RUSH: Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. All right! (Cheers and applause) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. It is a distinct honor and a great pleasure to come here tonight. I would have come whether there was no award or not. Just the opportunity to address people, I haven’t had a chance to do this as much as I would like to, lately, and the chance to do so and to be introduced by Alex Spanos is something I would not pass up. I have to tell you a little — by the way, let me look at my watch. I’ve been given a time limit here tonight, ladies and gentlemen. (Booing) Well, I have. They said 30 minutes. (Laughter) Doesn’t matter. Can’t hear you. I can’t hear you. (Laughter) I follow instructions. I learned that a long time — okay. So it’s 8:30. So I got to be out of here by 9 o’clock.
Well, we’ll see. We’ll see. (Laughter) I have to tell you my Alex Spanos story. I’ve got so many of them. This man has been such an inspiration to me, even long before I met him. His success, his achievement, his character is a testament to how anybody should live their life and structure a family and lead a business. It forget the year. It was in the early ’90s and my radio program had been on the air maybe four years and there was a lot of buzz about it and we were at the sort of the of the zenith of popularity. It was new. There was a lot of curiosity about who I was, and a lot of attention, and I get this phone call one day and this is still when all this is real new to me. And I’m just doing my job every day, and I’m loving it, and I’m enjoying all that’s happening.
What is happening with the success of my program is — I mean, I’d hoped for it, I expected it, but when it’s actually happening to you, it’s humbling, as well as awesome. So I answered the phone one day my secretary comes in and says, “Alex Spanos is on the phone.” Alex Spanos is calling me? “Yeah, yeah.” So I pick up the phone, and he starts when — as you just heard him: “Hey, Rush.” He talks to me like he’s known me his whole life. “Rush, how are you? It’s so great to talk to you. Man, I’ve been listening to you for as long as you’ve been around. I know you’re in Sacramento. You’re just doing great. You’re just doing great. Listen, I need to ask you something,” and he tried to get me to come out to California to join him on a barnstorm tour of the state for the re-election of Pete Wilson.
And I’m flattered as I can be to get this phone call, but I have a policy, I don’t go out on campaigns with candidates because the sad thing is, they’re going to lose and I’m going to still be around. (Laughter) And I mean they have to lose at some point. And my strategy is, I’m not going to lose. (Laughter) But there’s also this: I am trying to build a business and I don’t want to say to the advertisers of the country that I’m only interested in half the people in the country. So to be pictured on a stage with a candidate who is — or even an elected official and raising hands, sort of would stereotype me in a way that — (Laughter) I know. As though I weren’t already stereotyped. But picture — just I didn’t — at that point, at the time, didn’t think it was good. So I told all this to Mr. Spanos as respectfully as I could. And his answer was that’s great, that’s great.
I’ll send an airplane to New York and pick you up and we’ll just have the greatest time. And I’m sitting there … “Mr. Spanos, maybe…” “I heard every word you said and I think it’s absolutely fabulous.” (Laughter) “Did you get what you needed?” (Laughter) He said, “It’s absolutely great. I heard every word you said and I can’t wait to meet you. This is going to be the most fun weekend you’ve ever had,” and I said, “Mr. Spanos, I would love to come out and meet you, I’d love to spend the weekend but I can’t. I just can’t do that.” “You know something? I just know that you’re going to love it.” He would not take no for an answer. (Laughter) And what I learned was that it wasn’t that he was not hearing me, and it wasn’t that he was insistent or domineering or demanding. He was positive. He was inspirational. He was upbeat.
He’s gone through life and he’s never accepted no for an answer. There’s no such word as “can’t” in his vocabulary. And it was — it was — for me, it was a very educational experience. I ended up finally persuading him I couldn’t do it, and he understood, but he kept after me and we eventually did get together and do some things that did not involve candidates and I feel all the more grateful that I’ve gotten to know him and can say he’s a friend. He’s just a tremendous individual and I thank him for coming to introduce me. It was a tremendous introduction and thank you, Alex, very much. I love you more than you know. (Applause) How many of you, ladies and gentlemen — one of the things I want to talk about tonight is where we are in America.
You talk about bullish and optimistic! I am! (Cheers and applause) I’m going to tell you something (Cheers and applause) and I have been. All through this year, I was optimistic. All through this campaign, when it looked like we were in the darkest of days, when it looked like the mainstream press was holding sway with all of this bitterness and rage and hatred and they were using a combined effort with their friends in the political left to try to destroy the character and the presidency of George W. Bush, I had people calling me throughout the year, Rush, what are we going to do about this? Because everybody is afraid the mainstream press was still holding sway. I kept telling people, look, they’ve lost their monopoly, folks. There’s a new media.
There’s a whole new element of this country that is informed and educated and those people don’t hold the sway they did. (Cheers and applause) They just don’t. (Cheers and applause) And it’s true. And now, but here, let me give you one of the greatest illustrations of this that I can give you, how many of you yesterday happened to see any pictures at all of the opening ceremonies of the Bill Clinton library and massage parlor? (Laughter) How many hands do I see? Okay. I don’t see too many hands and I’m not surprised. Let me tell you, I watched it. Not because I wanted to. I watched it for you. I watched it, my friends, because (Laughter) it’s my business to do this. The Clinton library opening ceremonies epitomized, if you will, exactly where the left in this country is today. First, where was it?
