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POLICY ORIENTATION FOR THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE 2014
BREAKFAST KEYNOTE (January 9, 2014)
THE HONORABLE RICK SANTORUM
Thank you very much, Chuck, appreciate it. Thank you Brooke, and thank you all for inviting me to be here. It is great to head south. I was in Dallas the last couple of days and come down to Austin and spend some time down here. I was here a few months back when you were in your special session and trying to pass a great pro-life bill and I want to thank you for that for standing firm and tall on that issue. I am excited to come here to talk. I don’t know if this is a coincidence or not but obviously all of the talk in Washington D.C. these last few days has been about the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty and there’s been a lot of soul searching and examination by Republicans as to sort of what our reaction to that is and let’s just be very honest about it. Over the past 50 years the Republican Party and the conservative movement has not particularly been active and vocal in this area. Let’s just make it very clear pronouncement: We haven’t focused a lot of public policy on low-income folks and climbing the ladder of success. We focused on the big picture, the whole idea that a rising tide raises all boats and we focused on economic growth and we focused on growing the economy and creating jobs and if that happens everybody will be fine.
The problem is in America today, by the way, that was the agenda of Ronald Regan and it was fine. But the problem today in America is there’s a lot more Americans with holes in their boats and the holes in their boats come from a variety of different reasons but we have a lot of Americans today with major holes and so when that tide rises, they just sink deeper. And that’s why you’re seeing this big talk about this income gap in America. And it’s real. There is a huge gap in America and it’s something that we at our peril, but I will give credit to President Obama, he identified that issue and talked about it. His solutions are frankly disastrous and will lead to and in fact have. The income gap has broadened over the past four years under President … in fact, accelerated over the last four years under President Obama. So his policies are not the right policies but the one thing that he does and the other side does that we don’t do is that they talk about it and they try to focus some policy pronouncements on it and if you look at the election from the last election and one of the most telling statistics from the last elections were that among people who saw the issue as ‘does this person care about me and people like me?’ Barack Obama won 82 percent of the vote among folks who believed that he cared or identified with people like him and it’s very hard to win an election when your swing voters, and that was a big swing voting group, you have to get 50 percent of the vote from people who don’t think you care about them.
And so what I wanted to come and talk to you about; give you a little bit of history of me on this issue and then talk about how we can go forward because I think this is a tremendous opportunity for us. The work that’s being done here at the foundation is incredibly important. Chuck’s work is incredibly important but it provides a basis. And Texas, the reason I always liked to come to Texas, is because I think you folks have a role to play and Chuck talked about what goes on here in Texas, what goes on in California. You folks are the model of what’s working and in many respects what you’re doing here is working. Obviously if poverty is substantially lower here in Texas than it is in California then what’s going on in Texas just to be generous is doing better than what’s going on in California. But there’s more we can do and if it comes out of Texas, it has umph because you have clout because of the size and power and the success that’s happening here. So think about this as a real opportunity not just to affect things here in Texas but by doing so really affect the national debate on the issue.
Let me give you a little bit of a background on me because I have not come to this issue lately. When Chuck mentioned I got elected in a congressional district that was 60 percent Democrat against a 14-year incumbent who had never gotten less than 14 percent of the vote. I got redistricted; we lost two congressional districts and I got elected in ’90 and we lost two districts in ’92 to Texas and one of them was mine so hopefully whoever was in that seat enjoyed their time in congress. But they eliminated my district and broke it up into four different congressional districts and they put me in against a 28-year Democratic incumbent in a district that was 71 percent Democrat that included the old steel valley of Pittsburg called the Monongahela Valley. That was my congressional district. Every old broken down steel mill, every brown field, I had them all and I got 63 percent of the vote when I ran for election in 1992 and George Bush, 41, got 29 percent of the same year I got 63 in that district. How did I win? Because what I did is I went out and talked about the issues that were important to the people in my community. It can happen. You go out and you fight for the things that you believe are important. You don’t worry about partisan lines. You go out and talk about issues.
