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Renew America rally in Alabama
Alan Keyes
April 29, 2000

Good evening! Thank you for coming. I am going to, I guess, have to repay your willingness to come out and listen for a few minutes in an unaccustomed way. Because, while I do mean to show my gratitude for your being here, I also think it would be important to spend the next few minutes--fewer than I would usually have because I have to catch a plane--so I am faced with the challenge of having to lay out for you what I believe to be the critical stage that this nation is in, with perhaps a little more directness than I might otherwise do. And as all of you've probably heard, I'm pretty well known for my directness anyway, so you're in for something special. [laughter]

But, I think that we are coming down to the wire in terms of the fate of this nation's freedom. I was thinking of that over the course of the last weekend when, as you know, this famous episode in Miami occurred. We saw sent around the world this picture of a six-year-old with automatic weapons stuck in his face, as they grabbed him out of the clutches of the wicked, evil, bad folks in Miami, whose crime was that they loved him too much. And they decided to take him off, and, actually, take him off under an understanding that sadly, though we ought to know this as Americans, we no longer seem to understand.

Because I was noticing a cover on TIME, I think it was, that has "Papa!" and so forth. And the whole mythology that Elian is going back to his father really irks me. You know that that cannot be true in Cuba. Don't you? Because Cuba is a Communist totalitarian society, one of the few on the face of the earth where they thoroughly implement the concept of Communism, and that means the children are not raised by their parents in Cuba. They are raised by the Castro Communist totalitarian state. And as I've often pointed out to folks, I deeply believe that fathers have the right to decide where their children are living. And with the mother gone and so forth and so on, it is absolutely the right of that father to decide whether that child is going to be with him or not, provided that the decision can be made in freedom.

There's just one problem with Cuba. No decision taken by a parent in Cuba can be made in freedom, because no parents in Cuba live in freedom. And that faces us with an awesome dilemma. It means we've got a government that just did the bidding of the Communist master of Cuba, and he decided this time that he would do it in the fashion of the Communist master of Cuba. So, they've implemented this thuggery against citizens of the United States.

And I don't even think we even recognize what's going on because people are coming out saying, "This is a family dispute," and so forth and so on. Last time I looked, you don't solve most of these family disputes with automatic weapons. And there are a lot of other ways this could have been dealt with. Why do you think they did it this way? Well, they did it this way because this is THE way of the Clinton era in order to get the American people accustomed to the fact that we are no longer the free people we once were. Knocks on the door in the middle of the night with people coming to snatch away your children or yourself--those are things we used to associate only with the Communist tyrannies that we fought against. But now this is an image you must associate henceforward with your country! And if you think it will be confined, in the days to come, to families like that of Elian Gonzalez, think again. For, what we are looking at is a dress rehearsal for your future.

The tyranny in this nation has already begun. They're easing us into it, so that by the time the stench grows bad enough, we will have gotten so used to it. We won't even recognize the images of that tyranny. And this is sad. But it's where we are, and it's where we've been heading for a long time. And, I don't think that we have much longer to turn around. I cannot understand why Americans believe that we can go on destroying the most important foundations of our whole way of life, and expect it to survive. Why do you think this is going to happen? I guess it's because, like so many other things, we tend in our political life to take everything for granted. "Always been this way, therefore, it will always be this way." That's not true.

We live in a century that proves it without a doubt. There were whole civilizations wiped off the face of the earth in the 20th century. Even the one in Europe, which they claim to have rebuilt from the rubble, is not today what it was before it destroyed itself in two world wars. And the people who lived both before the first one and in the interim between the first and second, they thought it would always be thus. They lived oblivious to the destruction that would be wrought in their own society--and, sadly, I think we do, too.

And right now, in the midst of a little material prosperity, and so forth and so on, some of us believe that nothing bad is ever going to happen. That's not true. I think we're just in a little lull before the storm. Given the nature of our technology, and the new means that we have, not only to abuse man's physical nature, but to distort and abuse the very essence biologically and genetically of that nature itself, the tyranny that is to come will fasten itself upon us in ways that we have not even begun to imagine.

