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Radio interview
Alan Keyes on the Scott Thomas show (AM-1160 WYLL)
September 7, 2004
Chicago, Illinois

[opening statements unavailable]

ALAN KEYES, ILLINOIS U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: In our time, a lot of things are coming to a head that have a fundamental impact on things that we know to be important to our faith, including whether we can walk in God's will when it comes to family life in this society.

And I think that's a call to people of conscience to understand that we can make a difference here if we are willing to register to vote and to take action that will correspond to the requirements of our faith.

And that's all that it is. I mean, we are, as individuals, called to act in a conscience that is shaped by the presence of Christ in our lives--and if we do that in every area of life, we are then able to be an influence for good in those areas. And I think that's true in our citizen lives, as well.

And that's what I think everyone needs to take account of now and consider, as these fundamental issues are being brought to the fore during the course of this election, because we've really gotten to a point where fundamental decisions are going to be taken by the people who represent us, and the question is going to be, are they going to represent us, at least insofar as we are people of Christian conscience.

SCOTT THOMAS, HOST: And really, that is sort of the crux of the same-sex marriage issue. It is a group of people that aren't simply asking for something for themselves, but they are asking to change the fundamental definition of what we have called marriage for as long as there has been marriage. And of course, you were asked about that by the satellite radio network host, and you obviously made headlines with the selfish hedonism thing. I heard the news report, and I said, "Well, there's Alan going off and telling the truth again!"

KEYES: [laughs] What can I do?

THOMAS: It's dangerous to be a truth teller in this day and age, isn't it?

KEYES: It is, but I think we have to be very, very clear that this is not a question of being against individuals, per se. It's a question of looking at traditional marriage and what it requires, and saying we cannot allow, in principle, an understanding of marriage that excludes procreation.

Because, that was God's plan. Marriage exists for the sake of procreation, for the commitment made, man and woman, to God's will as it is then exemplified in the child when the two become one flesh, and that is also a commitment of responsibility and self-sacrifice for the sake of respecting God's will for the future.

And that is, I think, the serious understanding of marriage. If we were to adopt a view that just says, "Well, sex is pleasure for pleasure's sake," and we can actually base marriage on that understanding of human sexuality, we would be lying to ourselves. We would basically be telling people marriage is about what you get out of it, marriage is about whether you're taking pleasure from it. And you and I both know that there are times in the course of raising children when there's a lot of sacrifice, a lot of grief, a lot of pain that we're putting aside the things that we would think at some level of our own pleasures we would want, because we're willing to be responsible under God's will for doing what we need to do as parents to satisfy our responsibilities.

Now, that can be a source of great joy at the end of the day, of great satisfaction, of great contentment, of great true happiness--but it involves a willingness, also, to take on great sacrifice and great responsibility.

You can't sell an idea for marriage that sells short the need for that kind of lifelong, serious, and responsible commitment to God's will in the form of your commitment to be responsible parents.

And I think that's what's involved in our debate right now--people trying to substitute an understanding of human sexuality that is really incompatible with the moral foundations of marriage life.

THOMAS: Alan Keyes is my guest. We're going to open up the phones in just a little bit.

My column tomorrow morning on, Alan, in part asks what all the hubbub is about with regard to the selfish hedonism comment. I contend many, maybe most don't even know what hedonism means. The thesaurus doesn't even have a synonym for it. So, I'm curious as to why so many people are offended. Do you think people are objecting to be called hedonists, or do you think they're objecting to being called selfish, or both?

KEYES: Well, I think it might be a combination of both, but I think the selfish part may have been the most objectionable--since, at one level, I think it is clear that when you talk about recreational sex, it's for pleasure, right? And nobody has been particularly abashed about saying that that's an understanding of human sexuality that they're all committed to.

But it's the notion--which actually reflects reality--that it is self-oriented in a way that heterosexual sex it not. Since heterosexual sex is always haunted by the possibility of the child, there's always a sense in which you have be aware of the possibility of that larger commitment. And that, I think, conditions your approach to the whole relationship, and the expectations you have from it.