And I went into those communities irrespective of the demographic of that community and talked about hope and opportunity and one of the things that I’ve always focused on is the importance and obviously it was my district but it was the importance of manufacturing. Because manufacturing is really the opportunity for people who have lower skills, lower education, to be able to get a job that’s decent enough paying that they can rise, get skills and actually have stable lives. One of the things we focus on as republicans that I think we have to be concerned about is we always talk about opportunity and the entrepreneur and getting ahead and climbing the ladder and getting at the top and being able to be successful. You know most Americans don’t want to be at the top of the ladder. They want a good solid job. They want to be able to raise their family. They want to be able to spend time with their children. They want to be able to work in the local communities and volunteer. They’re not looking to; you know, not everybody is like us. Republicans are by and large Type A personalities, right? And they want to climb to the top, they want to take everything on. Not everybody’s like that.
A lot of folks just want to be good simple folks and be able to work 9:00 to 5:00, do their job and go home and do the job that’s important to hold America together which is to be a part of their family and community. And that’s a good thing but we don’t talk about that. We don’t talk about the important part of people’s lives outside of work and opportunity. There’s lots of other things that add to the American’s greatness other than our wealth; in fact more important things in some respects. But we don’t talk about that. I’ll give you an example. In the 2012 presidential race, I spoke on the second night of the Republican National Convention. And you may recall that during the campaign that Barack Obama got up and made some offhanded comment about he didn’t build that, or you didn’t build that, business person didn’t build that. Well on the night of the convention on Tuesday night where like I said I was speaking, they had, I walked into the convention for my walk-through and there were placards on every chair in the arena and it said ‘we built that’. And so the whole night was dedicated to ‘we built that’. And I went back stage and I met all the folks as the convention was going on and there were all people from all different states and all different walks of life and every ethnic group you can imagine, men, women, etcetra. And they all went out there; a small business man, a large business man and talked about how they built that. And there wasn’t a single person that they had on that stage who was a factory worker in the business that was built by one of those folks who got up and said ‘I’m here because someone risked and it made all the difference in my life’.
We had all of our people talking to all the folks who already agreed with us; no one reaching out to the people who were job holders instead of the job creators. That’s our problem is that we don’t talk to the people who want to be with us. If you look at what the Democratic Party has to offer which is just more government, more bureaucracy, more handouts. They know that doesn’t work. They don’t want it. It’s not as much of a stigma to receive them as it used to be; which is not a good thing. But they don’t want those things. But at least they care. People say how can Barack Obama win? How could he win when the economy was so bad, things were going so poorly, how could he win? How did FDR win a third term as President of the United States when in his second term unemployment hit 25 percent? How did he win? One word — Fear. When people are really afraid and they’re uncertain and unstable and someone goes up and says I’m going to take care of you; I care about you. It’s very different than when a group gets up and says I’m going to cut this, I’m going to cut that; I’m going to cut this. And you don’t talk about hope; it’s all about cutting. You don’t talk about opportunity; you talk about getting rid of things. Our program’s awry; our messaging stinks. We don’t tell stories. We don’t communicate. We don’t relate. I was talking last night about how important it is for we republicans to go out and communicate a hopeful, optimistic positive message that relates to ordinary people and ordinary people are not policy wonks.
I talked last night about how the difference between a republican and a democrat; I don’t know if this is true in the Texas legislature but it certainly is true in the United State Senate and the Congress, Democrats and Republicans talk differently. Republicans get up and talk public policy and facts and figures and use pie charts and line graphs and numbers. Democrats get up and tell stories and use pictures of people in bread lines and soup lines and tell stories about people who are hurting. Believe it or not, America today, most Americans are used to getting their information through stories, not through facts and figures. That’s not a good thing but it’s the reality of who we are. And so we need to be a party and we need to be a movement that is willing to go out and sort of take a step back and communicate in a way that effectively touch peoples not just in the intellectual way but also in an emotional one. And this is an opportunity for us. People say is there any hope for the country? The answer is yes. If there’s any proof in that, it’s here. Look at what you’re doing here. Look at the success you’re having here in Texas. But we need to be able to communicate that message in a compelling way.
