Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) 2010 Conference. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery
Thank you David and thanks to the American Conservative Union for organizing this critical mass of conservative hope and change.
I am excited about the prospects for conservative Republicans.
Three years of a Democrat majority and just one year of President Obama have awakened Americans and led millions to become more passionate advocates for freedom.
This has created a wave of new Republicans who are embracing the energy and passion of the American people.
The Democrats’ arrogance and audacious power grabs have made Americans stand up and say, "Enough is enough."
We now see all too clearly that the hope and change the Democrats had in mind was nothing more than a retread of the failed and discredited socialist policies that have been the enemy of freedom for centuries all over the world.
And now that the Democrat’s goals are glaringly obvious, the battle is between the American people and the Democrats … and I like those odds!
Americans have been stunned by the fact that in the world’s greatest bastion of freedom, our government now owns the largest auto companies, the largest mortgage company, and the largest insurance company.
It controls our schools and is trying to take over our healthcare system.
The federal government is assaulting almost every sector of our free market economy.
At a time when I fear America is teetering towards tyranny, I was thrilled to hear that CPAC adopted the theme of saving freedom for this year’s meeting.
Saving freedom is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I published a book last year and titled it “Saving Freedom” because the danger of losing freedom is no longer theoretical … it is very real.
I wanted to remind people that our country has been the most prosperous nation in history and exceptional in so many ways because our economy, culture and government were built on principles of freedom that were unique in the entire world.
An understanding of America’s history will confirm that good government policy is always based on proven principles, and proven principles are derived from constructive values, and constructive values are founded on Judeo/Christian convictions.
If we remove the foundation for our principles and policies, America will fall.
Those principles were written into a contract with the American people that promised to limit the federal government’s power.
We call that contract the Constitution and, when it was signed, it didn’t even allow a federal income tax — that sounds like a good way to limit the size of the federal government to me.
Every congressman, senator, President and Supreme Court justice takes an oath to protect and defend that constitution. And I think it’s time they started honoring that oath!
The principles of freedom require limited government and a vibrant private sector. Freedom cannot exist without free markets, individual freedom and personal responsibility.
Real freedom includes the right to succeed, to build a large business and to make lots of money.
It also includes the freedom for mismanaged and insolvent institutions to fail.
Despite the clarion call for freedom from the American people, there is still a struggle within the Republican Party about who we are and what we stand for.
It’s a fight between those who take their Constitutional oath seriously and those who don’t.
We all swear an oath to protect and defend a Constitution that specifies a very limited federal government.
It’s hard for me to believe that Congressman and Senators who continue their addiction to parochial earmarks and their support for almost every new spending program have read the same Constitution I have.
That’s why I, along with several other Republican Senators, introduced a budget reform proposal a few weeks ago. This proposal would put a one-year moratorium on earmarks and require Congress to balance the federal budget.
All Republicans should support these two commonsense bills. There are currently 12 Republican Senators who have co-sponsored this budget reform proposal and no Democrats.
My website Senateconservatives.com lists the names and phone numbers of those who have and haven’t signed on as co-sponsors.
Please use those phone numbers to encourage Senators who are not cosponsoring these proposals to join us.
Folks – with our country drowning in debt – if we can’t give up pork for one year and won’t even try to balance the budget now, there’s no reason to think we will do it tomorrow.
We can’t continue to trust budgets that call for more spending, borrowing and debt today with vague promises to cut spending sometime in the future.
We should all take caution from the biblical admonition from Proverbs “the borrower is slave to the lender”… a truth that becomes more apparent for our country every day.
We’re piling up trillions of dollars of debt for our children to pay. Well … I refuse to commit my children and grandchildren to a lifetime of debt slavery because people in Washington are too willing to trade freedom for earmarks and kickbacks!
I’ve been criticized by some of my Republican colleagues for saying I’d rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who don’t believe in anything.
Let me make myself even clearer: I’d rather have 30 Marco Rubios in the Senate than 60 Arlen Specters.
But, if that were the case I wouldn’t have to settle for 30, because strong conservatives who believe in a constitutional limited government like Marco Rubio will pave the way to a new Republican majority that will keep our promises to the American people!
The best way to re-earn the trust of the American people and to reclaim a Republican majority is to find and support more candidates who believe in the Principles of Freedom.
That’s why I founded the Senate Conservatives Fund. That’s Senateconservatives.com for those of you who are taking notes.
I’m afraid we’re causing a little trouble for the establishment.
You see, I believe in holding incumbent Republican Senators accountable to the principles that we all say we believe in.
When Republican senators don’t do the things they say they believe, voters should have a choice of a new Republican … a real Republican.
So we endorsed Pat Toomey over Arlen Specter in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania. And that seemed to encourage Arlen Specter to follow his liberal roots back home to the Democratic Party.
We caused some more trouble when we endorsed Marco Rubio in Florida after the Republican Senate Committee endorsed Charlie Crist.
Then we endorsed another true conservative, Chuck DeVore, in California, over the favorite of the Republican establishment. Chuck is here at CPAC so please give him a hero’s welcome.
We’ve also endorsed Michael Williams in Texas to replace Senator Hutchinson who has announced she will retire from the Senate after her primary for governor in March. Michael is here and I can’t wait for you to hear him speak.
Now let’s talk a minute about the Presidential race in 2012. I hope Americans will expect more from their next president than a great speech.
You can’t govern from a teleprompter.
Just because you are good on TV doesn’t mean you can sell socialism to freedom-loving Americans.
We need a leader who will remind Americans how we became the greatest nation in history and what we need to do to make sure we’re still the greatest nation in the future.
This will require telling Americans the cold, hard truth … which is … if America is going to survive and thrive in the future, the federal government must do less, not more.
No more false hope and empty promises based on more failed government solutions.
We need to get back to the basics.
That means no more bailouts.
That means we will not spend money we don’t have.
It means we won’t throw out the faith of our Founding Fathers.
And it definitely means we won’t give away our precious Constitutional rights to foreign terrorists who want to destroy us!
America’s future will be brighter than our past if politicians have the courage to stop using other people’s money to impose their good intentions on others…
… and if they have the courage to restrict the federal government to only those things that it has to do — like defend our nation, create a predictable, low-tax business environment, and keep our promises to seniors and veterans.
Then — for those things that don’t have to be done at the federal level – we should return power and money to the people and the states.
Reducing the size and scope of the federal government is the only way to cut spending, to save freedom and to save America.
We need leaders who are willing to tell the American people this truth.
Please continue to help supporting, promoting and believing in those leaders.
In closing, I want to thank each of you personally for your support and encouragement. You regularly recharge my batteries.
I didn’t come to Washington to make friends and I haven’t been disappointed so far.
I have taken many positions that have offended the President, the Democrat leadership, the union bosses, the plaintiff’s bar, Move On.Org, the liberal media and even some of my Republican colleagues.
Frankly, sometimes I feel like I’m trying to hold back the tide, and the constant fighting can be tiresome.
If I couldn’t come here every year and plug into the CPAC renewable energy source, I wouldn’t have the strength to even show up at Waterloo, much less win the battle. Thank you!