It was in a red state. (Laughter) They hate red states. In fact, the media in this country — what I call them, the liberal spin machine. I don’t like to use the word “mainstream press” anymore. The liberal spin machine was there. They were all excited. But they’re thinking about sending foreign correspondents to the red states to find out what people — and to the red counties of California to find out what Americans are really like. So here they all have to come to Arkansas. Not just a red state, folks; they have to go to the Bible Belt! (Laughter) Oh, this couldn’t be any better. And then when they get there, what are they there to do? They end up standing in a pouring, drenching rain for four hours. (Cheers and applause) Does that (Cheers and applause) And what are they looking at? They are looking at a replica of mobile home, ladies and gentlemen. (Laughter, Cheers and applause)
Where did they stay in Little Rock? They stayed at a Comfort Inn. Can you imagine Barbra Streisand at a Comfort Inn? (Laughter, Cheers and applause) Some of them stayed at the Paula Jones hotel, now called the Peabody. (Laughter) But Clinton himself took the presidential suite. (Laughter) I mean it just doesn’t get — and then when they’re watching all these festivities in the rain, they actually were there not because they wanted to go to a red state and they didn’t want to go to Arkansas but they wanted to go show that their respect for Bill Clinton. And who could, you know, question the left’s respect for somebody like Bill Clinton. They wanted to show that it was still intact. But the primary — you have to understand the people like Barbra Streisand and, I mean, it looked like the Kerry campaign. Kerry was there. Terry McAuliffe was there.
All these people with umbrellas, red ponchos. Folks, it looked like Halloween at an old folks’ home. It was just too delicious to watch. They all go there to be seen. This crowd doesn’t go because they want to pay respect; they go there to be seen. They knew TV cameras. Nobody could be seen because of all the umbrellas because of all the rain. (Laughter) You had to watch this for three hours to find out who all was there. Meanwhile, the greatest speech all day that these people, who hate the red states, who had to go to Arkansas, a red state, to honor Bill Clinton, the greatest speech they listened to all day was delivered by President George W. Bush. (Cheers and applause) I mean it was awesome! (Cheers and applause)
And they were celebrating a guy, Bill Clinton, whose seminal achievements — and there were two — (Laughter). Well, now, wait a minute. I said achievements! (Laughter). You know, this laughter is letting me know where some of your minds are tonight because I’m not going there. (Laughter). There were two seminal achievements. You gotta keep the whole picture now, these people; they stayed at a Comfort Inn or the Paula Jones motel. It’s pouring rain. They’re looking in a red state at a doublewide replica here. They can’t get inside and see what’s going on and now why they weren’t let inside. Maybe the massage rooms were still open in there and the guests couldn’t get in. But the two seminal achievements of the man they’re there to honor were both conservative originated and oriented: Welfare reform and NAFTA — and aside from that, what did Bill Clinton do?
His number one visitor to the White House was Yasser Arafat. I mean, we all know the impeachment saga and this and that. I just thought it was delicious and delightful to watch. When I first started watching it, I was a little bit bummed. Aw, do we have to go through all this again, and do I have to talk about it? And then I said, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute! What am I looking at here?” and I thought of it as I just expressed it to you. The night before, you know, all the media went down, the mainstream press, the liberal spin machine, now they couldn’t wait to get down there and talk to their boy. That whole event, folks, I have to tell you, epitomizes another thing about the left. They can’t look forward. They see no future. They can only look back. They go back there. They want to relive the ’90’s.
Oh, how wonderful the ’90’s were of the some of the things they city they were still in the ’30’s, soup lines. It’s the most amazing thing if you listen to them talk about the most robust economy the free world has ever known, you would think that this is still the soup lines of the 1930’s, if you listen to them talk about it. The sad thing is, they were hoping for that to happen. What do you say about a political party, which set itself up politically in this way: It only benefited when America was harmed or America wasn’t doing well. Bad news for America was good news for them. I’ll never forget Dick Gephardt, one day during the dot com stock market implosion. He was out there all rubbing his hands together. He was all excited. For every hundred-point drop in the stock market, he said, we’re going to pick up a seat in the House.
And I’m watching this and saying, this is not going to fly in flyover country. People don’t want to hear people happy that the economy is tanking or the stock market is going, but yet there they were. They just look at the past. They want to relive the old days, and here’s why: And this is important to understand for if we all want to remain optimistic — and I think we should — and if we all want to be optimistic so we inspire others that we come in contact with to remain optimistic and inspired as well, we have to understand what’s happening. For the longest time, the left — and by the left, I mean the institutions of the left. The one that they still have a total dominant control over and small inroads are being made but they still do is education. But it comes to the media and when it comes to government, they are losing and losing fast.
They lost the House in 1994. They haven’t gotten it back. Their margin is increasing. Their margin of defeat is increasing. They lost the Senate. Here’s another thing about this thing in Little Rock. Here they’re celebrating a guy who single-handedly has done this to the party. I’m waiting for one Democrat to realize what Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have done to the party. They go to Washington from Arkansas, try what they try, and the party goes downhill. They can’t win elections. They can’t persuade the American people to have faith in them or confidence in them. Meanwhile the Clinton stars are rising. Hillary is said to be the presidential candidate in ’08 and Bill can’t stop telling us how rich he is, you know, with his tax increases or cuts or whatever. (Laughter) No. It’s amazing. And yet they keep honoring these people.