We need to show that what we believe in, what we care about is not just the guys at the top in getting tax cuts and creating economic growth, but we care about everybody having an opportunity to be able to rise and succeed in society and have policies that address. One of the areas that I talk about all the time is the importance of the family, the importance of the family as an economic unit. I was during the presidential campaign we had 22 debates I was involved in and up until the last few debates I was sort of the guy out there on the far edge of the debate that got like one or two questions and the questions were always about gay marriage and abortion. Okay? Because I was the social conservative candidate in the race. And so literally every question I got, in 20 debates I never got a question on healthcare. Never was allowed to answer a question on healthcare. They were all about moral and cultural issues. If there was a rape and incest question, I knew it was coming to me. I just knew.
You may remember this one debate where they had folks they had people from all over the country going on TV and asking the question. So a guy gets up and he’s got a U.S. Army shirt on and he talks, I’m a gay soldier. I said okay, this is coming to me; I know that right away. And of course it did. And by the way, I was the only one that had to answer the question. And so I knew what the media does this. They pigeonhole you, right? They don’t want you to talk about it. And because they said well the only reason Santorum’s even in this race is because he’s a social conservative and the pro-life people support him. What was not true. The message; I wasn’t going out talking about abortion. I was going out and talking about the importance of family, yes. I would talk about faith, family and opportunity and freedom but I would talk about it in the context of how a family was important for the health of the economy, for the health of our community and that the word ‘economy’ comes from the Greek word for family, right? And Oikos. And that’s really important to understand. The first economy is the family. And if you look at any statistics the people who do the best economically are married people. Single families, single parenthood is a one-way ticket by and large to poverty. But we don’t talk about that.
We as conservatives who are pro-family; there’s no, we’re all wrapped around the axle on this whole gay marriage thing. The reason gay marriage is an issue at all is because we’ve lost what marriage is. We’ve lost the importance of marriage in society. We’ve redefined it even before that. Marriage used to be about two people coming together to have and raise children, to do sacrificial things for the next generation. That’s what America, the American dream was about that. Not just about my grandfather came here, yes. That he come here because he wanted to be free, yes. But he wanted his children to have a better life; that was the purpose of his life was to make things better for the next generation. That was the American dream. We don’t talk about that. We just focus on us. Why? Because this is the culture does. They gotten us to sort of buy into their idea of what American dream is which is success and wealth and things for you. No it’s not. America’s always about making it better for the next and willing to sacrifice for the next. And that’s what marriage is about. It’s not about romantic love between two people; yeah, that’s part of it but that’s not the key to what marriage is. Marriage is about sacrificial love for your children so they can have a better life than you had.
That’s the beauty of what America was about. It was always about something bigger than yourself. Sure it was about doing things good for you but it was always more than that. America wants to have that hope again. We need to be the party that gives them that but we need to talk about it. We can’t be afraid to talk about those issues of family and marriage. We can’t be afraid to talk about the dignity of every human life. That’s the foundation of our party because we believe in the dignity of every human life. We believe they have God-given rights; not rights given by the Obama administration or the Supreme Court, but given to them by God and as a result of that they have dignity and value and worth and therefore they have to be treated accordingly. Those are the things that if you want, in my opinion, you want to reach out and talk to folks who aren’t voting for us. It’s because they don’t think we connect with them. We don’t think that we are where they are in their lives. And if you go out with an agenda and some plans to talk about how we can heal marriages. I talk about; I’m writing a book by the way that’s coming out in a few months called Blue Collar Conservatives and one of the things that; I mean, I talk about a lot of different things but I talk about a program that was started in Chattanooga Tennessee called First Things First. It’s now going national; there’s lots of cities that are now participating in it. But it started about 10 almost 15 years ago now in Chattanooga.
When they found out in Chattanooga this nice little sleepy town in Tennessee, that they had one of the highest rates of divorce and highest rates of out-of-wedlock births in the country. And so they got together as a community, business, government, education, public schools, churches, community and civic organizations, they all went together and they put together a plan where everyone would participate to promote marriages as a good, to promote fatherhood and mentorship, responsibility, to discourage out-of-wedlock births. Talk about the benefits of marriage; do counseling for divorce within churches, public campaigns about the importance of marriage. Believe it or not most people in a lot of communities in America, they don’t know what marriage is. It doesn’t exist. If you go into the poorest communities in America, more than three-quarters of children are born out of wedlock. It doesn’t exist. Nobody knows people who are married. They don’t know what marriage is or the benefits; they’re from generational single parenthood. And we just assume, and I said last night you know I was talking the people in Midland living in a bubble and in many respects we do, particularly Conservatives, we live in a bubble. We don’t realize what’s going on in so many communities, or what the popular culture is. How many of you watch primetime network television every night? I suspect none of you.
