A transcript of remarks by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at the Republican National Convention, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012, as prepared for delivery:
When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, the first words out of my mouth were: I still think it is unconstitutional!
The left-wing blogs were merciless. Even my wife said – can’t you please count to ten before you speak?
So, I’ve had time now to count to ten and, you know what – I still think it’s unconstitutional!
Do you think Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas have changed their minds?
I think if James Madison, himself – the father of the Constitution – were here today he would agree with me: the whole damn thing is still unconstitutional!
This debate is not new and it’s not over. Hamilton and Madison fought from the beginning about how government would be limited by the enumerated powers.
Madison was unequivocal. The powers of the federal government are few and defined. The power to tax and spend is restricted by the enumerated powers.
So, how do we fix this travesty of justice? There’s only one option left.
We have to have – a new President!
When I heard the current president say, “You didn’t build that,” I was first insulted, then I was angered, then I was saddened that anyone in our country, much less the president of the United States, believes that roads create business success and not the other way around.
Anyone who so fundamentally misunderstands American greatness is uniquely unqualified to lead this great nation.
The great and abiding lesson of American history, particularly the Cold War, is that the engine of capitalism – the individual – is mightier than any collective.
American inventiveness and desire to build developed because we were guaranteed the right to own our success.
For most of our history no one dared tell Americans: “You didn’t build that.”
In Bowling Green, Ky., the Taing family owns the Great American Donut shop. Their family fled war-torn Cambodia to come to this country. My kids and I love to eat donuts so we go there frequently.
The Taings work long hours. Mrs. Taing told us that the family works through the night to make donuts. The Taing children have become valedictorians and National Merit Scholars.
The Taings from Cambodia are an American success story, so Mr. President don’t you go telling the Taings: “You didn’t build that.”
When you say they didn’t build it, you insult each and every American who ever got up at the crack of dawn. You insult any American who ever put on overalls or a suit.
You insult any American who ever studied late into the night to become a doctor or a lawyer. You insult the dishwasher, the cook, the waitress.
You insult anyone who has ever dragged themselves out of bed to strive for something better for themselves or their children.
My great grandfather, like many, came to this country in search of the American Dream. No sooner had he stepped off the boat then his father died.
He arrived in Pittsburgh as a teenager with nothing, not a penny. He found the American Dream: not great wealth, but a bit of property in a new land that gave him hope for his children.
In America, as opposed to the old country, success was based on merit. Probably America’s greatest asset was that for the first time success was not based on who you were but on what you did.
My grandfather would live to see his children become doctors, ministers, accountants, and professors. He would even live to see one of his sons … a certain congressman from Texas … run for president of the United States of America.
Immigrants have flocked to our shores seeking freedom. Our forbearers came full of hopes and dreams. So consistent and prevalent were these aspirations that they crystallized into a national yearning we call the American Dream.
No other country has a Dream so inextricably associated with the spirit of its people.
In 1982, an American sailor, John Mooney, wrote a letter to his parents that captures the essence of the American Dream:
“Dear Mom and Dad, today we spotted a boat in the water, and we rendered assistance. We picked up 65 Vietnamese refugees. … As they approached the ship, they were all waving and trying as best they could to say, ‘Hello America sailor! Hello Freedom man!’ It’s hard to see a boat full of people like that and not get a lump somewhere between chin and bellybutton. And it really makes one proud and glad to be an American. … It reminds us all of what America has always been – a place a man or woman can come to for freedom.”
Hung and Thuan Tringh are brothers and friends of mine. They came to America on one of those leaky, over-crowded boats. They were attacked at sea by pirates. Their family’s wealth was stolen. Thuan spent a year on a South Pacific island existing on one cup of rice and water each day until he was allowed to come to America. Now both of these men and their families are proud Americans. Hung owns his own business and Thuan manages a large company. They are the American Dream.
So, Mr. President, don’t go telling the Tringh family: “You didn’t build that.”
When the President says, “You didn’t build that,” he is flat out wrong. Businessmen and women did build that. Businessmen and women did earn their success. Without the success of American business we wouldn’t have any roads, or bridges, or schools.
Mr. President, you say the rich must pay their fair share. When you seek to punish the rich, the jobs that are lost are those of the poor and middle class.
When you seek to punish Mr. Exxon Mobil, you punish the secretary who owns Exxon Mobil stock.
When you block the Keystone Pipeline, you punish the welder who works on the pipeline.
Our nation faces a crisis. America waivers. Unfortunately, we are one of a select group of countries whose debt equals their gross domestic product.
The republic of Washington and Jefferson is now in danger of becoming the democracy of debt and despair. Our great nation is coming apart at the seams and the president seems to point fingers and blame others.
President Obama’s administration will add nearly $6 trillion dollars to our national debt in just one term.
This explosion of debt is unconscionable and unsustainable. Mr. President, we will not let you bankrupt this great nation!
Republicans and Democrats alike must slay their sacred cows. Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent, and Democrats must admit that domestic welfare and entitlements must be reformed.
Republicans and Democrats must replace fear with confidence, confidence that no terrorist, and no country, will ever conquer us if we remain steadfast to the principles of our founding documents.
We have nothing to fear except our own unwillingness to defend what is naturally ours, our God-given rights. We have nothing to fear that should cause us to forget or relinquish our rights as free men and women.
To thrive we must believe in ourselves again, and we must never – never – trade our liberty for any fleeting promise of security.
Author Paul Kengor writes of a brisk evening in small-town Illinois. Returning home from a basketball game at the YMCA, an 11-year-old boy is stunned by the sight of his father sprawled out in the snow on the front porch. “He was drunk,” his son later remembered. “Dead to the world … crucified.” The dad’s hair was soaked with melted snow, matted unevenly against the side of his reddened face.
The boy stood over his father for a minute or two. He simply wanted to let himself in the door and pretend his dad wasn’t there. Instead, he grabbed a fistful of overcoat and heaved his dad to the bedroom, away from the weather’s harm and neighbors’ attention.
This young boy became the man – Ronald Reagan – whose sunny optimism and charisma shined so brightly that it cured the malaise of the late seventies, a confidence that beamed so broadly that it pulled us through a serious recession, and a faith that tugged so happily at all hearts that a generation of Democrats became Republicans.
The American Dream is that any among us could become the next Thomas Edison, the next Henry Ford, the next Ronald Reagan.
To lead us forward, away from the looming debt crisis, it will take someone who believes in America’s greatness, who believes in and can articulate the American dream, someone who has created jobs, someone who understands and appreciates what makes America great, someone who will lead our party and our nation forward.
I believe that someone is our nominee: Governor Mitt Romney.
As Reagan said, our freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. If our freedom is taken, the American Dream will wither and die.
To lead, we must transform the coldness of austerity into the warm, vibrant embrace of prosperity.
To overcome the current crisis, we must appreciate and applaud American success. We must step forward, unabashedly and proclaim: You did build that. You earned that. You worked hard. You studied. You labored. You did build that. And you deserve America’s undying gratitude. For you, the individual, are the engine of America’s greatness.