That's true of both sexes. I think it's probably especially true of women, though, who have to be conscious of the personal and deep change in their lives that could result, and whether--even our times, with all the talk of contraception and all--there is still that extra special burden and challenge for women in the society, as there have been in all civilizations. And I think that that is where the problem arises, because that means selfishness is not really the be-all and end-all when it comes to heterosexual sex. There's always that sense that there might be the need for a commitment to something that goes beyond yourself.

And so, I think it's the selfishness that makes people uncomfortable, and yet it's accurate, in terms of its description of what's involved, and that is the part of it that really has to be closely examined as to whether that is compatible with the moral foundations of married life. I think we all understand that it's not, that there has to be a kind of willingness to transcend yourself, first in the partnership you have with the man or woman you marry, and then in the commitment you both make together to that future that the child represents by God's will.

THOMAS: I contend that when someone buys a $70,000 luxury car when a $18,000 Saturn will get you where you need to go, that that's selfish hedonism. When I have a second piece of cake for dessert when I really should go out and walk off the first piece, that's selfish hedonism. One way or another, we're all selfish hedonists, aren't we?

KEYES: Couldn't it be, though, that part of the reason why that phrase kind of makes people uncomfortable is because it reminds us of the fact that the decision we're taking in this area of marriage actually reflects a larger problem that exists in this society as a whole, where we need to start asking ourselves--and there are large problems, like deficits and other things like this, where we would look around saying, "Are we sacrificing the future for our own short-term interest? Are we putting a burden on our future generations because we want to indulge ourselves today?"

I think that that problem of selfishness is one of the key challenges on a lot of these public policy issues in our time, and maybe it's one we're uncomfortable with.

THOMAS: Alan Keyes is our guest. You had a press conference this afternoon, Alan. What were you talking about?

KEYES: Well, I was actually dealing there with some of the remarks that my opponent had made when he was down south, in southern Illinois, talking about the fact that he wouldn't lie to the people of Illinois, and that he was going to give me a spanking, and other kinds of things. You know, every time I open my mouth, it looks like the people in the media are trying to find fault. This individual can say whatever he pleases, and they don't ask him the tough questions to follow up.

And so, we were just calling attention a little bit to these formulations, and I was kind of asking whether or not the media intended to follow up with some questions that would really examine what he was trying to say in all of that.

THOMAS: And did you get a rousing commitment from the media gathered there to follow up on those?

KEYES: [laughs] Well, we got to talking.

One fellow asked me, by the way, a question about whether or not I had actually said that Jesus Christ would not vote for Obama. OK? And I explained to him that I was reasoning about this problem of infanticide, where we actually have a situation in Illinois where, in the hospitals, a baby born alive after a botched abortion, where the nurse is standing there holding this living baby, separate from the mother, in her arms, and there is a practice of putting the baby aside in the soiled linen bin, or wherever, to just let that child die.

And there's been an effort in the state legislature to stop this practice, and three times Barack Obama has voted against the bill that would stop the practice of letting these babies die. And I was simply saying that as a person of Christian conscience, when I vote, I have to ask myself the same question I ask in other things: am I representing Christ, and if I have somebody representing me--it's just like in my campaign, I try to tell my campaign people, if we're running under a rubric that says we're trying to be faithful people when we deal with other human beings in the campaign or outside of the campaign, we have to reflect that commitment of faith. We can't be representing something that would be false to the banner we're flying under.

And that's true of voting. You know, I can't send somebody off to represent me in the Senate of the United States who is not going to behave in a way that's compatible with my conscience, as shaped by the presence of Christ in my life. I have an obligation to use that vote in such a way that it doesn't contradict the conscientious requirements of my faith.