And the reason for it is because they — folks, their monopoly — they had a media monopoly and they had a government monopoly. You have to understand about the left. The left is empowered primarily, and I won’t say “only,” but in a majority way, the left is empowered only when they control government because that’s the element, that’s the instrument, of the execution of their power. They believe in big government. They don’t have faith in individuals. They don’t have faith that people can overcome the obstacles that are placed in front of them in life. A liberal, by definition, needs as many people in need to government as possible. But it’s hard to do that when you don’t control government. It’s hard to do that when your opponents are trying to de-emphasize the federal government’s role in everybody’s life. I say, “trying.”
It has a long way to go, we all know, but at least the liberals aren’t in charge of it. They can’t come to grips with how to change where they are because they’re institutionally attached to where they are, but there’s another reason for it. During this period of time where they had their monopoly, they were never challenged. They would go out, their elected officials, their candidates, their party leaders, whoever, their civil rights leadership would go out and say whatever they wanted to say and the mainstream press would just be the echo chamber and repeat it. And there was no challenge to it. And as such, they got fat and lazy and assumed that they represented the whole country. But going back — I mean, you could go back to Goldwater, you could go back to Reagan, and we all know where the roots of conservatism go. You could trace it to William Buckley.
But for 40 years in this country, there has been a quiet anger that builds over the unfairness and the mistreatment of half the people in this country because of their political views, conservatives, and they have been stoking up anger and in the process of all this, very slowly but very — very surely, people on the right have been learning how to debate the left in the arena of ideas and win. All this time, the left had its monopoly; they didn’t have to debate anybody because they didn’t allow opposing points of view to get credibility. Conservatism or Libertarianism, anything other than liberalism was impugned, it was laughed at, it was criticized, it was discredited as best they could, and it was to the point where many conservatives were afraid to stand up publicly and proclaim what they were because they didn’t want to be laughed at.
They didn’t want to be impugned. But all the while, this, nevertheless, was happening. We, on the right, long before I came along — I mean, you look at people like The Claremont Institute and others. They’re people that are doing great work in the basements of these places, theoretically speaking. I mean, by that, I mean nobody knows who they are. They labor in anonymity, but they do what they do because they love it. But more importantly, they do what they do because they believe it. It’s in their hearts, it’s in their souls, and they firmly believe it and they love their country. (Applause)
In the case of the good people here at Claremont, they are devoted to the founding principles of this country. They are devoted to the Constitution. The Constitution is constantly under assault by people on the left who think that it should be a “living, breathing document” to be bent and shaped and formed and flaked to accommodate whatever decadence, indecency, or desire people who have no guardrails in their lives wish to have embodied in the Constitution. It is a way to normalize things… Other people say, “No, that’s not normal and we ought not normalize it because it’s going to tear down the very roots of our founding,” and if it weren’t for people like Claremont — and I don’t want to go overboard here, but I must tell you and be honest, there are a lot of people who have helped me in immeasurable ways become what I have become because they’ve enabled me to learn.
I’ve been able to read what the people here at Claremont write. Other institutions and think tanks, they have been doing great work behind the scenes but they haven’t been doing it for fame, and they haven’t been doing it for applause. They’ve been doing it because they care about it. I’ve been fortunate enough to come along to benefit from all of this learning and all of this knowledge, and I absorb it, and I’ve come up with a way to make it understandable to people, and I get a lot of credit for it that I actually don’t think I deserve, although I’m willing to take it. (Laughter) No, I think that the point is that people like those here at the Claremont Institute are all over this country and have been working for decades and years, in many cases, and it has served to inform, but, more importantly, educate people so that where we are today in this country is the left never having had to be challenged, never having to explain why they believe.
In fact, the left doesn’t even want to be judged on the results of their programs. Look at welfare reform — or “war on poverty,” rather. Abject failure. The whole Great Society, affirmative action, all these things. Abject failures. You can’t talk about that with them, though. What they say, no, no, no, don’t judge the results. We want to be measured by our intentions. (Laughter) We are good people. We have good intentions. Well, okay. Good intentions, yippee. What are you doing to solve the problem? Your programs on the left are sustaining problems. Welfare, the safety net, the welfare state, the war on poverty, sustained poverty and it imprisoned people. It gave people the false notion that they didn’t have to take care of themselves or, worse than that, that there were people who could take better care of them than they could themselves.
And it was people like Democrats in Washington and everywhere else. And to me, it’s a crying shame that so much potential in this country, so much human endeavor and potential, has been stifled by a bunch of people who would rather have those people in America in a state of need because that state of need is what empowers the left. All during this period of time, they got arrogant and they became condescending and to the point now, you can look at them and you listen to people talk, the stereotypes of Republicans or conservatives, we’re racist, we’re sexist, we’re bigots, we’re homophobes, and all this. We are the party of the rich. We don’t care about the poor. We’d just as soon tromp on them. Tax cuts are nothing more than us leaving our homes, going out at night, and taking money from the poor, putting it in our back pocket, and getting rich.
