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Iowa Straw Poll Speech
Alan Keyes
August 14, 1999

Thank you very much. I wanna begin . . . You know the one thing I think we sometimes most lack in our politics these days? Just a little dose of truth. Should we have some? [applause]

Let's begin by telling some truths about where we stand in terms of the President of the United States right now--because we shouldn't beat around the bush.

We are coming to the end the most disgraceful, the most immoral presidency in the history of this country. We are coming to the end . . . [applause] We are coming to the end of a presidency in which he has assaulted the integrity of his office, violated his oath, assaulted the dignity and integrity of the judicial branch, and by . . . and let us not put too fine a point on it . . . if nobody else in this country, and nobody else in this party will call it by its right name, I will. He has assaulted the security of this country, by his treasonous betrayal of our national security. [applause]

It's time. [applause] And God knows that he has assaulted the most important element of our lives, he has assaulted the moral foundation and character of our country. We can not even speak the name of this President in the face of our children, without shame before those children and the world. [applause]

But let us speak as well this truth: this is a President that has betrayed our most sacred moral heritage. But it's time we asked ourselves whether we as a people are still committed to that heritage. Lincoln described this as government of the People, by the People, for the People.

There are some on the Democrat side who seem now to believe that the people exist for the government, not the government for the People. And there are some on the Republican side who seem to believe that we are ready to surrender now to a government of the money, by the money, and for the money. They are both of them wrong! [applause]

My ancestors were bought and sold on the auction block of slavery. I will not be bought and sold on the auction block of our freedom! [applause]

But if we intend to restore real self-government in America, let's be clear that we have, in fact, surrendered it. Through the imposition of the income tax, we have surrendered our economic sovereignty, the control of our money. Through the acceptance of a government-dominated school system, we have surrendered our educational sovereignty; the control of our future. [applause] And through the acceptance of a moral relativism that rejects the most basic premise of our way of life, we have surrendered our personal and individual sovereignty--which is the foundation of our discipline, and our freedom.

We can have and we will have a lot of folks who are going to come up here today--they're going to tell you all about how they want school choice so that parents will be able to make the key decisions that affect the lives of their students and I support school choice. They'll tell you they want to change the tax system, to put more money in the hands of the American people. The real issue, however, isn't just who has the schools, but who controls the schools. It's not just how much the tax cut will be, but who, in the end, controls the money in this country earned by its citizens. And I'll tell you this: right now we live under a tax system where we surrender a preemptive claim to a certain percentage of our income determined by the government. That means that, in principle, they control one-hundred percent of every dollar that's earned in this country. That's why they talk as if all our money belongs to them: because as long as there's an income tax, in principle it does--and we must hang on every debate to find out just how much they'll leave in our pockets.

You aren't getting a little tired of that? Listening . . . [loud applause] . . . Listening to these politicians . . . Listening to these politicians debate how much of your own money they'll leave in your pocket. And then they expect you to go down on your knees (motions as if going down on knees) and thank "massa" government cause he left you a little bit. [applause] That's not just a bad tax system, and it's not even just tax-serfdom--because at least in the days of serfs, they knew that their lords could only take a certain percentage of their income.

We are not tax serfs. We are tax slaves. [applause]

And I will not join the ranks of those who believe that we should argue about whether our chains will be a little heavier, or a little lighter. And I won't join the ranks of those who believe that we should be content if all our chains are of equal weight. I think it's time that we struck off the chains of economic bondage from the hands and from the arms of the American people. [applause] And there is only one way that we shall strike off those chains. I know it won't come as some surprise to some of you. But I'm not a tax-cutter, and I'm not a tax-reformer. I'm an abolitionist, and I bet you're not surprised. [applause]

I think it's time we face the truth. We will not regain control of our income in this country until we return to the original Constitution that our Founders gave us. [applause] Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment, abolish the income tax, and return the original Constitution of our freedom. (long applause)

