Alan Keyes' Presidential Candidacy Announcement Speech
[applause] Thank you. Thank you. [applause]
Praise God. Praise God, indeed.
[applause] I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much for that fantastic welcome.
I am very pleased and proud to be standing with all of you today, especially since I know that all of you are committed as I am to the principles and the success of the conservative cause in America. [applause] And I believe [applause] and I believe that we are also, all of us happy and confident in that cause today because we can look back over that last several years with the realization that there is no defeat strong enough to knock us out, and that those who mistakenly counted out the conservative cause and conservative values and conservative principles in America certainly had cause to think again last November [applause] when a conservative wind blew across this Country that nothing can stop. [applause and cheering]
We are [applause]... We are right now... we are right now still happy and many of us in our spirits still celebrating that triumph but I for one hope that we have not missed the signs. The signs that suggest that something began in November -- it certainly began amongst the people of this country. But I'll be honest with you. I am not sure it is yet completed amongst the leadership. I believe a strong and clear message was sent by the people of America and I suspect that some of the folks out there, particularly in the media -- they've tried everything they can to explain away the November result. They have interpreted it in every bad way possible. It's the result of mean spirited, angry, white males trying to take it back from America. All kinds of nasty stuff that they've been saying. But you know, the one thing they didn't get? The one thing they didn't get, I think, that was quite clear and was clear in all the polls and surveys I've seen. This was not an election that was about anger and resentment. It's not an election in November that was about money, and economics, and greed. It's an election that was about standing up for the basic values and principles that built this country and made it strong. [thunderous applause]
It was an election, [applause] It was an election, [applause] Thank you. [Keyes removes his watch from his wrist and sets it on the podium] It was an election, [applause] It was an election that was clearly aimed, I think, at one thing. I got a good strong message from it. It was a good strong message that Bill Clinton and the values that he represents, Bill Clinton and the culture that he represents, Bill Clinton and the people like Joycelyn Elders and Donna Shalala [spontaneous boos from audience] that he represents were roundly rejected by the American people, and I know that all over this country there are folks who are saying in their hearts they wish they didn't have to wait two more years to send them all packing! [thunderous applause; cheers]
But we've got to know [applause] ... We've got to know as well that there were some disturbing signs. That what began in November has yet to be completed even in some of the precincts of the Republican Party that benefited from it so much. I still have a question in my mind, which I put personally to every senator who voted for it, as to why it was in the Fall of last year after the American people sent the clear message that they wanted their money home and they wanted their power back in their hands at the grass roots that so many of them chose to vote for a treaty that put that power in the hands of unelected foreigners in the World Trade Organization. [thunderous applause] I do not understand those votes. [thunderous applause]
And I believe... I believe... I believe that every senator in the United States Senate, whatever Party label they wear, they owe an explanation to the American people as to why they cast their vote in such haste for a treaty that sacrifices the sovereignty of our people. They owe us an explanation and I think in the course of this election cycle they're gonna have lots of opportunities to provide it! [laughter; applause]
But you know, I see other signs as well on the horizon. And they are signs that disturb me even more deeply. The American people, I believe, sent a clear message about the values and principles they wish to see restored to our life and our politics. I don't think it was an accident that when the dust settled after the election in November, the Republicans took control of the Congress of the United States on the strength of victories overwhelmingly won by moral conservatives, by Pro-Life conservatives, [applause] by people who stood without shame, without apology for the basic values of right and justice that have been articulated in this country since the beginning. They were folks who stood up, not in the back rooms but right on the platforms and declared their support for the rights of the unborn. They were people who stood up, not in the back rooms but right on the platform and declared their willingness to champion the moral attitudes that are essential to the survival of our family life. And I believe that in the next few months in the course of this election season, we're going to have to put some other questions, pointedly, with civility, but with frankness to some of the leaders in the Republican Party. Given that the American people spoke so clearly of the need to address the underlying moral crisis of this time, why is it that so many of them seem willing to back away from that crisis, to back away from the issues that must be addressed if we're to get this country back on the right track. [applause]
I want to know, how it can be ... [applause] I want to know how it can be that there are those in the name of "big tent" and this and that other thing, but really, if you want to know it, for the sake of political expediency, who think that it's important for the Republican Party to back away from the stance of moral principle that it has stood for since its beginning.