Economically it makes no sense, but that’s what they say. And there are a lot of people who don’t know any differently that grow up believing this sort of thing. In fact, it’s just the exact opposite. Who are the true elites in this country? Who are the people that have to sort of hold their nose and — when they go to Arkansas? (Laughter) Who are the people that think it’s necessary to send a foreign correspondent into Missouri to find out what people there are like? These are the people of the people — or the party of the people? These are the ones — they claim to have the great understanding of the great unwashed, the hoi polloi, the disadvantaged, the poor, the thirsty, the hungry, the disadvantaged, all of these? They don’t have a thing in common with them and they don’t want to have anything and they don’t want to be around them. John Kerry — (Laughter)
Now, that’s not fair. I mean (Laughter) to laugh at old Lurch that way, just because I mentioned his name. (Laughter) And here’s a guy who his first wife is very wealthy. “Hey, good going, John. Second wife, even wealthier.” First time, you say, “Okay, luck, good opportunity.” Second time, it’s calculated. Had he won, he would have been the wealthiest American in the history of the country to be president. Or his wife would have. But still (Laughter). No, no, still. Yet these are the people who claim — here’s John Kerry, who wants to go hunting 10 days before the election in Iowa. Puts on some camouflage jacket like Johnny Carson used to on the Tonight Show (Laughter) and he goes purposely — I think it was a Wal-Mart or some sporting goods store — to get his hunting license for the day. Did you hear what he said when he walked in there?
“Could I get me a huntin’ license here?” Now, you laugh about this and it is funny, but he doesn’t speak that way. And if it was his choice, he wouldn’t go into Iowa. The only time he goes there is to flip flapjacks during the primaries. But going into Iowa, that’s something he wouldn’t do on his own. Certainly go hunting? Pure photo op. But he says, “Can I get me a huntin’ license here?” What does that say? He’s trying to relate, folks. He’s trying to relate to people. That’s what he thinks goes on in the hunting community, that they talk that way. And this is typical of much of the left. They become so arrogant and so condescending and so elitist that they make this great pitch that they care about the great unwashed and they have all their interests at heart, but they’ve lost total touch with them, and the great thing that’s happening is that the so-called party of the rich, the Republicans and the conservative movement was supposedly insensitive and know no compassion whatsoever.
Look who is winning elections and look who is voting for them. Exactly the people — and it’s — and almost every constituency group you can see. There’s some exceptions, but more and more people who used to traditionally vote Democrat are beginning to vote Republican for this very reason. And this was all going on during this campaign season. One of the things that enthused me, we had a campaign here — and I’m 53 years old and I know that there were dirtier campaigns back in the days of the founding, 1800s and — Lincoln had to go through, you know, just torture when he ran for re-election, and you go back and you look at the media in the 1800s and the founding days, and it was all National Enquirer-type stuff.
I mean it’s been worse and that’s another great thing to remember. But still, everything’s relative. In our lifetimes, I don’t remember any. I thought they hated Ronald Reagan until George Bush came along, but it’s irrational. It’s a seething rage that made them totally lose touch with reality. They started believing in conspiracy theories and they launched the most vicious, hate-filled campaign I can remember in my lifetime. Four times, folks, they investigate a nothing story about the president and the National Guard. They get so frustrated that they actually used forged documents at CBS. (Laughter)
No, no. Seriously. This is — now, I know it’s funny now, but at the time, you remember how mad everybody was: Forged documents! And nothing — people still ask me today, “Well, what about Dan Rather? How come Dan Rather hasn’t been fired?” I say, “Look, it’s probably better that he wasn’t. He had a greater punishment having to work election night, report those results, folks.” (Laughter) I mean, what goes around comes around. But I’m sure that many of you during the campaign, even before the afternoon of the first wave of exit polls came out, I’m sure that many of you felt depressed. You’d watched the news, saying, “My gosh, no!” and the president wasn’t fighting back, and this is a key point. The president wasn’t fighting back, and we’re all saying, “Well, if the leader isn’t going to fight back, what do we do? We can’t carry the campaign. What do we do?” and it just got more and more depressing.
People would call my radio program and just recite for me chapter and verse what they’d seen on the news, and I remember the whole year, I was getting frustrated and I would tell people, “Folks, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. For one thing, there’s a new media, and it’s not just me. There’s all kinds of talk radio host. There’s Fox News, the Internet, the blogging community. You’ve heard all about it. But the left doesn’t have that monopoly anymore. They’re never going to get it back. We’re in the midst of a seminal historical shift in this country. So…(Cheers and applause) So people are calling me and I’ll make this personal for just a moment, although this is a small factor in my reasoning and thinking, but people would call me and just start wailing and moaning about — and sounding all defeated and full of doom and gloom about this campaign and the Michael Moore movie, then the 9/11 hearings, the National Guard story.
