Conservatism Will Triumph
Synopsis: In this Jan. 31 speech, Pat tells
conservatives that the ideals they aspire to will survive and
come to dominate the American agenda once again. Conservatism
depends on the people who espouse those ideals and not Ronald
Reagan, the leader who implemented them so effectively during
his presidency. Pat urges conservatives to take up the standard
and continue the battle for a strong America.
Conservative Political Action Center, Jan. 31, 1986
conservative agenda, which you have targeted and on which all
of us have long labored-is about to be completed …unless
we are defeated in our minds and hearts. We will win -- unless
for reasons of political expediency or tactical compromise,
we let certain objectives and ideals be sacrificed.
Conservatism a Passing Fancy?
The pundits, columnists, and editorialists are this day wagering
their word processors that conservatism is only a passing fancy.
They are betting that Reaganism cannot survive Reagan. They are betting
that the conservative cause cannot last without the charisma
of a leader.
They are wrong because
if principles lived only as long as the proponents who advanced
them, the Declaration of Independence and the ideals it inscribed
would have died on July 4, 1826, that 50-year anniversary
date on which the last signers, Adams and Jefferson, died. They
are wrong because ideals transcend leaders.
Conservatism does not depend upon holding the White House,
but rather upon the millions who chose President Reagan to occupy
the first time I ever visited the White House. My father, who
was then Senator from Virginia, took me along to see Harry Truman
in an exercise of senatorial privilege. In subsequent visits
the magnificent simplicity of the President's Oval Office has
never lost its impact.
One of the most curious items to see in a visit is a portrait.
This painting which was supposed to depict the Signers of the
Declaration, hangs just outside the Office. The painting attracts
your attention because it is unfinished. The artist who was
commissioned by Congress died before he could complete it. The
result is a work one quarter done and the rest stark gray canvas.
A few completed sketches of figures sit in the foreground. The
rest of the figures are only dimly penciled in the background.
Dwight Eisenhower, suggested that the unfinished portrait might
reveal the hand of Divine Providence. For in that uncompleted
painting there is revealed a message for all of us -- that it is
not just the Signers, or the Presidents, or Congress who have
the responsibility of preserving our freedoms, but all of us.
All of us belong in that picture. That space in the picture
is for all of us. That preservation of democratic rights depends
not on leaders, but on us. That the greatness of a democracy
depends not upon an extraordinary leader, but on ordinary men
doing things extraordinarily well.
said much the same thing. He was making his way by train to
the inauguration in Washington, On February 22, he was in
Philadelphia and at Independence Hall and he stopped to say
a few words for the festivities honoring the first President.
my fellow citizens, it is not the Presidents, not the Congress,
not the office seekers, but to you whom the question remains,
"Shall the liberties be preserved until the next generation?"
Conservatism Will Survive
George Washington, by the way, was one of the first to coin
the word "American" to describe the settlers of the thirteen
colonies. Well, Lincoln was saying in effect that Americanism
did not stop with George Washington. Today we say that Conservatism
will not stop with Ronald Reagan. And we say with Winston Churchill
"This is not the end of (conservatism) nay, not even the beginning
of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning." Conservatism
is beginning a new era, a new chapter that will bring a new
challenge to our resolve, our stamina, and our unity.
Some two centuries
before the Thirteen Colonies met to establish a nation, there
was another confederation created-the Long House confederation
of Indian tribes that stretched their hegemony from Canada to
Chesapeake Bay where I have established my roots.
River, which begins in New York State and empties into the Chesapeake,
would become the water highway of that nation. And on an island
in that river, the various tribes met to consider the advantages
of union. Chief Hiawatha took five sticks, representing the
five nations, and asked each of the chiefs to break the bundle
of tide sticks. None could, and then Hiawatha untied the sticks
and broke each stick separately. So Hiawatha persuaded the tribes
on the advantages of unity.
that today because the Conservative Movement is more than a
collection of constituent causes. Conservatism is greater than
the sum of the many rights we protect and defend.
Some of us may feel more fervently about moral rights: the right
of unborn children to live, the right of our school children
to pray, or the right to be free of pornography and drugs.
be more concerned about civil rights -- the right to have a protected
home, or the right to walk our streets and neighborhoods safely
Those of us
who have families in Communist lands might want most to champion
political rights-the right of Polish workers to a solidarity
movement, or the rights of freedom fighters in Nicaragua and
Angola to democracy and political justices or the rights of
our citizens traveling abroad to be free of international terrorism.
may be aroused by economic rights -- the right to pay only fair
taxes, the right of our posterity to be freed of monstrous deficit,
or the right of citizens to be submitted a balanced budget by
our special goal, we will risk defeat if we allow our adversaries
to engage us singly, one by one, cause by cause. There is nothing
our opponents want more than for us to disassociate disintegrate
and disband and then break each of us separately by labeling
us as some ""kook" unrepresentative pressure group.
Or as Benjamin
Franklin so succinctly put it to the Continental Congress, "If
we do not hang together, we may all hang separately."
But it is
more than a question of strategy; it is a question of soul. We
in the conservative movement will prevail unless we fail to
see the spiritual chord that binds and wraps our causes in a
crusade. Abraham Lincoln sensed it when he quoted from Shakespeare,
"There's a rough divinity that hews and shapes our ways."