So you have no idea what the popular culture is. I mean, you might watch a reality TV show just because it’s popular like Duck Dynasty or you might watch The Voice or American Idol but you don’t watch the dramas and the comedies and you don’t see the values that are being inculcated into the American psyche. It is not about marriage. It is not about family. It is not about the dignity of every human life. We have to be active not just on that front and you know I’m a head of a movie studio and we’re working in that area. But we have to do also from a public policy and political standpoint. There’s a great opportunity. America still is the greatest country in the history of the world. The opportunity still exists for us to pull this back. But ladies and gentlemen, we are at a tipping point. We are at a tipping point in America. One of the reasons I ran for president; this is the last thing I say, am I allowed to take questions, is that okay? Yes. Okay, I have to ask Brooke before I do that. We’re at a tipping point. The reason I ran was because of Obamacare and what I thought that meant to the country. That Obamacare was the tipping point, that once the federal government has control of your health and therefore your life, we’re done.
You see any country that has gone to socialized medicine which is ultimately what Obamacare leads to, you never come back from the precipice and never able to regain and so it is vitally important we fight that battle; we fight Obamacare, we go out there and take it on because it will not work in America. It’s fundamentally un-American and I know people and the press is going to have a field day with that. But it is un-American; it doesn’t work in America. We are not the same culture which all these other cultures that have adopted the socialized medicine. It doesn’t work. It grates against who we are and you’re seeing that now and you will continue to see it. America, in my final comment, America if you want to know the difference between America and the rest of the western world that has gone in the direction it has, that has gone over the cliff, and their cultures and societies are dying. You want to look at Western Europe? They’re dying. They’re having 1.2 kids for every women of childbearing age. What does that mean? That every 30 years the population of that country is cut in half. They’re dying. The European population of Europe is declining and it’s going to continue to decline. It’s a death spiral. There’s no way back because it continues to decline and there are more older people that need benefits than younger people working. They make it harder and harder and all these big service networks. They make it more expensive and even less likely for those people to have children.
And again they’re secular countries so there’s no religious values that teach the importance of faith and family. Why? Because they are a descendant from a different revolution than we are. We are a descendant of the American Revolution. The American Revolution was based on this principle, not in the constitution but in fact in the declaration. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” America is a country of God-given rights and the government’s job is to protect those rights. The government’s job is not to allocate rights, not to create rights but simply to protect the rights that we have because we are a children of a loving God. That’s who we are. No other country in the history of man has ever founded this country on that principle. They’ve all, many have copied in some form or another our Constitution. Everybody focuses on the Constitution and how important it is. It is but that’s not remarkable. America’s Constitution is not remarkable vis-à-vis lots of other constitutions. What is remarkable is our declaration. If you look at the left and particularly in the jurisprudence, you know what the biggest move is right now?
To eliminate the declaration as a legal, have any kind of legal standing within jurisprudence. That’s their big move and there’s a reason for it. Because without the declaration our constitution is as dangerous as it is is if you put in in France or you put it in any other country. The French revolution was the other revolution that happened at the same time as the American Revolution and that revolution was distinctly different. There were three words that were the formation of the Fresh revolution; liberty, equality and fraternity; not paternity. Right came from your brother, not from God. Right came from the government, the mob. It was a specifically secular anti-God, anti-clerical revolution. They wiped out the priests, the churches, the clergy and they instituted a system that allowed for a secular socialized Democracy in the end and that’s Europe today and that’s why it’s dying. When you hear people say they want to turn us into European Socialists, understand what that means. You see all this hostility religion? Barack Obama could have done Obamacare a million different ways when it came to contraception and abortions but he choose a way that directly went after something that they see as a problem for them which is people of faith and faith in America. You see this assault on faith ongoing. There’s a reason for that; because it’s in the way.
