I know a little something about adventure.
In the late 1970s, the leader of the Republican minority in the U.S. House of Representatives used to greet newly elected Republican members with a white flag of surrender. "Every day I wake up and look in the mirror and say to myself, ‘Today you’re going to be a loser,’" said the former minority leader. "And after you’re here awhile, you’ll start to feel the same way. But don’t let it bother you. You’ll get used to it."
A party whose leader would offer such advice deserves to be in the minority — and we were, for 40 years. But in 1994 we changed that with a bold ideas-based, values-led grassroots movement. We believed in transformational leadership: accountability in government, balanced budgets, lower taxes, stronger defense and reforming the welfare state. And we believed this: To bring about this transformation, we had to reject the minority leader’s advice. We would not "get used" to losing. We would win. And win we did.
But today, 12 years later, conservatives are grasping for a reinvigorated movement that will return our party to its roots of smaller government, innovative ideas and common sense solutions. The situation is serious. We are in jeopardy of losing the majority we won in 1994. Now is the time to act.
Five Challenges to Our Future
History is full of once great but now collapsed civilizations, e.g. Rome, Greece, the Aztecs, the Mayas. And yet as Americans, we deceive ourselves into believing that somehow we are permanent, that we will escape the fate of those who also believed that they were unconquerable.
My stepfather was a career soldier who served America in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It was while living in France — where the damage of World War II bombs and the suffering of those wounded were still apparent — that my father’s lessons hit home for me. We toured the battlefield of Verdun, the greatest battle site of the First World War. I realized then that the difference between preserving our freedoms and losing them to tyrants is the quality of our leaders, the courage of our people and the willingness to work every day for the implementation of the solutions necessary for our survival.
The future cannot be left to chance. The future must be won.
Today, in order to win the future, there are five challenges that America must meet:
- Confronting a world in which America’s enemies, including the irreconcilable wing of Islam and rogue dictatorships, could acquire and use nuclear or biological weapons;
- Defending God in the public square;
- Protecting America’s unique civilization;
- Competing in the global economy in an era of the economic rise of China and India, which will require transformations in litigation, education, taxation, regulation, and environmental, energy and health policies for America to continue to be the most successful economy in the world;
- Promoting active, healthy aging so more people can live longer, which will require dramatic transformation in pensions, Social Security and health care.
For 400 years, in the spirit of freedom and entrepreneurial pioneering, we have defined a better America that has overcome every challenge. It is in this tradition that I will regularly share my thoughts here on the solutions necessary for our generation to meet these challenges and win the future.
I can make only one promise: It will be challenging and engaging, and it will never be dull. But then again, adventures never are.