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Speech
31st Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2004)
Alan Keyes
January 24, 2004
Arlington, Virginia

FLOYD BROWN, INTRODUCTION: Well, when you look at the landscape, the political landscape in America, every once in a while, men of principle come along--and this morning's speaker is one of those men of principle.

In the mold of Ronald Reagan, and other key conservatives that have been consistent and upheld to their principles, our speaker is probably one of the most powerful advocates for the life of the unborn, he's one of the most powerful advocates for true conservative principles. You see him on television, you hear him on the radio, he now is currently writing a book, and he has a wonderful website--he's got Declaration.com [Declaration.net], I believe, and then RenewAmerica.us.

He is a genuine conservative. He's worked in the movement, he worked in the Reagan administration in the State Department, he has been an ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, he's worked in the movement, having been president of Citizens Against Government Waste, and a founder of the National Taxpayers' Action Day. He's been a two-time candidate to U.S. Senate, he's been a candidate for the presidency.

But I think the reason we here at CPAC have an extraordinary opportunity today is because he is a man of conviction, he is a man of principle, and when you listen to him, you are hearing pure, unadulterated truth. Let me introduce Ambassador Alan Keyes.

ALAN KEYES: Thank you. Good morning!

For those of you who don't know, as you were just told, I am Alan Keyes.

I do have to wonder, as a lot of people do from time to time, what that means--but I know for certain that I am a Christian, I know for certain that I am an American, and I like to think that I am a conservative.

It's the latter that I'd like to talk to you about today, because I think we're having to be more and more careful, and if we don't start being more careful soon, then we shall have to find a new way to describe people like myself.

I look over the events of the past year or so, and I've got to tell you: I think that there are signs on the horizon that if folks who call themselves conservatives don't wake up and speak up and act up soon, the title "conservative" will mean nothing in our politics!

There was a time when you said "conservative," and you knew what you meant. You said "conservative," and you understood that that would be somebody who understood the real meaning of self-government, and who stood against the consolidation of power in the hands of an all-powerful government.

You knew who you were!

There was a time when you said those words, and you understood that you were speaking of someone who respected the ability of people to care for themselves and demanded that a tax structure exist that would respect their right to earn and use the money that they labored so hard for.

You knew who you were!

There was a time, especially, when you knew for sure that you were speaking of somebody who understood the relationship between self-government and self-discipline, and who knew that we could not survive as a free people if we did not have strong hearts, strong families, and a strong commitment to do the will of God.

You knew who you were!

But I think these days we're allowing ourselves to see that label drift into the hands of folks who have no understanding, no concern about what it really ought to mean.

I was on O'Reilly's show the other day, and he dared . . .

[applause starts]

Huh, huh, huh, huh. Not after I say what I'm about to say.

[laughter]

He dared to describe [Sen. John] Edwards and [Sen. Joseph] Lieberman with the term "conservative."

[audience groans]

Well, I understand that reaction, but come along. I look over the past year, and what do I see? I see the spectacle of groups and organizations, of individuals who have posed for the longest time as the articulators and champions of the conservative philosophy, and they dared to stand before the American people and tell us that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a conservative!

So, if you think O'Reilly made a mistake, he was exampled in that mistake by folks who should have known better.

How long do you think that this movement's going to survive as a viable cause, when we pretend to know what we believe, but are willing to sacrifice and betray on the altar of political expediency those who have dedicated heart and life throughout their careers to a consistent championing of the conservative cause?

I listened to the sick arguments that were made by individuals of all varieties, some of whom have built their very careers on their supposed commitment to conservatism--and there we saw it in California. What was that race? It was a situation that I think was, in some ways, handed to the conservative movement by the providence of God, almost as if He said, "OK, here's your chance. Let's see who you really are." See?

I have heard the arguments. A matter of fact, I, sadly, have been the victim of those arguments from time to time. You know, "Well, we gotta win, and so-and-so can't win, and therefore it's the lesser of evils. We gotta vote for the lesser of evils"--forgetting, as we often want to do, that the lesser of evils is evil still; that, at the end of the day, you keep voting for the lesser of evils, and you will find yourself lost in evil with no way to get back!