And why would this happen? Because, as a people, we took the heritage of freedom, threw it away. We watched it be destroyed before our very eyes! We sat by silently while the basic principles and concepts on which it rests were taken out of our public life and wrested even from the very consciousness and souls of children, and didn't even know what was going on. That all sounds very dramatic; why would I say that? I think it's very clear. This nation was founded on a clear, simple and easily stated premise. Right there in the Declaration, they make it crystal clear: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." The importance of that statement is that it makes it clear that the claim that we have to human rights and dignity does not come, as some folks in the ACLU want us to believe, from the Bill of Rights and it doesn't come from the Constitution, and it doesn't come from the laws passed by the Congress, and it doesn't come from the decisions that are taken by the Supreme Court. That claim to human dignity and human rights, which is the foundation of our whole way of life, rests on the power and the will, the existence and the authority of Almighty God--not on any human foundation.

That is a powerfully important statement, because it contains that creed which then becomes the basis for courage and perseverance, even in the face of the vast array of human power. Why we are fighting for our rights is because we know, or at least we have grown to be certain, what most people at most times in the history of the world did not even imagine: that we have a dignity sanctioned by the most awesome power there is in the universe--and that when we fight to sustain it, we do not stand alone, no matter what powers seem to stand against us. I think that that has emboldened many hearts in the history of this nation to fight for its independence, to fight against slavery, to fight for the rights of women, to fight against the abuses of workers, to fight for all those things that, down through the years of this nation's life, have extended the promise and reality of freedom to more and more of our people, have allowed more and more of us to stand with that dignity which was the promise of our founding. And the courage that allowed folks to achieve all those results, even when the world stood totally arrayed against them, came ultimately from that belief that, though you may seem at first to stand alone, you can still prevail, because the Lord stands with you.

What do you think happens, then, if we let that go? And we are letting it go. We have already let it go in so many ways. We have let it go by buying into the lie being told by the folks in our courts right now who have taken the principle that our rights came from God and thrown it on the ash heap of history. That's the significance, by the way, that is so often lost about the abortion issue, and it's why I always get to it, at some point or other, in my discussions of America's present life. Because some people think, even in the right to life movement--I was at a dinner the other night in which, you know, a very big right to life organization was holding its national dinner. We go through the whole evening and they'll talk about wonderful achievements, getting the numbers of abortions down, and all this other sort of stuff. They talk about the abortion issue as if it is only an issue of how many babies we have killed, and how many we are going to reduce the number of, as if nothing else is involved than that loss of physical life.

That loss of physical life is indeed bad enough. It's heinous. It's criminal, but, at the end of the day, that is not the only loss this nation suffers. And no matter what specious arguments can be used to try to demean and degrade the physical life in the womb, those arguments don't hold a candle in their effect to the one reality that, once we have adopted the principle of this abortion lie, we have abandoned the principle of our freedom.

Our rights don't come from God if they are based upon our mother's choice. And once we have banished God from the throne of that authority, then we have no claim to liberty or dignity that cannot, in the end, be trampled down and destroyed by the superior power of force, or wealth, or ability. And one of the things this nation is suppose to stand for is the equal dignity of all, regardless of station, standing, intelligence, ability, whatever it might be. That acknowledgment that in every human being, in every human life, there is present a kernel of God's word and divinity that must be respected by every human will and power whatsoever. But once we embrace the abortion lie, we throw away that truth that is the foundation of our justice.

And it is not the only area in which we are fast abandoning our acknowledgment of that sovereignty of God. We're doing it in our schools! I find it amazing. Here we live in a country, the first principle of which is "all men are created equal," and yet you go into our tax-funded, government-dominated schools, and it is forbidden to teach the concept of the Creator, or even to acknowledge His existence or mention His name, much less speak as if His authority has meaning for our lives. You really think that the children in these new generations are going to grow up with the courage to stand firm for their liberty, when they no longer acknowledge the authority from which that liberty is derived? Still think they're going to have the courage to stand against the vast array of human material powers, when they no longer believe that their claim to dignity is sanctioned by an authority greater than those powers?