And I want to spend the next few minutes, not just telling you what I stand for, cause I don't think that's enough. I want to spend a few minutes explaining why. Why it is that I believe that the issue of abortion and the Pro-Life issue is not just some issue that's on the table out there. It epitomizes the central issue of our time. For involved in it, is the question of how as a people we define our freedom. Do we define that freedom as the license to do whatever we please no matter what the consequences to innocent life, and human rights, and public principles of justice? Or do we define that freedom as the Founders did based upon respect for law, and personal and public moral discipline, and moral decency? The founders made it clear that freedom and limited government go hand and hand with decent character and respect for law and moral standard. [applause]
And I think that we make a grave error as a people if we believe that we can easily back away from their understanding. But in the course of the last several decades, we have been invited to do so. We have been invited by the Supreme Court of the United States to accept it as a principle of right, that the women of this country have the right arbitrarily to take the lives of their unborn children when they get in the way. Now I think that there are people, many people in this country, who believe that at the level of moral conscience that issue is decided. They know that abortion is a moral wrong. And not only is it people who'll line up on the side of the Pro-Life movement at all. No. There are others. As a matter of fact, if you look seriously at their position even the Pro-Abortion forces believe that abortion is morally wrong. They do.
Why is that Bill Clinton wants to make abortion "safe, legal and rare"? Last time I looked, the only thing that we think of as good when it's rare is a steak! Mostly, if you want something rare it's because you think it's wrong and shouldn't be around. And I believe that Bill Clinton has a bad conscience about abortion. I believe that Henry Foster couldn't decide whether he had done 7 or 60 or 200 or 700 abortions. He "misrepresented", to use the euphemism, his involvement with abortion. Now why would you do that?
If you've been praying outside of an abortion clinic and you manage to move the spirit of 7 or 8 ladies to save that unborn child and take another route toward adoption and keeping that baby, do you feel ashamed of it? [resounding response from audience "NO." ] Do you say, ah well... well, I didn't save those 6 babies yesterday. No, you don't say that because you're not ashamed of it. Henry Foster doesn't want to tell us how many abortions he performed because as he has said himself, he abhors abortion. He abhors it because he knows in his conscience and in his heart that it is morally wrong. And I'll tell you, [applause] I believe that the great majority of the American people believe it also, but they have a problem, some of them. They say: "I know it's morally wrong but I don't have a right to impose that view on anybody." They say: "It's a matter private conscience."
And you know, there are issues like that in America that are a matter of private conscience. And whether we disapprove or approve of the actions someone else is taking we know that we don't have the right with government coercion to interfere. That's what it means to have freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. That we do get to make different judgements about certain moral things. But when those moral things touch on the basic principles of our public life, when those moral things violate the basic premises that establish our identity as a people, when those moral choices go against the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence that declare that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights, then we not only have the right -- WE HAVE THE *DUTY* to stand up and say: NO WE WILL NOT SACRIFICE THIS NATION'S PRINCIPLES. [standing ovation with thunderous applause]
We must [applause] ... we must also understand [applause]... but we must also understand that this issue not only has consequences for our principles, it has consequences for all the practical problems we face as a people. Now I realize that since I began trying to articulate what I believe to be the fundamental importance of the moral issues of our time, there have been people going around saying: "Now, that's not very practical. We've got to deal with these money problems. We've got to deal with these budget problems. We have important decisions to make about welfare reform and crime and so forth and so on. That Keyes is alright as an inspirational speaker, but as a practical matter we've got to get on with the business of government."
And I'm thinking to myself: "Who are we kidding here?" [laughter] Oh, think about it. When was the last time you read an article about poverty, about crime, about the problems in our educational system. When was the last time you read an article that had something to do with all the money that we are spending to deal with the consequences of illegitimate births and violence in the streets and violence in the classrooms and the schools that didn't point to one overriding truth, that every single one of those problems is tied to the disintegration of the marriage-based two parent family -- the most important moral institution in the land. [thunderous applause]
When [applause]... when are we gonna wake up, my friends? When are we gonna wake up?!
The moral problems of this country ARE its practical problems. The moral problems of this country, the failure to inculcate the discipline, the responsibility, the sense of loving obligation that is at the base and root of family life is driving every problem that we are trying desperately to pay for. And we will go on trying desperately to pay for those problems until we run this country into bankruptcy, if we finally don't turn and take a stand on the issues that matter most. [applause] It has got to end. [applause]
And you know, since I started and had the opportunity to articulate that a few weeks ago before a national audience, I want to tell you I've been overwhelmed by the response. Overwhelmed not just in the sense that our phone boards have been lit up and the folks at the Friends of Alan Keyes Committee have had a hard time keeping up with the response [female voice from audience: "We love you!"] I have been overwhelmed [male voice from the audience: "yes"] by the depth of feeling that people bring to this issue [another voice: "yes"]. You know, I believe that in the midst of all of the things we necessarily feel, we feel a lot of anger and indignation and frustration about the problems of our time, and sometimes we are tempted too to feel a lot of hopelessness. [another voice: "yes"] But in the last several weeks, as I have met this response from so many people around the country, it has been for me a rebirth of a profound sense of hope and confidence in America and her people.