And I don't think Jesus would let that baby die. I think that He would do everything He could to save that life, just as He was willing to offer His own to save our lives in all eternity. And I think we know that, as Christian folks.

And so, this fellow asked me, "Well does this mean that Jesus Christ wouldn't vote for Barack Obama?" and I had to allow as how I think, as a conscientious Christian, no, Christ would not vote for such a person.

And then they tried to get me to say, "Well, does that mean that Christ would vote for you?" and I said, look, that's not what I'm saying. You know, because I think that that's something that other people would have to judge, based on where I stand and how they feel in conscience about what I offer.

THOMAS: Alan Keyes is my guest for a few more minutes, and he's gracious enough to allow for some phone calls at this point. I'd ask you to get right to your question.

Let's start with Catherine in Lisle. Catherine, you're up first with Alan Keyes on AM-1160 WYLL. Hi, Catherine.

CATHERINE: Good afternoon.

THOMAS: How are you?

CATHERINE: I'm well, thank you. And I thank you for your show, and Mr. Keyes for agreeing to come out here and try and win for us.

My question is, I'm not 100% sure, but I thought I heard a clip of Mr. Obama saying something to the effect, "Ok, we know Mr. Keyes' social positions, but what will we do here regarding taxes and jobs?" So, for those, Mr. Keyes, who focus on that kind of a situation, have you studied what's going on in this, I should almost say, God-forsaken state? Do you have a game plan in mind for those, unlike myself, who would focus and vote on that kind of focus?

KEYES: I certainly do. Let me address that directly first. I think one of the problems with folks like my opponent is that they talk a good game about jobs, but then they do everything in their power to kill the businesses that create the jobs. And this is common sense, it seems to me.

We all know that if you're going to have jobs, you must have businesses. But if you over-tax, if you over-regulate, if you neglect problems like the need for tort reform and reform in malpractice insurance, so that businesses coming into the state are going to face a high litigation tax, where the cost of doing business is raised by all kinds of frivolous lawsuits, or where they can't get proper medical care for their employees because we've let all the doctors be driven out of the state by high malpractice insurance rates. You can talk, talk, talk about jobs, but since you're killing the businesses that create the jobs, it's just lip service, and everybody should know it. And that is the kind of thing I think we need to focus on.

This state is lagging behind other states in this region, in terms of job creation during the present recovery, because of policies that Barack Obama has aided and abetted that create a poisonous environment for business, and that make it difficult for people to come here and stay here.

So, I think that we need to reverse these policies. I also have talked about the fact that we need to fight hard to get trade policies that will be fair to our workers, fair to our farmers, instead of trade policies that are exporting our jobs overseas and keeping big markets like Japan still relatively closed to our agricultural products.

And these are the kinds of things that will realistically and actually lead to jobs for people in Illinois.

THOMAS: Catherine, we appreciate the call. Let's go quickly to Bill in Arlington Heights. Bill, you're next. Hey, Bill.

BILL: Hey, Scott, how are you?

THOMAS: Great. How are you?

BILL: Nice to talk to you again.

THOMAS: And you.

BILL: A couple questions for Alan. Alan, all the best of luck, of course.

KEYES: Thank you.

BILL: Number one, 17th Amendment. My understanding is that you supported rolling back the 17th. So, if you could first comment on that. I'll just give you a few questions, and then I'll hang up and listen.

KEYES: Step number one, yes, I believe that one of the problems and one of the things that has helped to destroy the balance of our Constitution as it was originally written, is that our state governments are no longer represented at the federal level. That was the intention of the Senate, not just to represent the states as geographic entities, but to represent the states as sovereign entities of government.

And that's why, originally, the Senators were elected by the state legislatures. So, when they got there, they would be answerable to those legislatures and have to take careful account of how what happened at the federal level affected the governmental prerogatives of the state government.