See, I think that, once you've convinced people that this material equation is all there is, you've put them in a position where, when faced with overwhelming odds, they're going to surrender. And that has been the case throughout most of human history. Most people didn't fight against tyranny, they simply bowed down to it, surrendered to it. I often used to marvel, as I read the accounts of all these great empires in history where a handful of human beings had managed to subjugate masses of millions. Ever wonder how that can happen? Well, it happened because, in the end, human beings are not subjugated by the force of sword and gun. They are shackled by the fears that darken the mind, that cloud the vision, that destroy the courage, that undermine the sense of dignity, that make people believe that, in the end, whatever it is that is meted out by power is their just desserts--because "might makes right," because force legitimizes everything.

We live in a society where that ugly principle of destructive injustice was overturned and thrown aside, in order to lay the foundation for that land whose freedom we enjoy, but the foundations of which we are now neglecting.

How much longer can we go on before we will fully reap the bitter fruits of that neglect? In terms of the destruction of our moral character and decency, I think over the last several years we've already seen that the fruits are already there, undermining and destroying our institutions at the highest level. And I don't only mean the lack of decency, the shameless lack of integrity of our "President," so-called, Bill Clinton. I mean, even more so, the fact that those who should have called him to account for his shameless lying and disregard for the Constitution and the integrity of our institutions--those sitting in the Congress and sitting in the Senate of the United States--did not have the integrity to kick him out when he deserved to be gone. That's an indictment of their integrity, but it's also, I think, a telling warning of the extent of which we have lost our own. For, they are our representatives, and you do at some point have to wonder whether they do not represent us all too well.

And I think that that is, in fact, what's at stake in this election year, in which many things are coming together to make it clear that Americans are going to have to decide for or against the moral heritage that makes us free. We have an offer, of course, in the Democrats, in the Clinton administration now, a road clearly marked as the path without decency, without dignity, without moral consciousness. In which, once again, we have enshrined the worship of force, even at the most intimate levels of our lives, "might makes right" and the only thing we need care about are the material results that are produced. And if we get the bitter bark of tyranny, then we will subject ourselves to tyranny, so long as we have the little material things that we think we need to get along.

Isn't that living in slavery? See, I've always thought it is because, well, I guess it's because of my own sense of the background of my ancestors in this country. People always badmouth slavery, with good reason you know, but, when you read in depth about it, what you realize is that there were the "good plantations" and the "bad plantations." There were plantations on which people were deeply brutalized, and abused, and treated worse than animals, and destroyed in their integrity, and so forth. And then there were others that were run by half-way decent people, in which the only thing that they were deprived of was their human dignity and the essence of their humanity! But in every other respect, they ate well, dressed well, slept well, were cared for in their health, had a guaranteed job, a little income on the side, and nothing too much in the way of abuse. When the Clintons are done and the Socialists have triumphed, you tell me what will be the difference between America and that plantation with a good master!

See, what I learned from that history is what Frederick Douglas taught: the question isn't whether you have a good master or a bad master, it's to be your own master. That is the dignity of humanity.

We have surrendered it in principle. We are surrendering it in fact. We are surrendering it in fact when we allow them to assault our Second Amendment rights and take away the wherewithal to defend ourselves against the abuses of government power. We are surrendering it in fact when we stand aside and allow them to create new categories of law like "hate crimes" that can only be abused, in order to bring government power against our free exercise of speech and religious conscience. When are we going to wise up and realize what's going on?

See, I've watched this whole development of the hate crime thing. And some people might say, "Well, Alan, you can't be in favor of hate crime!" Frankly, my friends, I'm totally against that category. I don't see what is added to the concept of crime by putting "hate" into it. I mean, after all, if I go out and murder a bunch of people, and they come to me and say, "Why did you do it?" And I say, "Well, I did it because I deeply believe that the afterlife is waiting for all of us, and it's wonderful and glorious and full of things that all will enjoy. And I just wanted to dispatch them to those places sooner. I did it because I love them so much." Now, do you think that when the jury hears the full account they ought to exonerate me for that love crime? [laughter]

See, the point I'm making is pretty clear, isn't it? It's not the hate and it's not the love that makes the crime. It's the deed! And if you perform the deed, we should punish you for the deed.