It just never stopped, and I said to a couple of them, “What, am I not here? I’ve been here for 16 years. They’re not getting away with it anymore. You know, for every one of you that watched this stuff, you would think you’re watching it in a vacuum. You’d think you’re the only one smart enough to figure it out. The whole country is beginning to see what’s happening here. The election results prove that,” which is my point. Look, what won is the president — and it’s key. He didn’t run around and say I’m moral, I’m decent, a man of character. He didn’t have to. It spoke for itself. (Applause) Now, the reason this is important, we live — we live at a time where many people fear — and it’s a justified fear — that we’re in the middle of a cultural decay, that the pop culture in this country, the entertainment pop culture, is starting to define who we are, negatively impact our future, and many of us who were raised with what we consider to be manners, traditions, institutions that have defined this country for years — character, trying to do the right thing, honest, all these things, don’t cheat — seems like the people not doing that are the ones winning.
They’re the ones getting famous. They’re the ones that are becoming wealthy and so forth. And everybody else who is playing it by the rules seems to be getting trampled on. And through this year, I was — folks, these values, these traditions, these institutions, they’re timeless. And they endure. And they endure because of their decency, they endure because they’re right, they endure because of their equality, they endure because they have been battle tested and if you just sit tight — I’m not saying take it for granted, I’m not saying don’t work on it, don’t go and get the vote out, but don’t worry about this, because this kind of thing — and throughout the year, I’m telling people, I’m not worried. None of these — in fact, I think that all this stuff — in fact, I think Michael Moore is the best friend we ever had, just like Dan Rather is best friend we ever had.
I think Richard Clarke, 9/11 committee hearing because the president of the United States, whatever you think of his politics from day to day, the president of the United States is not an unlikable man. He’s not a dislikeable man. In fact, just the opposite. He is the essence of decency. He is the essence of class and dignity. And it spoke volumes. (Applause) His his very comportment, his very existence, the way he conducted himself in the campaign and out of it trumped and triumphed over all of that seedy manure that was being launched at him and he didn’t have to respond to every charge individually, he didn’t have to counter it, because these things are time-honored and true and they triumph when they are present in leadership. And what’s happening with the left, their crackup is such that they are getting more and more shrill, more and more. I can’t think of the — just the hatred and the conspiracy theories they came up with, how — you know, you can go to the library and just like you won’t find a book there Great Moderates In American History (Laughter) Sorry, David Gergen. (Laughter) You also will not find a book called Great Haters In American History. (Applause)
You won’t. It’s not there. And you know why? Hate, you may collect some people around you that also hate. You may get some people to be motivated for while. But you don’t build a movement on it. You don’t build a lasting movement of quality that endures on hatred or on rage or on paranoia or on conspiracy theories. You just don’t. And I was confident that this was going to happen throughout the campaign, and if I had to, is I could produce radio transcripts to show you. Now, there were times I was worried. I mean, I’m not trying to say that I was never ever disturbed by any of it. That last week when the New York Times hit with this phony missing explosives story from Iraq, you know, these things that happen late in the campaign, you’re never sure about. The first wave of exit polls, again another fraudulent attempt to affect the outcome of an election.
Worried about those things. But the thing to be happy about here — and this is hard. You know, just like there’s no book Great Moderates In American History or Great Haters. At the same time, it’s very hard to be optimistic and positive. Seems like negativism and pessimism are just easier for human beings to attach themselves to and you know it. The reason that it… I mean, you don’t have to go to the library to find out how to be negative either. We can all do that. But you look at the people that have made gazillions of dollars writing books on positive thinking because it takes work, it takes effort. And when somebody charts that course as a leader, it’s tougher on that person than anybody else to stick to it because everybody around him is beginning to doubt him or her. I don’t mean to be sexist about this.
And that’s, I think, a testament to so many people who actually truly believe that their values are part of their core, rather than some others who will just say whatever. And another example of that, the Democrat campaign. When it looked like God was going to matter to the Democrats, well, guess what, Kerry started saying he believed in God. (Laughter) And then Kerry said he was going to take — it’s not that they — here’s a campaign that is basing itself on the abject fear of religious people running for office and winning. They’re saying if Bush wins, “Well, he believes in God! (Laughter) We can’t have that. Why, he’s taking — he’s governing from the book of Revelation! We can’t have that.” Liberals are paranoid and just scared as they could be of the Word of God. But when it got down to the election, it got very close and they started looking at their polls and they found out this mattered to people, guess what.
John Kerry said — “…and I’m going to take my faith in the Oval Office every day and I’m going to read the Bible.” I can’t believe it. (Laughter) I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I’m saying, “What is his base going to say about this?” His base, they hate God; they hate people of religion. They’re afraid of them. The whole left is really operating out of a base of fear. That’s how you have to understand them. And then I said, “Well, wait a minute, Rush. He knows, or they know that he doesn’t mean it, that he’s just saying it, and there’s a big difference in saying it and believing it, and people know when you’re just saying it because you’ll say anything.” But when you believe it, when it’s in your core, when it governs your life, when it steers your life, people pick up on it, and that’s infectious.
People that have a belief system, a core value belief system and then can explain it to people — and not in a way that gets in their face and wags their fingers and says, “You’re wrong! You’re wrong! You’re going to be in trouble.” That’s never going to persuade anybody. All it’s going to do is cause rebellion. One of the best way of persuading people is just to set up a set of circumstances to which the conclusion is obvious and let them come to it themselves and they’ll think they’re smart that they’ve finally gotten it. They don’t realize they’ve been persuaded, but who cares who gets the credit, as Reagan says, as long as the objective is advanced. And the bottom line here is that that’s — I think that’s what core values do. And so it brings me back to The Claremont Institute.