Do you know, this country didn't become great by all the means that some of these people think, by the genius of scientists and political leaders and great ones hither and thither. That's not how this country was built. It was built on the struggle and the strength and the faith and the decency and the fear of God of so many millions of ordinary folks, whose names will never be written in the history books, about whom there will be no lines in the famous songs and stories of our era, but who -- every single one of them -- saw in their lives to live up to the basic standards of decency that would make them good mothers and fathers and friends and business people. They built this land. And I'll tell you something. We may look at the afternoon talk shows and the journalists and the TV shows every day and they may come across with the view that this country is greedy and mean and corrupt and full of licentiousness. But it is NOT so. We are still a country of decent folks and decent parents and decent families and decent business people and decent church going, believing people who mean to stand for what is right, not JUST in the public arena but in everything they do in their lives [applause] and they are there [applause] ... they are there in numbers. They are there in great numbers. They are there in numbers making the businesses and the families work.
And you know, it's time, I think, that we return to one simple basic standard. Not a standard of perfection. Let's be frank about that. None of us are free of our problems and our sins. You know the problem of our time isn't that we are sinners. We've always been sinners. The problem of our time is that so many people are tempted these days to repeal the difference between sin and not sin; right and wrong. Who don't want to feel the burden of guilt and shame that goes along with knowing that you stepped out of the right path -- but you know you never get back on the right path if you lose the sense of which way is north. We have lost our sense of direction and IT'S TIME THAT WE RISKED THE GUILT AND SHAME OF GETTING BACK WHERE WE BELONG. [applause]
We [applause] ... But we're gonna have a lot of help [applause] ... we're gonna have a lot of help, because that basic sense of right and wrong, that basic striving to do what is right that has helped this country get out of the mire of slavery and the mire of segregation and the mire of abuse of workers and women and children, that same sense of decency is at work in the country today. It's at work in the Pro-Life Movement demanding that we respect the lives of the unborn children. It's at work in the lives of home schoolers and people who have decided to take their responsibility for educating their children seriously.
It's at work in the lives of so many people who have decided that it's time to stand up and demand something we haven't gotten in a long time. And I for one plan to demand it. Cause I've been moved by the last several weeks. I've been moved by the recognition that there are people out there for whom the back room politicians won't speak. For whom those who aren't willing to put the issues of moral crisis and moral identity on the front burner of this nation's concern are not speaking.
And I have realized that in spite of whatever may be the challenge, and the difficulty, and the hardship involved, somebody has GOT to stand up and SPEAK FOR US! Somebody has GOT to STAND UP and FIGHT FOR US! [thunderous applause]
And so I have decided [applause] ... I have decided, and it was not an easy decision, and I want to call out four reasons why it wasn't easy --
Jocelyn would you bring the kids up here? Come on. Come on. Quickly now. [applause] Come on! Gotta move! Let's go! Come on. These are my reasons. I want to show you my reason why this decision was so difficult for me, cause I know that in the course of the next several months it means I'm going to have to spend a lot of time away from the most beautiful and important people in my life. I'm going to have to spend a lot of time away from home and family and kids and when you have a home and family, a wife and kids like I do, that IS a great sacrifice. [applause]
But I'll tell you something [applause] ... I'll tell you something. I believe that just as I take great pride in my family and in the love we feel for one another through ups and downs and hardships, I know that there are millions of Americans who take pride in THEIR families, and who are sick and tired of the culture we have allowed to develop in this country. A culture in the media, a culture in the journals, a culture on the television shows, a culture in the movies, a culture everywhere including in government policy, that has no respect for the parents, that has no respect for the families, that has no respect for the sacrifices we have to make to try to raise our children to be decent and clean and good.