But when we start to examine it and start to say, "Well, we're going to take a different attitude toward the deed if you did it out of hatred." Really? There's going to be some different punishment or degree of punishment? If I kill you in cold blood without hatred because you queered my drug deal, I'm not going to be treated quite as badly as if I killed you because I hate this or that group? I mean, what are we doing here? Well, I'll tell you what we're clearly doing. The concept of hate crime adds nothing to the concept of crime whatsoever, except an opportunity to put into law legislation that moves against those who foment the attitude. And that's exactly, it's the only reason why this category has been invented--and don't think that's an academic discussion either, because it's not.

Already in Illinois, a bill is going through the legislature, the premise of which is that you're going to get fined and thrown in jail if a speech that you give is later cited by somebody who commits an act of violence as an incitement to their act. Can you imagine anything more chilling to free speech than that? You have no control over what people are going to do in response to what you say, but, regardless of that fact, you could be held accountable, because you're "fomenting hate."

And the interesting thing, too, for a lot of you to consider, is that this concept of hate crimes seems to be a little selective. Because I've noticed now that when folks go out and kill people whose primary distinguishing characteristic seems to be that they're Christian, that's a shame. When they go out and kill one of the darling protected groups of the left-wing ideologists, that's a "hate crime." Have you noticed that? Because I've noticed that. And that tells me that this category of "hate crime" is being set up particularly in order to move against certain kinds of opinions that are not now in line with the politically-correct sectioning of moral destruction and perversion that is trendy with the left. It's all done so that religious conscience can be assaulted, and religious belief can be overturned, and the force of law can be used against those opinions that are not in line with the moral degradation of our time. This means that the assault upon our religious liberties is already well underway.

In every area, therefore, even in the economic area--I believe that this whole concept of the income tax is a way of enslaving us with our own means and then dribbling it back to us a little bit in the way of results, so we can be grateful when they let us keep our own money. See, that ought to tell you something about the nature of those who are putting such a system in place. Because the kind of people who make you feel grateful when they let you keep a little bit of your own money are the kind of people you're liable to meet on a dark street. And you'll feel grateful because they could have taken it all when they mugged you, but instead they left you with enough to get home.

This is not how we are supposed to regard our political leaders. But it is what our economic system today is organized to make us feel. And that's true, even on the Republican side. I used to watch my colleagues stand up there, they're debating back and forth their wonderful tax schemes, and it turns out, what are they debating? How much or how little of your own money your going to be allowed to keep! And if they let you keep a little bit more, you're to get down on your knees and thank "massa politician" and go on back to the office. This is not the right attitude of a free people, and it's not an economic system compatible with our freedom.

You know, the sad thing about that is we've lived so long with the stench of it that we don't even recognize anymore that it is a system that subjugates our liberty. I think there was a good reason why our Founders wrote the original Constitution in such a way that a federal income tax could not constitutionally be imposed on the people of this country. And I think that we will perform the greatest blessing that we could for future generations if we find it in ourselves, soon, in this generation, to correct the error that was made at the beginning of the 20th century.

We don't need to reform the tax, we don't need to change its rates, we don't need to tinker with it, we don't need to take the code and do this or that, we don't need to simplify it, we don't need to flatten it. We need to abolish it, get rid of it, and return to the original Constitution!

By the way, when people try to pretend, "Oh, how are we going to fund the government?" Under the original Constitution, there were many sources of revenue--tariffs, duties, excise taxes. And if you examine the record of the 19th century, as I understand it, they actually managed to produce surpluses in the years of our development. When this country was going through the challenge that, in many respects, is the most difficult challenge of economic life, moving from the pre-development stage to the stage of a modern industrialized economy, the whole business, the development of the infrastructure, the opening of the west, the fighting of this or that western war, all of it financed under a system that did not have a federal income tax. And during the Civil War, when they did impose one, it had the wonderful effect of producing the only years in which there was a deficit. Fascinating, isn't it?

So, I think that all these so-called objections are simply ways of distracting us from the truth. The aim of the income tax system does not have to do with the revenue, because there are other ways to generate the revenue. The aim has to do with control, and making sure that we are not back in control of the hard-earned money that we make. That might be a good objective for the politicians. I don't see how it does a thing for us.