They operate on a set of core beliefs. There’s a lot of elements to what I call or we call conservatism, and some people that are in the midst of conservatism don’t like the label. They think it’s too limiting or they think conservatism doesn’t pay (inaudible) to the things they’re interested in. Doesn’t matter. They still stay loyal and true to their beliefs. The Claremont people believe in the Constitution and I’ll tell you something. I am glad that they do, and I’m glad that there are people who care enough about it to take slings and arrows for people who say they’re wrong or they’re stupid or they’re old-fashioned or whatever, because the Constitution — take a look at this country. I mean, I marvel at it. I marvel. I’m in awe of so much of this country. We have a war going on in Iraq, a war on terror. We have 18 and 19-year-old men and women who are volunteering, and they know when they volunteer now where they’re going.
They’re not going to be sent somewhere to, you know, spend their time on a base. They’re going to combat, and they do it. At the same time, you can go to various parts of L.A. or Miami and you can find people of the same age who only care about getting a date to go to the big club that night and maybe get — score. It’s a great country because while there are people who are willing to not take seriously the future of the country, they just want to get into their sybaritic and hedonistic delights and pursuits, there are still plenty of people who understand what it takes to defend this country, and they’re out there and they’re putting their lives on the line, and that (Applause). I don’t mean — I keep reminding myself of things here because my mind is so fertile. (Laughter) But that’s another thing about the campaign. I mean, the Democrats are people who say that they support the troops and they don’t.
They actually do not. The worst thing that could happen to them, you know what? They’d go into a panic if we find bin Laden. Oh, no. Wouldn’t we all be happy that if we won the war on terror, we won the war on Iraq? The Democrats would not have been. They would have been panicked over this. Who wants to be in that sort of political situation? In the meantime, while all that’s going on, these people are undeterred. They’re volunteering. They’re doing what they think is best to defend the country. Based on what they’ve seen. There’s not a draft. Nobody’s making them do it. They may seek educational opportunities or economic opportunities in the process, but look what they have to risk in order to get those opportunities. In their case, they’re risking their lives. I have so much love and respect and awe for people who do that. Ninety-nine percent of the people in this country haven’t done it and don’t know what it’s like.
And yet we have to listen to them get tarred and feathered whenever there’s a camera crew that catches combat scenes and we want to make criminal combat scenes that occur in Fallujah or in a prison? It’s a disservice to them. But it’s not just people in the military. There are people throughout this country who have a great understanding of where it came from and what it is that makes us great. I mean, folks, look at it this way: We are, what, 230-plus years old? Whatever the numbers are. There are countries and cultures that have been around hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years longer than we have, and we run rings around them. In every which way you can imagine. Not just educationally, not just culturally, but we do it in science. We do it in medicine. We do it in high-tech. Now, a number of other countries, because they’re sending their kids here to be educated, are beginning to do the same things, but this is the engine of all of that. This country. Now, are we different human beings than people in France? I’m beginning to think we are, by the way. (Laughter, Cheers and applause)
We’re not. I mean, what is it? What is it that makes this country so great? It’s not that we, as human beings, are special. It’s not that we, as human beings, are better than anybody else. The reason this country is great, and the reason it always will be great, or how it will remain great, is because our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, both acknowledge the source of our freedom. And that is God, our Creator. (Applause) – I couldn’t believe President Bush got in so much trouble from the left in the campaign when he said that freedom and democracy are in every heart. Can you believe people in the world who actually said, no, freedom is not for people in the Middle East? They don’t understand it. There are people in this country who believe freedom is not for everyone.
When the Soviet Union fell, we had people in this country worried, “Oh, no, no! That isn’t going to work. They’re so used to being taken care of they can’t fend for themselves.” Who are we or who are the left in this country to deny anybody freedom? How in the world? I remember in the ’80s, I’m up in Sacramento and we’re talking about beating the Soviet Union and the left — one of the favorite arguments was, we can’t go impose freedom on those people. Freedom is not an imposition. Freedom is the natural yearning of the human spirit given us to by our Creator. There’s nothing men can do but snuff that out. And that must be guarded against and fought against. Our Constitution, our founding documents, embody this. It is our freedom that allows the human beings that live in this country and who migrate here to seek whatever it is their ambition and their talent level and their desire will allow them to seek. There are obstacles in this country, no question.
We punish achievement with our tax code. We’re constantly trying to reduce these kind of things. But compared to the way most of the people in the world live, it’s no contest. And that is why we run rings around people. We have the freedom to pursue our desires, our ambitions. We have the freedom to simply go out, pursue excellence as we define it, be the best that we can be. Some people do not have the freedom to leave a house every day. It’s something — and the thing that’s scary and the reason why some of the work here at Claremont Institute is so — is so important is that so many people in this country are born and you can’t really blame this, it’s an educational project, they take it for granted. They’ve never known anything else. They’ve never known, I mean, anything but life in America.