But was that the case in California? A failed liberal governor going down in flames. An effort that had been put together over the opposition of many of the so-called liberals and moderates who bear the "Republican" label, to recall him on account of his failures to the people of California--and when that effort succeeded on the strength of popular revulsion against his liberalism, a situation was created where, first, they thought they were going to destroy it by putting lots of candidates in the race, but then somebody must have realized that that meant that the race was going to go to the person who got the strongest plurality.

Now, I know that there are some people who may forget it from time to time, but it is still the case in many situations in America, including California, that when you control all other factors, and you get into a situation like that, the people who are most committed to those things that they believe are most likely to constitute that winning plurality, that's the time when, regardless of labels, when, regardless of phony arguments, you see your chance to pursue a path of principle, and you look around for somebody who, in their career and in their abilities, will articulate those principles in a way that will rally the choir to sing from the same page on election day.

I found it interesting that we moved through that race, and Tom McClintock was doing his job, and just as he got to the point where he was breathing down the neck--Schwarzenegger stalled, he was moving up--it was at that point that certain people started to twist arms and pound the table and tell the lies, to make sure that the conservative heart would not rally 'round the conservative candidate!

Now, I'm having to tell you: if conservatism can't find itself in that situation, then, my friends, you've got to start fearing that it never shall.

If so-called conservative groups are willing to stand behind those who openly and gleefully spit upon the positions that must lie at the heart and soul of the conservative cause, then conservatism means nothing, and it will go nowhere, and we'll have to start again with a new label that better reflects the heart of our beliefs.

But I'm not ready to give up on it. I think we ought to fight for it--and the first way we fight for it is we're going to have to start challenging people, whether it's O'Reilly or any others, we're going to have to start challenging them openly and without any shame when they start to apply the conservative label to those who betray, in their policies and their statements, those things that correspond in truth to the conservative cause!

And yes, I'm a Republican, too. But I'll tell you one thing: just as I will not sacrifice my faith to a partisan label, nor shall I sacrifice my political creed to the arguments that are subservient to the single-minded pursuit of partisan political power.

It is time we understood that for the sake of this nation, for the sake of its freedom, for the sake of its self-government, for the sake of its moral heart and families, we must stand first as conservatives before the people of America, and demand from every party in this nation that they commit themselves in fact to those things that will serve constitutional government and real liberty!

Now, I know that there are folks who are going to come before you, and they're going to tell you, "Well, my friend, forget all that, because we gotta win, and you gotta rally behind this and that. You gotta choke down your beliefs, put aside your principles. Just get in there, hold your nose, pull the lever, don't worry about what you think."

You know, there was a time in America when politicians understood that when you get into a situation where this policy and that policy and the other policy have offended those who, though their support, put you were you are, you understood they don't put side their beliefs, you put aside your abhorrent policies before you ask again for their support!

But no. We are allowing ourselves to be talked to and talked about as if we are the pawns of partisanship, when we ought to be the soldiers of principle.

Decide who you are! Decide what you will stand for--because, if you'll stand for all of this, then in the end this nation will fall.

Now, I don't want to pretend that this year was without, though, its encouragements--but they were encouragements in a way, this one I think of, that encouraged me as Calvary encourages me, when one sees the perfect sacrifice of goodness on the altar of truth.

For, just as Tom McClintock was abandoned by so-called conservatives, though he stood foursquare where we claim conservatives ought to stand, so there was one man in this country who refused to abandon his true conservative and constitutional principles, though in terms of career and power and standing it cost him everything he had--and that man was Judge Roy Moore of Alabama.

Now, there was one for you. In the so-called trial, after which his treacherous colleagues removed him from the chief justiceship, Bill Pryor--and I won't go into that. Will you go into that? I'd like to go into that, but I'll just mention it. I want you to see this role, see? Because when Christ was brought before the Sanhedrin, there was somebody there to question Him and ask Him the questions through which they hoped that somehow they would justify their destruction of His life. And I don't know what his name was in Hebrew or in Aramaic, but I think in English it was Bill Pryor.

[laughter]

Yes. Anyway, in that trial, there was Bill Pryor, asking Judge Moore the question. What was the key question of that trial? All of [unitelligible] don't understand. Do you know what the key question was?