It is right that we should seek to reclaim that control of our destiny. It is right that through school choice we should seek to reclaim control of our schools. But I wanna tell you, every time we stand forward, we make the best case for all those things. You know we get better schools when we respect the right of parents to make the fundamental decisions with regard to their children's education. (applause begins) You know that we get a better economy when we respect the rights of the people who work and scrimp and save to make the money to spend that money according to their decisions, and their responsibilities. And you know that we have gotten far better results even when we care for one another--even in the business of charity, even in the business of lifting up those who are left behind and in need of help. When you trust to the good hearts and to the decency of the American people they will do a better job than this government has ever done. [applause]

But how do they defeat us? How do they defeat us when we seek to reclaim our liberty? The socialists and liberals defeat us, and, I'm sad to say, tend to drive us back every time--and it's not with an economic argument, and it's not with a material argument, and it's not with an empirical argument. They drive us back every time by telling us, "You can't have control of your retirement earnings, you'll make the wrong decisions." "You can't have control of your schools, you'll make the wrong decisions." "You can't have control of your money, you'll make the wrong decisions." They are telling us that we are a people no longer capable of freedom; that we do not have the capacity, that we do not have the sense of responsibility to make the right decisions; that we are parents who will not care for our children, and children who will not care for the needs of our aging parents; that we are neighbors who will step across the groaning carcasses of our neighbors and never reach out to give them a helping hand.

There are those who think that this is an attack upon Republican or conservative compassion. I'm here to tell you different: they are not attacking anybody's compassion. They are slandering the character of the whole American people. That is not who we are. [applause]

And if we want . . . But you know, we listen to those arguments because today I don't think we have the moral self-confidence that's needed to assert our true claim to rights and responsibility and liberty. We have sacrificed that moral self-confidence on the altar of abortion; on the altar of the agenda of radical sexual irresponsibility; on the altar of those who wish to deny the fundamental truth stated at the beginning of this nation's life: that our rights come from the hands of the Creator, God, and must be respected out of respect for the authority of God. [applause]

We will not win the battle to regain control of our money, and of our schools, and of our future, and of our land, until we have restored our moral allegiance to the sacred moral principles that are the basis of our moral self-confidence and our moral strength. [applause] And that is why I'll tell you, there may be an awful lot of folks here, you may hear it, you may not wanna hear it. You go on sending out spokesmen who are afraid to address, up front and to the point, the moral issues that confront this country, and we will be defeated, and we will deserve that defeat. It is time we stopped reaching for power, and time we stopped reaching for victories, and elections, and time we started reaching for this, and this alone: to restore the moral strength of this nation so we can pass its heritage of liberty to our children. [applause]

It is not for the Republican party and not for a Republican victory that we should strive--but rather to restore those principles and convictions that will lay the solid moral foundation for an American victory. A victory of our character, of our truths, that could inspire the world.

But we won't find that victory if we hesitate in the face of those questions, beginning with the question that confronts us just as slavery did. We will not trust ourselves to hear the cries of the poor until we have once again committed ourselves to that moral truth which requires that we heed the silent claims of all our future generations in the womb. [applause begins] Run from that issue, and you can not claim America's destiny. [applause continues]

So I ask you now, here in Iowa--you all have an important decision, right now, here, to make about this. Tomorrow morning, you all can vote in such a way that the pundits will get up and they'll say, "Well, the Republicans have proven it again. Money is God, God is Money. That's what we worship, and that's what we serve." Or you can cast a vote for the one clear voice that has spoken, year after year, in this party and this country, for the one truth that will save us. Get back to that truth that was in our great Declaration, that God is our God, and we will exercise our right with respect for that truth, with respect for His authority, with respect for the fact that that is the foundation of our strength, and will be the foundation of our renewed self-confidence. [applause]

And if you do . . . If you are willing not to vote for some shadow of victory, not to vote for expediency, not to vote because somebody handed you a T-shirt and fed you a meal . . . [applause begins] . . . this is not the bread and circuses of the Roman Empire, this is the dignity of American self-government. [applause continues] And I invite you now . . . We say that we want leaders who will stand for principle no matter what. Resolve here and now in your vote to be voters who will vote for principle, vote for truth, and stand for the integrity of this nation's conscience, no matter what.

And if--

[dead air; each candidate had only 10 minutes to speak and after that time the mic is automatically shut off--Keyes continues speaking but his voice is not audible]

[loud and long applause as Keyes finishes and waves to the crowd with his family standing next to him on stage]
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