And I have a friend who grew up in Los Angeles, and the first time this friend left L.A. at age 20, she was stunned that every place in the country — and I’m not making this up — every place in the country did not have lights as far as you could see at night. (Laughter) Now, it’s just an illustration. You take for granted, people become accustomed. This is why it is important to try to understand where we came from, and how absolutely — I don’t know — fortunate, lucky, blessed that we are that we had people who founded this country of the intelligence and the courage and the conviction that they had because it’s all there. The reasons for the greatness of this country can be found in the founding, can be found rooted in the history of the way this country was founded and that’s why it’s so important to never forget it and whenever a question comes up in our society or in our culture about whether something should be done or not be done in a matter of law or be it legislation.
You can’t go wrong by going back and looking at the original intent of the founders of the Constitution, the founders of the country, and there are people like here at the Claremont Institute who are constantly working to help people learn and understand this. I mean John Silber, who used to be the president — maybe he still is the president of Boston University — did a study of high school textbooks in this country and he found that the greatest reference to Lincoln he could find in the two most widely-used textbooks was a paragraph, in the public school system. The latest textbook on history in the public school system has two chapters on Bill Clinton. But this is all going to be overcome. It’s going to take a long period of time to do it but the process is taking place. That monopoly that I talked about earlier, it no longer exists.
And the reason why we are ahead and winning — and by the way, don’t be worried about what the — the so-called mainstream media today writes about, say, the new media, or says about it. They are, today, the writers of current history, but they’re the ones losing. They’re not going to write the truth. Why would they write about their demise? In fact, they’re retrenching and they’re getting even kookier. I heard Chris Matthews on TV the other night, after this incident in Fallujah (Laughing). See? I mention his name and people are starting to laugh at that now. That’s not good for him. He was asking — I forget who his expert guest was. It might have been a CIA agent, and Matthews said, “Well, if we were a decent country, do you think we could make a deal with bin Laden?” If we were? Now, he wasn’t saying things that extreme before the election. There’s a retrenching going on.
They refuse to admit that they’re wrong. They refuse to admit that they’ve made mistakes. It’s everybody else’s stupidity for not understanding how brilliant they are and so they’re worried about, well, what do we have to do? I remember I was doing election night 2002 with Brokaw and Russert on NBC, and of course that was a huge mid-term shellacking, and it was much the same that happened this year. The Wellstone memorial was one of the things that doomed them in that campaign, just like this whole campaign doomed them. And I remember Brokaw said, “Well, what do you think the left has to do, Rush, to improve?” I said, “Well, I disagree with what I’m hearing tonight. They think they’re not getting their message out. They are, and they have been for 30 years and everybody knows what they believe now and that’s why they’re in trouble. (Laughter) But yet they don’t think that.”
They think they’re not getting their message out. They’re going to go further left to get more extreme. But just, you know, be optimistic and be inspired, because you’ll never know how many people you’ll influence. People that you don’t even know. People that hear you talk or see your attitude wherever you are outside your family will be influenced by it. You don’t know how powerful it is. Well, maybe you in this room do because you’re watching and you pay attention to these events but it is infectious and there are all kinds of reasons to be optimistic. Now, this is not to say be blind, put your head in the sand and don’t admit where there are problems. It’s just that we are Americans. We can fix it. We can fix whatever’s wrong in our country if we all understand what it is and are honest about defining the problem and then understand that there’s no holding us back.
And understand, too, it’s the left that thinks there’s all kinds of lost causes out there. Let them. Let them be doom and gloom. Let them be down and distraught. Because it only is going to turn more people away from them. Young, old, you name it. It’s a great time to be alive and it’s a great time to be an American. It always is a great time to be an American, and I could not be more grateful for the life that I’ve had and the success that I’ve had and the opportunity to get to know people that I have had because of the success I’ve had, and it’s all due to the opportunities that are present in this country. I love to tell people (Laughter) Sorry about that. I love to tell people — you may have heard me tell this story on the radio.
There was, I guess a month or six weeks before the election, some student at a college newspaper in North Carolina wrote a piece about how he and his friends, he and his buddies, 20, 21, were all going to commit suicide if Kerry lost. It was a satire piece but they were depressed as they could be. And so I talked about this, and of course when I do that, it generates a lot of reaction and people e-mailed this kid and his university paper and so forth and shut down his server, which I love doing. I love shutting down people’s servers. (Laughter) It’s — I don’t know if you heard this or not, but do you remember this group called Votergasm.com? Let me tell you about this. There was this group of recent college graduates from Madison, Wisconsin, Harvard, Tufts — I mean all these liberal institutions — and they had a voter registration drive just like all the left had.
You know, how about P. Diddy, Vote or Die, that’s really going to inspire people. All these voter registration efforts were just jokes. Yet the Democrats are embracing all these people, taking them dead seriously. P. Diddy, I mean, what is he? He’s a rap singer, but, my gosh, don’t turn him into a political icon or you’re going to go down the tubes with him and they did. This group up in Boston, votergasm.com, they were going to register voters and the idea was, on election night, go have sex with whoever. Now, I got a hold of this and I read this and I said, “You know, these people, they’re onto something here, but they need a slogan.” I just love helping kids. (Laughter) So I said, “The slogan…” and we got a little back and forth going, and their server was shut down, too, as a result of this.