So, in all these different ways, in the area of religious liberty, in the area of principle, in the area of our Second Amendment rights, in the area even of our economic life, we have already surrendered our liberty. The question that is before us in this time is not whether we shall lose it, but whether we shall recognize in time the loss, so that we can get it back. And that's what I think people ought to be thinking about when they go to the polls in this election year. We ought to be thinking about how we get it back.

Now, I know that there are some Republicans who disagree with this, and they seem to believe, for reasons I do not understand, that "all we've got to do is go out there, bad-mouth some Democrats, and we'll win." I've got news for them. Unless something drastic happens to the economy--and I know there are some in the Republican leadership who, although unaccustomed to prayer under normal circumstances, are assiduously praying that the economy will collapse before November. Now, I am, I guess, as partisan in that respect as anybody, but let me just ask you, how many of you are praying that the economy will collapse before November? See, the interesting thing about that is even though some politicians might benefit from the economic collapse, I think most of the rest of us understand we would be on the receiving end of that collapse. And I don't think there are too many people in their right mind in America who, for the sake of getting some Republican in the presidency, would like to see our people jobless, and suffering, and homeless, and deprived of that which is the fruit of their work. I don't want to see it.

So, I don't want the prosperity to end. I want the prosperity that, in any case, is not produced by Bill Clinton, or the Congress, or any other politician--it's produced by the hard work, and sweat, and sacrifice, and genius of the American people. I want to see it continue. But I also know, my friends, that if it does continue, the historical record suggests that if the prosperity continues, if the economy is chugging along pretty well in November, then the Republicans are going to lose--because the American people have, in the course of the 20th century, never taken the White House from an incumbent party in prosperous times. They don't do it. This actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. You see, all other things being equal, why on earth would you want to take the White House out of the hands of a party that, if nothing else, hasn't interfered with your prosperity, and entrust it into some other hands unknown in their results? In that respect, Americans are pretty common-sense people. They'd rather keep a bird in the hand than get a dozen promised by G. W. Bush. And I have a feeling this is how it's going to prove out in November, all other things being equal. But guess what? All other things are not equal.

On the economic front things may be going okay--even despite the egregious betrayals of our national security and interests, despite the fact that at every instance, including this most recent thing with Castro, this administration proves itself to be not only the willing cooperates of the Communist regimes, they are the willing puppets and cat's paws of these Communist dictators, and have been every time they have been asked to do the will of any Communist government. They have bowed to the will of the Communist Chinese dictators and the North Korean dictators, and now the Castro Cuban dictator. It seems to be their way. But in spite of all that, we are still not in the midst of a great international crisis which will likely have any effect on the election in November.

But there is a crisis. It is the crisis of our moral decency and integrity. There is a betrayal. It is the betrayal of our most sacred moral principles. There is a dangerous assault. It is the assault upon that moral heritage which is the source of our strength. And never before in the history of our country have we seen an assault so deep, so sharp, so shameless, and so sustained upon our moral heritage as the assault that has come from Bill Clinton and the Democrat party during the Clinton era. For that, and for the sake of the future that depends upon the restoration of our moral decency, they should be driven from the White House and from every office of responsibility in this land.

But, truth to tell, in order to make that case, we're going to have to make that case. And this is one of the things that deeply worries me. What we need in November is someone who is going to go out and be accurate and true in drawing the bow of our moral concern, and driving the arrow through the mark of Democrat betrayal and moral turpitude. And what I fear is happening in the Republican Party, some say has happened, is that instead we will entrust our nomination to somebody who can't even draw the bow. And I don't mean that as a personal disparagement. I mean it as a simple comment of competence. In order to get people to understand the political significance of this moral betrayal, you must understand the moral roots of our political system, and you must be able to articulate them in every area of policy that faces us, so that the American people can understand the relevance to our lives and our practice of those moral principles. And, if you can't do that, then this fall, you will not be able to defeat our Democrat opponents in the presidential election. And that's the sad factor that, I believe, they are totally vulnerable on, the moral flank. We need a champion who can attack them effectively on that flank--and judging by the way things are going at the moment, we won't have one. That's going to result in a loss that will not just be a loss for the party but for the country.