It’s a problem for them to get to where they want to be. He could have implemented Obamacare. If he wanted to make sure that everybody had every contraception available to man and have it free? You could have made it available at every pharmacy in America. Just have it free. People walk up, pick up free government subsidized, no problem. No. No, what did he want to do? You will pay for it. You must carry it in your insurance. Even if it breaks your religious tenants; doesn’t’ matter, you will do it because the Government is the one who rules here. You hear them talk about freedom of worship instead of freedom of religion as if it’s the same thing. It’s not. When you go look, particularly in the state department. They started over there and now it’s filtering into the rest of government. The state department for years has been talking about freedom of worship. Worship is great but worship happens within the four walls of the church. Religion happens once you walk out of the church and practice it in your life. And they’re okay. If you’re in the church, we’ll leave you alone but once you walk outside that church you are mine.
There are so many important issues but I can’t think of one that’s more important than freedom of conscience in America. And the beautiful thing about Obamacare is that it covers all of the issues, all of the different interests. Everything from our economic freedom and our relationship with our government and our taxation and freedom of choice and policies to the very foundational issue and the freedom of conscience. It needs to be the No. 1 issue that we focus on but again we have to do it in a way that’s positive, uplifting and identifies to people where they are. I’m excited. Hopefully you can tell that. I’m excited about not just this next election but the opportunity we have with the debacle of this administration on every front, the opportunity we have to go out and restart with the American public about who we are and contrary to what some would believe, we are not a party that is every man for themselves. We are a party that believes in the common good. We believe in the dignity of every human life. And we believe that we have a role to play in structuring a society that creates a good life for everybody irrespective of where they are in the economic ladder. That is something to really get excited about. I look forward to talking to you about it.
About ten minutes of questions, okay?
I’ll take a couple of questions. Yes sir.
I’m curious, why in the world do Republicans all themselves to be controlled by the idiots you allow them to do? Oh thanks. Sorry, I’ll rephrase that. Why do you get yourself; really two questions. Why is Texas going so late in the elections that we have no input on who the president is? Why don’t we go first and quit letting Iowa lead the way? Obviously they’re not leaders. Secondly how do y’all get yourselves…
Well I don’t know, I won Iowa so I think they’re pretty darn good leaders. Well, Texas is going to go at least in this primary March 1 which is the first state after the four carve outs and so we’ll have and in fact you know with early voting Texas will be voting prior to two of the four early primaries so I think Texas will have a huge, huge impact on it. And that’s a good thing. I mean, I’m excited that there are a lot of conservative states that are going to be early in the process. My concern is and I voice this that the RNC rules are a lot of these conservative states I think I won 11 states. I don’t know if you knew that or not. But I won 11 states in the primary against Romney. And six or seven of those states, at least in this next election, are in this two-week window right after the four carve-outs which is March 1 to March 15. A lot of, and obviously those are conservative states in the south and Midwest which was the area that I won. And according to the RNC all of those states have to be proportional. Now, why would they want to do that?
Well, the argument is well we don’t want folks like Texas or California or New York move into the first week of the primary and then having in a sense a national election. I get that; I understand that; if everyone was winner-take-all but the problem is most of the big conservative states are going to be in that two-week window and the Conservative candidate if there is one at that time is going to have to divide up their votes. I mean, one of the reasons I didn’t do as well in the race against Romney is Romney had this “well look he can’t win; there’s no way he can get to the delegates that he needs.” And the reason is is that most of the liberal states are winner-take-all. New York’s a winner-take-all. I mean, California is a winner-take-all. And most of the conservative states are proportional. And so the moderate goes in and gets 30 percent of the vote, get 30 percent of the delegates. You have a couple of other candidates; they take a few. And the conservative candidate goes into New York and gets nothing. And so it is an issue. I don’t know; it looks like the RNC is going to adopt this rule.
My recommendation is for some of these conservative states to move out of that window; move back a week or two so you can be winner-take-all, so a conservative candidate can win and get a big chunk of delegates it can have an impact. That’d be the legislature would have to do that in Texas to move to primary. But as it currently sits Texas is going to be proportional and so you got the biggest delegate cache; 155 delegates, but if you’re the first state after the first four, there probably in all likelihood will be a few candidates, three, four probably, Candidates are still viable. So they’ll all get chopped up and then California will come in with their 162 delegates and get winner-take-all and the moderate will get a big chunk in the Conservator out of Texas which should be the big boost is going to get 40 delegates, 50 delegates. So those are issues that it’s in the weeds but it’s an important thing to think about. Yes sir.