The key question was, "Mr. Chief Justice, if you are allowed to continue in office, will you insist in that office upon your right to acknowledge God?" and the Chief Justice responded, "Yes, I will."

And then they asked him again, Bill Pryor asked him asked him again, "As Chief Justice--I just want to be clear--if you are continued in this office, will you insist upon your right to acknowledge God?" and the second time, he said, "Yes, I will."

And he asked him again a third time, "Will you insist upon your right to acknowledge God?" and he said, "Yes, I will."

And in that moment, he did what even Peter could not find it in himself to do! Three times he was asked to betray his faith and God, and three times he refused--though it cost him all he had.

Do you know when I will believe that the conservative movement in this country has once again found the courage and the heart and the integrity to stand forward, as Ronald Reagan did, and pull it back from the precipice of its loss of liberty and destruction? I'll believe it when every one of you, when everyone who dares to wear the conservative label will stand as Judge Roy Moore did and risk losing everything before they will betray the principles of their faith and their conservative creed!

And I know there are so-called "conservatives" out there who want to confuse us all with the notion that "oh, no, no, Alan, you're wrong; Judge Roy Moore was breaking the law. Judge Roy Moore can't be supported. We're conservative, we respect the law."

I do respect the law. I respect it deeply. That's why, when I see a judge like Myron Thompson telling a state official that he must [not] do what the Constitution of the United States makes clear he, as an official, has the perfect right to do, when I see that judge basing his judgment on a simple and clear and pure fabrication that has nothing to do with the Constitution or the law, then I say to you that we have done, if we've called that the rule of law, what all the founders and all the statesmen in our history understood we should never do: we have substituted the arbitrary rule of men for the rule of law!

There is a difference! There is a difference between constitutional government and judicial dictatorship, and I think it's time we remembered that our Constitution was not put together in order to establish the sovereignty of the judges, it was framed in order to guarantee the sovereignty of the people.

And with respect to the judiciary, they were very careful. There was a reason why that phrase, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," was the first phrase in the Bill of Rights--and I hope that we'll some day come to understand what it really means. It means what it says. What it says is, there can be no federal law that deals with the subject of religious establishment. What it means, therefore, is that if you're sitting on the federal bench, you've got no lawful basis for addressing or interfering with this issue.

But no, no. [Some say,] "Alan, it's in the Constitution!" Well, as I recall, it's that very phrase they use in the Constitution to usurp their authority. So, frankly, the separation of church and state and this mythology they talk about--scour the document, you'll find it nowhere in there. What you will find is a clear statement in the First Amendment that this power is withheld from the federal government, and a clear statement in the Tenth Amendment that "all those powers not given to the federal government, or prohibited in the Constitution to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, and to the people."

Judge Roy Moore did what the people of Alabama elected him to do, and what, under our Constitution, he had the perfect right to do!

When shall we stop calling ourselves conservatives, and start acting like people who understand what it means?

When? Well, we'll do it on the day when Tom McClintock and people like him stand up and find all of those who wear the label rallying 'round the cause! We'll understand it when we find folks standing next to Judge Roy Moore, standing next to those who are willing to look the tyranny in the face, to look the destruction of our Constitution in the face, and do what previous generations of patriots were willing to do: say no to that which destroys the foundations of our liberty.

We have come to that time, my friends, that crisis in which nothing can any longer be taken for granted. The moral basis of our society is being assaulted and destroyed, and the chief instrument of that destruction is the abusive power of the courts. We must break that power, or they will destroy our way of life.

This is all of the message that I wanted to leave with you today--see, because I think there are times when words are not sufficient. The only thing that's sufficient is the deed. Tom McClintock was the deed. Roy Moore was the deed.

Do you want to know and think about, in the course of your gathering here, the real meaning of conservatism? Then know and think about the meaning of their struggle, of their example, of their cause, of their lives, and decide who you shall be.

And if you shall be like them, if you shall stand alone with principle as your only companion, if you shall stand alone with faith as your only foundation, if you are willing to stand alone with only your commitment to America and its principles and its heart as your consolation, then you shall be conservatives again--and in that integrity, you shall be the hope of America.

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