FEBRUARY 26, 2011
Thank you very much. I am really honored to be here. There is no place I would rather be than in this city, at this conference, in your presence at this pivotal moment in history. The Tea Party movement you have birthed is one of the most transformational social reform movements not only in my lifetime and your lifetime, but in American history, and we will not rest until we restore this country to the principles on which it was founded.
We are here not just to listen to speeches or listen to prospective presidential candidates who seek the mantle of leadership. We are here to assert that what made America great was not that it was founded to advance a given race or ethnic group. Unique among all nations in the history of human civilization, we were not founded as a result of a church schism or because we no longer wanted to be dominated by another people.
Rather, this nation was founded on an idea. And that idea, other than the Gospel, is the most transformative truth in the history of the human race. It is this: all men are created equal in the eyes of God, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable or inherent rights, among which are the rights to life, liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. We formed a government for one reason only, and that is to protect those God-given rights.
Our founders went further and asserted---and it is easy to forget how radical they were for their time---that if that government so formed at any point in the future ever failed to protect those liberties or abrogated those freedoms, then we have not only the right, but the moral obligation to overthrow that government by force if necessary, and form a new government that will protect our rights.
So when they tell you that you’re radical, just quote the Declaration of Independence and the founders. What you know---and what Washington has forgotten---is that America was not settled by a Department of Covered Wagons operating out of the nation’s capital.
It was settled by God-fearing, hard-working Americans who tamed a wilderness and settled a continent with three tools: an axe, a plow, and a Bible. Those were their tools. When I speak to conservative audiences, I remind them there was a fourth tool: a gun, and we have a right to keep and bear arms as a result.
John Adams had it right when he said, “Our Constitution was designed for a moral and religious people only.” By that he did not mean there should be a religious test to serve in government or participate in civic life, for we were the first nation in the history of the planet to specifically forbid a religious test to hold public office. Adams was making a more subtle and significant point: the only way to have a limited government confined to the enumerated purposes of a written constitution devolving all other powers back to states and communities is when people do the right thing without being forced to do so by an overarching government because they are animated by an internal moral code.
This idea that liberty and freedom are the birthright not only of every American but of every single human being has echoed from Lexington and Concord to Tienaman Square in Beijing to Tahrir Square in Cairo to Tripoli and Tehran, and people all over the world will someday be free because we had the courage to stand up as Americans and assert this truth.
The Tea Party is reclaiming this founding ideal. You rose up and correctly stated that an ever-expanding, encroaching government necessarily limits liberty. As government expands, liberty contracts, as if, as Ronald Reagan once observed, by the laws of physics. We are going to continue to make our voices heard in the precincts, at the ballot box, in the halls of state legislatures and local government and school boards, that we want the government to do nothing more---not one thing more---than is specifically authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
Now the political establishment has reacted to this with abject horror. And I don’t know if you noticed it or not, but they’ve been calling you names.
They called you evil, compared you to the Nazis, said that you were racists, and suggested that you were fomenting violence in word and deed.
Well, I’ve got news for the punditocracy, the press, the cognoscenti, and the opinion elites who tell lies about you and engage in unspeakable smears against you for exercising your most basic rights of citizenship. Our right to organize, and speak out, and petition our government has been purchased by the blood of those who bore the ultimate burden and paid the ultimate price , whose graves dot a thousand battlefields on every Continent in the world, from Normandy to Inchon, from Verdun to Danang, and now in Baghdad and Kabul. They surround us now, in the words of the Apostle Paul, like celestial witnesses, cheering us and urging us on. We will not allow their sacrifice to be in vain, we will not let them down, and therefore we will not be silent, we will not be intimidated, and we will not go away. We are here to stay.
In early 2009 when Barack Obama’s job approval was at 71 percent and the media was throwing rose petals at his feet, average folks like you poured out into the streets and to state capitals all across the country. You organized initially at kitchen tables and on Facebook and other social networking sites, and when everyone else was counting us out, when everyone else said government is the solution and we have to give up more of our freedom so government can solve the problem, and you went out and changed the greatest nation in the world.
And in 2009 and 2010, we replaced Nancy Pelosi with Speaker John Boehner.
We replaced Steny Hoyer with Eric Cantor.
We replaced Jon Corzine with Chris Christie.
In Ohio, which everyone else said was gone to our principles, we replaced big-spending Ted Strickland with freedom-loving John Kasich.
And in Florida, the fourth largest state in America, we replaced Charlie Crist with Rick Scott, and I think that was a pretty good trade.
And Scott Walker is the new governor of the state of Wisconsin.
And don’t forget about Marco Rubio, who is going to be an eloquent spokesman for our values at the national level for the next 25 years.
I have been organizing at the grassroots for 30 years and I have never seen anything like what you have accomplished in the last two years. The Faith and Freedom Coalition commissioned an election night survey by Public Opinion Strategies that found that 27 percent of the entire electorate identified themselves in 2010 as members of the Tea Party movement, while 41 percent of all voters shared your public policy views and goals.
Now, I know sometimes when people go to Washington their I.Q. drops 20 points---and some have more room to spare than others. (Laughter) But my message to the Republican leadership in Washington is if you turn your back on the Tea Party movement and its supporters, you will consign yourself to permanent minority status. (Applause) I thought you might agree with that. (Laughter)
Ronald Reagan once said that the closest thing to eternal life on this planet was a federal government program. But change is coming. Because after we get done extending the Bush tax cuts permanently and repealing the unspent portion of the Obama administration’s failed economic stimulus plan, we’re going to take on Obamacare.
Let me tell you what we’re going to do with Obamacare. We’re going to restrict it, defund it, proscribe it, repeal it, replace it, and end it now and forever. Then we’re going to take it out on the front lawn of the Capitol and hold a funeral service, and leave it on the ash heap of history as the most failed and discredited monstrosity ever foisted upon a free people. (Applause)
I want to close by telling you as a friend that I have seen this movie before. I was there in 1994 when we gained 53 House seats and 10 Senate seats and we thought Bill Clinton was finished. He wasn’t. Barack Obama is going to have one billion dollars in campaign funds, Air Force One, and every special interest in the country at his beck and call. We are not done yet. We have a big job to do in 2012, and will require the strongest and most effective grassroots efforts ever undertaken.
Winston Churchill, whose mother was an American, once said, “The American people always do the right thing….after they have exhausted every other possibility.”
My friends, we have exhausted every other possibility. We tried big government. We tried material acquisitiveness. But the only thing that satisfies is that which beats in the heart is embedded in the unique DNA of every American, and that is the hunger to be free and the desire to become all God intended us to be. Let’s go reclaim that truth.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.