And I said, “What you need to do, you need to have something that’s really going to get people. You’re going to spell out what you’re all about and it’s going to draw people to your movement and that is, you need a slogan: ‘I voted for John Kerry and I got screwed.” (Laughter) and they did it! They did it! And they did the same thing with Bush, the same kind of slogan. But these groups, ladies and gentlemen, were out there and engaging in all of this activity that, you know, it was just flapping in the breeze and not really accomplishing anything, and they felt they were doing a lot because they were involved in the political process. So I just think that this is a country that offers tremendous opportunity, great growth potential for anybody who wants to advance themselves, and the great thing here is that anybody who does want to take initiative can go much farther.
This kid that called me from this North Carolina — he finally called after I sent him the — or he got all these e-mails and he called me up and he wanted to talk to me about it. And I said, you know, I want to talk to you man to man. I don’t want to argue issues. You’re a liberal, I’m conservative. I don’t want to do that. I said, would you tell me something, seriously? You’re only 21. You’re going to win some elections; you’re going to lose some elections. What do you mean, even being satirical, about committing suicide? Well, you know, we’re just all going to be so depressed. I mean, our whole future is wrapped up in this election. And I said, don’t be silly. I’m 53. You want to — what do you think Watergate was like for people like me? We didn’t go commit suicide.
We kept fighting for what we believe in. You’re going to lose too many elections to start acting this way. You got to… You know what? You better — it’s your party making you feel this way. They’re making you think life isn’t worth living unless one of them wins the presidency. You need to structure your life so that your success is not determined by who wins elections, but that you advance your goals and ideals culturally, ideologically, and educationally by way of who wins elections. But if you’re going to sit there? “What do you believe in,” I asked him. ” What are the things you think should happen?” Well, I was raised by a gay aunt and I think we ought to have gay marriage, and I said, “So you’re going to go commit suicide rather than fight for it. You know what you have to do? If that’s what you believe in,” and he named a couple other things that were on par.
I said, if that’s what you believe in, you’re never going to accomplish it by committing suicide or getting depressed or getting down in the dumps. What you have to do is go fight for what you believe in and try to persuade as many people as possible to agree with you. You live in the greatest country on earth! You can have some of the most profound success a human being in this world can have. You can make a bigger difference than most human beings in the world can have, and listen, you’re talking about depression and making jokes about suicide? And he said, you know, nobody’s ever talked to me this way before. I said, I’m not surprised. (Laughter) I mean, but look; I disagree with everything you’re saying. And I would oppose you every step of the way. But you’re going to make it easy for me. I’m not even going to have to oppose you.
You’re going to get depressed, you’re going to go to get in a funk, and you’re going to get all worried. You need to fight for what you believe in and try to persuade people in the arena of ideas. Don’t go make a bunch of phony documentaries and don’t go try to get trumped-up charges against an opponent. Actually try to win an election. We’ve been doing this for 40 years, I told him, those of us in the conservative movement. It didn’t happen overnight and it’s never going to be over and we can’t ever forget what it took that got us where we are. One of the mistakes after 1994, frankly, what us that too many people made the assumption that, “Okay, the country’s gone conservative. That’s it. Liberalism is over,” and we stopped teaching and we stopped explaining what we believed and why it was important, and that’s not going to happen this time, because a lesson’s been learned.
In the process, we’re going to be aided because the left is like this kid: Depressed and down in the dumps and getting more shrill and distancing, but they’re talking about actually leaving the country, marrying Canadians so they can emigrate. I think, “Go! Go!” (Laughter) It’s unbelievable. So to me, I hate to be repetitive but when I stop to think about it, I’m just in constant awe of this country and what we’ve achieved and what the potential here is. My grandfather lived to 104. He was born in the mid-1890’s. He worked to age 102 as a lawyer. And look at what he saw. He grew up, there were no phones. There was no electricity. There was nothing. He lived through a century that saw some of the most dramatic change in the human race ever known.
He went from, you know, he wrote a big huge book of love letters to my grandmother, and I said, “Where did you find time to do this?” He said, “What do you mean? That’s all the time we had to do.” (Laughter) You know, they read to each other. They read to themselves. There were no phones. There was no television. They got in a horse and buggy and they went to the park and they read to each other. (Laughter) But he grew up and thrived. I mean he never learned to use a computer but he mastered a remote (Laughter) and I’ll guarantee you he would not have been intimidated by a touch-screen voting machine (Laughter) and he’d have known the difference between Pat Buchanan and Algore. (Laughter)
This kind of change, this geometric expansion, is happening and is potential throughout every year and decade in this country, as long as there are people who are open to it and wish to advance it and are not afraid of it, and are not going to categorize it politically as somehow unfair and otherwise to people that may not immediately have access to it. So I think we’re all very fortunate and I hope we never forget this, and in the process, inspire as many people as we come in contact with, because that’s how this revolution, if I may call it that, is going to continue. Because it must continue in the basic root form of education and understanding. Thank you all, ladies and gentlemen. It’s been a thrill to be here and to receive this award. You all have been great. Thank you. Thank you so much. And thanks, Alex, again, for that introduction. And thanks to the Claremont Institute for having me. (Cheers and applause) Thank you all very much.