever he may
within the confines of the law and his own abilities. They are equal before God,
before the Constitution and before the law. But it is arrant nonsense to suppose
that because they may not be equal in ability and ambition government should
equalize their portion of the material advantages which flow from the unfettered
exercise of ability and ambition.
we can eliminate this and similar misconceptions about the purpose of government
then we can get away from building the federal budget and the federal
bureaucracy and get back to building the nation.
is my message in the campaign ahead.
will neither attack my opponents in the Republican Party, nor the incumbent
President. My fellow Republicans have views which the American people must
weigh, and the President has a record which must be considered and accounted
for. I am sure we will be diligent in helping to consider the record, and I am
sure the President will be equally diligent in accounting for it.
are, of course, a number of concerns which confront us and I mean to address
them in the months ahead, though I give little attention to them here today.
is the state of the economy. Since our economy today is managed largely by
government, its failure is simply one more failure of government. We have
rejected hard wisdom, short-term sacrifice and long-term prosperity for
immediate political advantage and immediate personal gratification. Our leaders
have persisted in the view that we could spend ourselves rich; that we could
grow fat by devouring ourselves.
that plan discredited, we seem uncertain where to turn next. I don't mean this
as a criticism, but I simply point out as an example of the confusion of goals
and methods that one of the first official acts of the present Administration
was to increase the salaries of some of their staff by sums in excess of 100%,
sometimes reaching 150 to 200%, and they now insist that the average American
workers should forego pay increases in excess of seven percent. Our economic
difficulties are broader and deeper than this example, but the will to cope with
them is fairly reflected there, I think.
concern is peace. We have enjoyed a peace established in 1973, and squandered it
in some measure, and it is becoming an increasingly uneasy peace maintained
largely by retreating in the face of Soviet and Soviet- sponsored aggression
around the world. it is a difficult thing to make a peace--but it was done; it
is a difficult thing to keep the peace, and I think we are failing in that
regard. our economic position, our defense position, and our prestige are being
rapidly eroded around the world.
preach international morality, but we don't practice it, and the world knows
the Middle East, we have tried to compromise Israel to buy Arab oil, and that
effort is not over yet.
the Far East, we walked out on Taiwan for a public relations success; to suggest
mastery of foreign affairs we accepted an arrangement with China which had been
available to us since 1973 when the door to China was first opened.
any or all of these incidents, and many more, could be structured into a
comprehensible pattern that we might call U.S. foreign policy then, whether we
agreed or disagreed with the policy, we and the world would have confidence that
at least a policy and a unifying vision existed. There is no such confidence,
and the next step away from confidence in foreign affairs is grave, dangerous
doubt. This is not a time for grave doubts about the U.S.' ability to conceive
and manage a foreign policy.
we will be discussing these things and more in the days ahead.
will offer no slogans; slogans are no substitute for ideas, and novelty cannot
replace hard, painful thought if, as we hope, government is to be a shared
national endeavor once again rather than a costly entertainment.
intend to promise only the possible, so that when I am successful in my aims I
shall have occasion to disappoint as few as possible.
do not propose just to make people believe in government again; but rather to
urge that they believe in themselves again. I do mean to remind people that our
founding thinkers and our constitutive documents all aimed at institutionalizing
doubt about government, in keeping that doubt foremost in the public mind, and
in providing the means to limit the power of government and to protect the
individual against it. And none of that has to do with the calibre or character
of people who make up the government.
do not urge that we turn our backs on the future. I urge that we recover some
old truths about ourselves as a people, and that we be guided by these as we
face the future. The truth is that today many Americans have doubts about the
future of this nation. We have to eliminate those doubts. I believe we can.
do not agree with Henry Adams that politics is "the systematic organization
of hatreds.” We fought a terrible war--and these plains which surround us
today were drenched with the first blood of it--for the proposition that a house
divided against itself could not stand. That truth is no less compelling today.
When you divide a people to conquer an office, the division is maintained in
order to hold the office--and a divided people are a weakened people. There are
natural adversary relationships in America; it is irresponsible to exacerbate
the adversarial nature of these relations for political advantage-to single out
the businessman or businesswoman or the working man or woman as scapegoats, or
the farmer, or the poor, to set one region against another, one economic group
against another. This is demogoguery. This we must not do.
so I mean to wage a whole campaign. I will be speaking with our friends in the
Democratic Party as well as Republicans and Independents, believing that neither
party has a corner on wisdom. We seek not a Democratic approach or a Republican
approach to the nation's future, but we seek the correct approach and it will
combine the best thinking and the best efforts of all.
will be meeting with black and brown and red and yellow and white. Events in the
world are forcing our nation's doors open again, and they should be open if we
are to call ourselves Mother of Exiles. We must not fear that new Americans
threaten to diminish a finite national wealth. We must rather work to increase
that wealth. New blood, new brains, new energy will help. Joseph's coat was a
coat of many colors, distinctive threads woven together in one strong fabric. It
is an ideal we have sought through our national history. We must continue,
confident that we will be judged not by whether we succeeded, but by whether we
will be reaching out to women and to men--whether in politics, in business, in
the labor market or in the home. When we insist that women "tell us what
they really want," we cast ourselves in the master's role-benevolent,
perhaps, but superior nonetheless. We are not patrons, we are partners. That is
not a sentiment, it is a reality. It is not a reality which we have fully
accepted and assimilated, and this we must do.
will be meeting with labor as well as business. So often we see them as separate
and distinct entities, enemies in constant conflict; and some have found it
useful at times to encourage that false perspective and generate hostility for
political gain. Labor and business are joined together like Siamese twins. Each
may have its own goals and interests, but neither can accomplish anything
without the other. We must reduce government’s role as a third party in the
labor-business relationship, as a court of first and last resort. Each have
their own strengths and their own capacities to contend with the other. Let them
do it without intervention in any but the most grave circumstances.
I will speak to the young as well as the adult and the elderly. Those too young
to vote are nonetheless American citizens, with a stake in our nation's future
and with a capacity to grasp-if we trouble to explain--what are the concerns
which effect us all. It seems to me foolish to work to build a nation for our
children, and never tell them what we are doing or what are the real
all, I mean to say what I stand for and speak plainly so that the American
people may know which weaknesses of mine they will have to make up for or
accommodate, and so they may know which strengths they can count on.
there is this: I know I might have chosen a
different forum for this occasion. The National Press Club
offers splendid hospitality. The Senate office Buildings provide
a beautiful and dramatic setting. There are many places easier to reach,
came home simply because the strength I need for the undertaking before me is
here. I know that as I travel the country in the weeks and months ahead, I will
be heard and helped by others who agree with me, who will consider my views and
examine my record and judge my capacities and they will determine, as they
should, whether I succeed or fail.
there ought to be at least one place for every person where he or she is
accepted with unjudging love and strengthened and reassured by it, and for me
that place is here. I was born here, I left for awhile, I was hurt and I came
back. I was helped and healed in this place by my townsmen and I began my public
career here. And whenever I have set out on a new path, I have come back here to
begin. No failure has ever been so hurtful that this place could not ease the
pain. And no success has ever been so great that its satisfaction exceeded the
satisfaction of being a part of the people of Russell, a citizen of Kansas.
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