And why are we heading in this direction? I hate to tell you this, but judging by what I see now in the preparations for the Convention, one of the reasons we're heading in this direction is because that's where many of the leaders of the party want us to go. They're doing their best to set us up to destroy the moral heart of the party, to dilute to pro-life plank, to stomach some pro-abortion person on the ticket. And if we do those things, we will betray the moral heritage, not just of our country, but of our party. We will destroy our political prospects because I, and many millions of other Americans like me, will not abandon our God for the sake of any party label.

On a practical level, this is the challenge I would like to leave with you this evening, because some people think it's all over, and I know it's not. In terms of the great issues that confront the country, we need to have a Republican convention where the delegates are committed to standing firm on the moral issues of our time. I look over the scenery right now, and all I hear coming from around the country suggests that the folks who appear at that convention as Bush delegates are going to be kind of a mixed curve. Some folks who don't care too much about the moral issues--there will be some who are committed, there will be others who are right clean on the wrong side. It's going to be a far greater mixture of elements than we had at the Dole convention. Some people don't realize this, but we are in for a different world. Bob Dole came, regardless of his later stances and what he did during the election, he came from the solid Conservative wing of the Republican party. G. W. Bush comes from liberal wing that traces its roots back to Rockefeller and all the other people like him. And that means that you're going into a convention in which those elements are going to have a role. There will be others, but even though they'll side with the Bush delegation, they'll be kind of a mixed bag. The McCain delegates are going to be awful, in my opinion. People will say what they will about Mr. McCain, but what he represented was the introduction into the Republican Party of elements of liberalism and moral betrayal that will speak their mind at the convention to destroy the pro-life plank, and to preach tolerance for some pro-abortion nominee in the Vice Presidency. This will destroy us.

So, we're going to have at work forces at the Republican convention that are going to be pretty bent on achieving what they could not achieve the last time. And some of the forces that were there to fight them last time won't be there. Bay Buchanan, for instance, who was, along with other of the Buchanan folks, part of the coalition of people who put together a strong Conservative platform. They're now over working in the Reform Party. Gary Bauer was instrumental in those days, and sadly he betrayed every principle in his political career by endorsing a nominee who stood for everything he had stood against. We'll have some good-hearted folks ready and willing to work, but it seems to me we're going to need to maximize that number as best we can. And of this I am sure. You will find that every single person who goes to that convention, and who is representing the cause of the Keyes campaign at that convention, will be solid for American principles, solid for the American Constitution, solid for the conservative values and goals that will guarantee our liberty, solid for that agenda which alone can assure the survival of self-government in this country. And it seems to me that if we care about our party, we need to make sure there are as many such solid voices of Conservatism as we can get at the Republican Convention this summer.

So, I think that if you really care about this future, you will understand that there is no such thing in this election cycle as a wasted vote. If you care, and if you believe, then go cast your vote for your beliefs. There is work to be done. And if those of us who care are willing to take the risk of standing firm in our beliefs, then I believe that work can be done successfully.

We may not be able to buck the tide this time around and assure that we don't have to face more years of misrule and betrayal by this Democrat coalition that has abandoned our moral heart, but we can at least work to secure the position of the Republican party as a solid vehicle for our moral hopes. Because I know this. If we continue to fight so that the leadership in our party provides to the American people a clear, articulate, effective voice representing the moral alternative, the heart of this nation is hungry for that truth.

The only thing that keeps us now from victory is the half-heartedness of those who have the spotlight on behalf of the Republican Party. With our work and our perseverance, we can change that. With your support we can change that. So long as in our conviction we do not flag. So long as in our vote we do not betray the principles of our heart and conscience. If you can persevere in this task, then I believe we set the stage for that renewal of American hope, that restoration of American principle, which will guarantee that the light of our liberty will continue to shine in the 21st century, as it has against the darkness of tyranny in the 20th.

I am not sure how this will turn out--for we are at a crossroads between the dark night of liberty, and the continuance of that hope we are suppose to represent. But I still shall put my faith in the American people, but above all, in God Almighty--in the knowledge that if we walk that walk that is consistent with His will, in the end we will prevail.

God bless you.
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