Education. What do we need you to do to get discipline and education back in the schools?
Yeah, education is a very very important thing. I will tell you that other than Focus on the family issues that education is a huge problem in America. And if you look at the areas that are shaping the culture, shaping America, obviously the popular culture is big. I mean we are consuming enormous amounts of video content and its absolutely changing the moral landscape of the country as well as the economic landscape of the country as people learn a very different view of what economics and success really is. But education is just as bad. I always go back to the fact that we allowed; we in the community allow the Left to take over the education system in this country. We did it first with allowing the teachers’ unions to be able to organize and collectively bargain and that gets them the absolute desire to go out and elect people to the school boards who will agree with them so they can give them more money but of course teachers’ unions are to the Left. I mean, they’re hard Left. And the most popular history textbook, the most read history textbook in American history classes today was written by a Marxist; Howard Zinn. That’s the most popular textbook taught in American schools today.
How did we let that happen? Because it’s sort of my final pitch. I didn’t give it today but I will give it. The reason that we are losing is not because there aren’t more Conservatives in America than Liberals. There are more Conservatives in America. Every poll you look at, I’m not just talking Texas, I’m talking everywhere. Every poll you look at for the last 30 years, there are twice as many people who identify themselves as Conservatives as Liberals and it hasn’t changed. It’s about 40 percent Conservative, 20 percent Liberal, 35 to 40; 15 to 20. So why is this country moving the way it is? How has that happened? I go back to the Declaration of Independence. Does anybody know the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence? The last phrase is “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” We won the revolutionary war for one reason. We didn’t have better troops. We didn’t have better armaments, We didn’t have better supplies, We didn’t have better leadership. Heck, 20 percent of the country was for the other side. How did we win? Because we wanted it more than they did. Because we were willing to risk everything; put everything on the line, focus every aspect of our lives to win our freedom.
That’s what the other side has. They have the revolutionary zeal to transform America and they do. How many of you have been; some of you here in, how many of you have been sued by the left. They come after you. They don’t give you a corner. The last time I was here in Austin, I give this as an example across the country. The last time I was here in Austin I spoke for the pro-life thing. I spoke to a group of Students For Life who came in a bus from Washington D.C. to come down and help stand out in front and wear their colors to help the abortion debate. Later that day, I guess the next day there was a report in the local paper about how this group had come from Washington D.C., came down here to help support the Pro-Life cause, they were sleeping at a local church but the church didn’t have any showers and so they had to shower at the local YMCA. Well, later that day after some folks at the YMCA Board I guess found out that these kids were showering there, they went to the YMCA, complained that these people were showering there and I’m told they threw the kids out. They don’t quarter anything. They are all in. They are in in their schools. How do you think we have the textbooks that we have? Because they fight. How do you think we have the Bible out of our schools? The Bible, the foundation of western civilization, the most important book of the last 2,000 years and we don’t even mention it in our schools and then we wonder why our children have no faith, why they have no understanding of morality of decency or justice and why did it happen?
Because we let it happen. There is nothing in the Constitution; I don’t care what the courts say, there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the teaching of that book in our classrooms. Nothing. We accept it because some court or some group of five justices said so. Stop rolling over. They don’t. They keep fighting. They keep coming back. They keep lurking. We don’t. We are the happy content status quo. They are the vigilante revolutionaries and they’re winning because we’re not fighting. So you want to fight? Everybody says what can I do? Here’s my answer: Something. I don’t know what it is but somewhere there’s a fight that you just ignoring and not paying attention to. How many people knew about the kids from the YMCA? How many people called the YMCA? Ha. How about that? None of you. Why not? They fight. They have a passion. Why? Because they want the power. See, we’re all about freedom, live and let live; they’re about power. They’re about wanting their way. They talk about tolerance, bologna. They are intolerant of everybody that doesn’t agree with them and they will force it down your throat and we sit back and let them do it. Texas Conservatives let that happen. Don’t. You want to set a model? Start fighting. Everywhere.
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