And I think that that's an important truth that is no longer being respected under our Constitution--and it has hurt federalism. It has meant that powers that ought to be respected in the state governments have been taken away by the federal courts and by other actions by the federal government, so that the proper balance that keeps powers in the hands of the governments that are closer to the people, where they could have a more immediate influence over what is done by those governments, we have seen those powers eroded in a lot of different areas, and I think that has been a direct consequence of the fact that the state governments no longer have their representatives at the federal level, as the Founders intended.

As I said, though, when this question was raised, I don't think that this is one of the big issues of our time for right now. But, when people ask me a straight question, I'll give them a direct answer, based on the knowledge that I've developed over the years. And that what I think is the case right now, in terms of the balance in our federal Constitution.

THOMAS: And Bill, we thank you for the call. We got time for one more. Dave in Willow Springs, you're up next on AM-1160 WYLL. Hey, Dave.

DAVE: Hello. Thank you and God bless you, Alan. We are totally behind you. We've got a group of people that are supporting you, and we just want to wish you all the best in that.

KEYES: Thank you.

DAVE: Alan, my question is regarding children for fathers that are divorced. I just would like to encourage you to support us fathers that would like to see our children and see our family relationships restored. I'm encouraged by looking in the Bible, and I see God's promises regarding children coming back and fathers being restored their children. I just want to ask you what your opinion would be, and would could be done for us fathers that desire to have normalized relationships with our children, but have been cut off, in a sense, because of divorce.

KEYES: I think that one of the big problems in our society right now is that we don't have respect for fathers. It begins, I think, with abortion--where a decision can be taken with respect to the life of that child as if it had no father. And then we expect, when the child appears in the world, that the father will be good for material support, and we'll run after every father and demand that they pay the money. But we won't respect the fact that fathering isn't just about money. It's about other things in the way of example, and guidance, and responsibility that a father is supposed to provide.

I think we need to restore respect for fathering, and restore respect means, also, that in those tragic circumstances where families are breaking up, we've got to recognize that there should be an equality of understanding, just as there is a partnership in the life of the child between mother and father. And unless there is very good reason, in terms of actual, concrete, proven behavior, both those parents should be respected in the role that they should play in their children's lives.

And I think we have a bias now, unhappily, that says, "Well, fathers don't matter. We can leave fathers out"--just as there was at one time a bias against mothers that said, "Well, mothers can't care for their children, therefore, fathers should get custody."

That's wrong. In either of those cases, we're not respecting the fundamental truth, that for those children to develop as they should, there has to be a presence in their lives, a relationship in their lives that respects the reality that they are "two become one flesh," and that they can't escape that, and that parents shouldn't be able to escape their responsibilities.

And so, I would agree with you. I think that when we're dealing with situations of divorce, there ought to be respect for the fathers' role. It shouldn't be taken for granted that we can just disregard that for any reason, because the ultimate aim should be to make sure that we're serving the best interest of that child.

The partnership, even if it is formally broken, the partnership in life that is a lifelong commitment, ought to be respected wherever that is possible.

THOMAS: And Dave, we thank you for the call. And I know that, Alan, you're on a timed schedule, and we need to let you go.

KEYES: Well, could I say one word? People who want further information about issues can get it at K E Y E S 2 0 0 4 .com.

And there we're posting, we're streaming speeches, we're posting speeches, we're posting articles and other things that summarize my positions on the issues. It's also a good teaching tool, if people want to introduce their friends to what I think and the kinds of things that I represent.

THOMAS: And I'm sure that people can tell their friends and get to know you a little better--a week from Friday, as you host this show for two hours, my guess is you're going to be able to talk about all kinds of things during that two hours.

KEYES: Oh, I will look forward to it. That will be a great time.

THOMAS: Well, listen. May God continue to bless your travels around the state, and may He be with you as you advance the causes that are so important for so many of us. I appreciate you spending some time with us this afternoon, Alan.

KEYES: Glad to be with you. Thank you.

THOMAS: All right. Take care, and we will talk to you down the line. The Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, Alan Keyes, spending some time with us.

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