Judeo-Christian Ethic Central
After all, we are a nation whose purpose in government is graced
by the Judeo-Christian ethic. When we landed at Plymouth Rock,
the first words expressed in the Mayflower Compact were "In
the name of God Amen." Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional
Convention two centuries ago in petitioning for prayer said,
"If no sparrow can fall from the sky without his notice, surely
no nation can rise from the ground without his assistance."
The last addition
Abraham Lincoln made to the Gettysburg Address while Edward
Everett was delivering the main address of the day was to insert
"under God"-"That this nation under God shall have a new birth
So as we fight
for our rights, let us remember where our Founding Fathers believed
those rights were derived. Thomas Jefferson writing in that
rooming house on Cherry Street in Philadelphia wrote: "We hold
these truths to be self-evident that all men are endowed by
their creator with certain"…and what is the next word?
Some of you say 'inalienable' and some say 'unalienable.' In
a way you're both right!
It is engraved
'inalienable' on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial. But in
the copy of the Declaration of Independence that can be seen
at the National Archives, it reads 'unalienable'. That is because
the revision committee-John Adams and Benjamin Franklin-changed
Jefferson's word 'inalienable' to 'unalienable.'
Now you ask what difference does it make; Well, perhaps only
a lawyer turned preacher would try to find out. (Some of my
friends say I went to Union Seminary to undo the sins collected
at Yale Law School!)
'inalienable' which Jefferson employed is still a current phrase
in legal usage which describes something that cannot be involuntarily
taken from you-a wristwatch, car, or house. On the other hand,
you can voluntarily sell, will, deed or give it away.
"Unalienable' however, is an archaic 18th century word,
and it describes the rights given by God-rights you cannot give,
sell, or deed away. But rights which you must preserve for your
children and children's children.
By the dignity
of being God's children, we have unalienable rights-the right
to be born, to walk without fear, to pray without interference,
and to live in freedom.
those of our adversaries, not just abroad, but at home, who
deny that dimension of deity in our rights and in our purpose.
They are the ones who see the Soviet Union as different from
us only politically, but not spiritually. These are the advocates
of "moral equivalence" who, in their glib talk of "superpowers,"
strip Lincoln's democratic mission and purpose from our spiritual
Heritage. Perhaps this nation has not always lived up to its
ideals, but isn't that because no nation ever wrote higher ideals
to live up to.
Equivalence" a Misnomer
These peddlers of "moral equivalence" remind me of the preacher
who once visited a convict. The prisoner who had committed an
armed robbery told the parson who had confessed to jay walking
"Well, Reverend, we're both criminal; after all we both broke
We see the
moral "equivalence" permeates our movies and televisions where
Soviet counterparts of our CIA agents seem always to have redeeming
qualities, but our American businessmen, on the other hand,
There is a
word for this-devised by the late Stewart Alsop. He called it
'spiritual appeasement'--the selling short of America, and by
doing so, the betraying mission and its way of life. There is
no more sticky evidence of this disease than the recent rash
of spies who sold their country's secrets to pay credit card
debts. When we deny our spiritual heritage, we become materialists
just as the Marxists.
Today we see
in the Soviet Union attempts at decollectivization. In the People's
Republic of China we see the initiatives in economic incentive.
In Poland, we see churches once again filled.
In other words,
when they are in a sense, beginning to turn our way -- let us not
make the mistake of beginning to turn their way!
Remember Our Grand Purpose
A German philosopher once wrote of a passerby who observed three
stone masons. He asked the fist, "What are you doing?" He answered,
"I am chipping stone." Then the second mason was questioned
and he replied, "I'm building a wall." Finally he queried the
third stone mason. He responded, "I'm erecting a cathedral."
If each of
us will remember that our particular project is part of a grand
purpose, that our special cause is part of a grand crusade,
no opposition will stay our hand nor stifle our spirit. But
each of us in our own project or cause can help America fulfill
the dream our Founding Fathers sought. And each of us in our
life can bring nobility to America by making our job a vocation,
our house a home, our community a neighborhood and our religious
creed a commitment.
As great a
personality as President Reagan has been, as dynamic a spokesman
he has been, we should note that it is not the leader, but the
creed that has stirred souls' and mobilized your movement. It
is not the candle bearer that gives off light, but the candle
itself that lights our path. And, as long as we do not let the
flame of ideals flicker out, we shall never lack for those who
will bear the torch.
The day President
Reagan steps down from the Presidency is seen as a dark one
by some conservatives. But I am reminded of a day in Hartford,
Connecticut on June 4, 1780 when an eclipse of the sun made
noon of that day dark as midnight.
In that day -- more religious than ours -- some thought the Day of
Judgment had truly come. In the Legislature there was panic.
Legislators were then motioning for adjournment. But Colonel
Davenport, Speaker of the House, gaveled down the motions saying:
of the House, the world is either coming to an end or it is
not coming to an end. If it is not coming to an end, there is
no need to adjourn. But if it is coming to an end, I want the
Lord to find me doing my duty. I therefore will entertain the
motion that each of us light candles so that we may enlighten
this hall of democracy.
gentlemen, our pilgrimage is still unfinished, our journey unended;
let us with the candles of our ideals, continue.