And I believe that it's time [thunderous applause] and I believe that it's time [applause] ... it's time, my friends, we / have / got / now, right now, we've got to raise the banner. It's going to be a banner on which will be emblazoned, I believe, the simple basic principles of the Declaration of Independence. But I want to spend just a second to remind you of the real meaning of those principles. We always think about the rights, don't we? We always think about how it says we all have unalienable rights. Have you thought lately about where those rights are said to come from? They don't like to teach it in our schools anymore cause they've tried through this phoney doctrine of separation of church and state to separate GOD from our Country! [applause]
But the truth of the matter, the truth of the matter is that right there, not in a religious text of any sect or denomination, but in the fundamental statement of civic, public, principles of justice of our great nation, it was put very well: We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. From that endowment flows all of the institutions of self government we hold so dear. Because of that endowment we must have representative government and elections and due process. Everything we value as a free people flows from that one source that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights but there's one step nobody likes to take! Somebody could stand up and say: well so what if God endowed us with certain unalienable rights. So what! I've got the power. I've got the money. I've got the guns. We don't have to respect those rights. The other step that we've forgotten about is that if it means anything to have that endowment from God, then in order to respect it and respect the human rights of all, we must respect the authority of God. [applause]
And I'll tell you. For all the people out there who want to separate God from this country, I think it's quite clear from the Declaration that you separate God from America and you have separated this people from its freedom. WE / MUST / SAY / NO! [applause]
But in saying no [applause] ... in saying no we've got to remember something else, that that respect for God's Law and God's authority implies a discipline. It implies a responsibility. It implies a willingness no matter how often we go wrong, to respect the standard that distinguishes between right and wrong. It requires that even when it hurts. And even when it means with difficulty looking into the eyes of our children, and our sons, and our daughters, and our wives, and our sisters and our other relatives, we have to be willing to look at them and say, that we don't have the right to do what violates that fundamental charter of rights which comes to us from God.
If we want to remain a free people, then we will have to become again, a people able to respect the principles from which our freedom derives. We will have to become again a people capable of adopting the view of human nature that doesn't say passion excuses everything. But says instead that God has given us the ability and the wherewithal to govern our passions and to establish for ourselves a society in which freedom, because it is ordered and based on self government, is a blessing and not a curse.
And so I want to say, that I am going to be in the course of the next months and difficult as it may be, I'll be raising that standard, in the arena of Presidential politics, for I have decided [Alan begins to casually replace his watch on his wrist] to throw my hat in the ring [voice from audience: "YES!!!"] and I formally declare here and now, that I will be and am a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. [thunderous applause; standing ovation]
But I want to say something.. Thank you ... you've got to understand though...thank you...thank you...thank you...thank you...thank you... But can I ask you something? I want to ask it of you. I want to ask it of everybody who hears about this that people keep asking me in the media and elsewhere: "Well, what about your chances? Are your going to be able to win?" and so forth and so on, and I keep telling them that this is not a horse race! [laughter] And that even though they always talk about it if it is, that's degrading and debasing our politics.
I am, like anybody who gets involved in a race, there's something in my mind that will think someday about winning and losing. But I'll tell you something. I think we're all sick and tired of those folks who go out there and think so much about winning that they don't care how they win. Who think so much about winning [applause]... who think so much about winning that they are willing to back away from the issues of principle and right that make it worthwhile to win.
And I can state unequivocally that I have only one intention in this race. I am going to raise the banner of those principles on which we stand in common, Black and White, Christian and Jew, and Moslem and Hindu -- an American banner. And I am going to raise that banner in this politics. But I'd ask something of you. Cause I think if we're to take this Country back then each and every one of us will have to raise that banner in our families, and raise it in our businesses, and raise it in our schools and our churches and our communities, cause this can't be a campaign that's about winning power in the government. It's GOT to be a campaign that's about bringing back the responsibility that is the true source of power for our people. [thunderous applause]
And in that spirit [CNN special anchor, Joy, cuts in and CNN directors drop Alan in a large background window and cut the sound on Alan's continued speech to barely audible while Joy from a smaller window in the foreground but with full audio introduces Bill Schneider CNN political analyst.]
[Alan continues through the applause] And in that spirit ... and in that spirit ... and in that spirit ... we can move forward and we can drive these issues home to the hearts and minds of people knowing that win, lose, or draw, we will wake up the day after this campaign believing in our hearts with all our might that for what we did, for what we achieved, we have won a great victory for American principle, and THAT is the victory that matters most.
If you care about THAT. If you care about that victory, if you care about those principles, if you care about bringing this country back to the banner of family, and faith, and responsibility, and fear of God, then I invite you, win, lose, or draw, to stand with Alan Keyes.
Take your courage in your hands. Don't worry about the money. Don't worry about the backers. Don't worry about the endorsements cause there's only one endorsement that matters on the election day and that's the voice of the people and the Voice of God, and they will speak for us if we STAND for what is right.
Source: Alan Keyes for President 1996 Website
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