Iowa Straw Poll
August 14, 1999
[Editor's note: Forbes' supporters greeted his entrance with a massive blowing of air horns (despite an earlier request by master of ceremonies Kayne Robinson that they not be used). The deafening chorus sounded much like the buzzing of an angry swarm of bees and left some in the audience shaking their heads. Fireworks from behind the stage went off and there was a balloon drop. The welcome backfired, however, as the first four or so minutes of Forbes' speech were severely disrupted by Buchanan forces popping the balloons from the balloon drop, perhaps in retaliation for the lingering ringing in their ears].
Thank you very much Kayne. Thank all of you. And I want to thank Iowa for opening up your hearts, your homes and your communities to me and my family this past summer.
I had the opportunity [pause, balloons continue popping], I had the opportunity to not only visit 77 counties this summer, but in visiting those counties, in visiting those communities, in visiting the people of Iowa I sensed here what we all sense around America and that is: America today is on the cusp of one of the most fantastic and fabulous eras in human history. Never before has a nation ever occupied the position that America does today. We have the opportunity to see a world where our values of democracy, freedom, individual equality before the law and opportunity for all can flourish as never before. We are the only superpower in the world. We're entering an era of spiritual and moral renewal in America. And we're entering an economic era that promises vast new panoramas of possibilities.
Just look for a moment at high technology. Whole new worlds are literally being etched on grains of sand, silicon. And those who question the purpose of prosperity don't grasp that in a free society, prosperity is created by people serving the wants, needs and aspirations of others. From prosperity we can realize the American dream, which is allowing each of us and all of us the chance to discover and develop to the fullest our God-given talents. Anything that stands in the way of the dream we must fight, and anything that enhances the dream we must support.
But there is a dazzling era in front of us. But there is a mortal threat to this era of spiritual and economic renewal and that is the politics as usual of Washington, DC. [cheers]. There in Washington, powerful, isolated, self-serving elites are feasting more and more on the fruits of your labor. These elites are made up of lobbyists, special interests and lifetime politicians who stay in office not to move forward high principle, but simply to enjoy the perks of office.
My friends the power of these Washington elites won't be tamed, bent or broken by a candidate who relies on pollsters and tutors to tell him what he thinks. [cheers]. Only an independent outsider can break the selfish grip of the Washington elites on our national life. [cheers]. My friends, I won't be beholden to the Washington elites, and with your help we will break their hold on our national life. I will--[cheers].
Together we can redeem our national life. I will serve the American people and the American nation, not the Washington special interests. And to guide us as we move forward in this essential task, we need only look to the founding document of this republic, the Declaration of Independence for those immortal words penned by Thomas Jefferson: "That we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Now the issue of life is one of the most emotional and heartfelt in America. Like you I am pro-life and believe in the life amendment. [cheers]. But many in America don't share our goal. But that doesn't mean we put our principles aside. The highest form of statesmanship is to find ways to bring people towards our goal. And I believe that if we move forward with persistence and patience, engaging in a dialogue, we can change the hearts and minds of the American people. And I believe that if we do persist the time will come, I have faith that the time will come, when once again life will be held sacred in our hearts, in our homes, in our Congress, in our courts and yes in our Constitution. [cheers].
Then liberty. How do we give liberty new meaning in these extraordinary times? Well, liberty should include the freedom of parents to choose schools that work for their children. [cheers]. Liberty should mean freedom for teachers to teach as they know best without bureaucratic regulations or fear of lawsuits, and then we will have the best schools in the world. [cheers].
Liberty too should include the freedom for patients, for all of you, to be able to choose your own doctors that you trust, specialists that you need and health care plans that meet your needs at an affordable cost. We should settle for nothing less in health care. [cheers].
Liberty too should include the freedom for young people to invest their Social Security taxes that will give them a safe and secure retirement when they retire in the century, in next millennium. [cheers]. After all we can preserve Social Security for those who are on it, but we can bring in a new system where three-fourths of your Social Security taxes can go to your own personal individual retirement accounts.
Take it out of the hands of the Washington politicians and return it to we the people. [cheers]. That way you help most those with the least. A couple making $30,000, by the time they retire will have over one half million dollars. Real nest eggs for the American people.
And liberty too should mean that we should be safe and secure in this world. And that means we have to stop running down our military and build it up again to be an institution that is the pride again of America. [cheers].
And liberty should include the freedom for farmers to be free from the mistaken policies of Washington, DC where the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates and squeezing money and depressing commodity prices, where we're not busting open foreign markets and as a matter of fact where we're harming our existing export customers with crazy policies such as higher taxes and devaluations.
My friends, the Forbes campaign is one campaign, more than any other, that has put forth specific proposals to make these things happen. And remember too, remember too, if a candidate won't tell you where he stands, that means he either doesn't know where he stands or he doesn't want you to know where he stands and either one is not good for you or the American people. [cheers].
In talking about specifics, in talking about specifics, the biggest barrier to the pursuit of happiness today, you know what it is: The Internal Revenue Service. And only in Washington would they call an agency like that a service. We should take this tax code, which is now 5,000 times the length of our Constitution, and do what they used to do in Hollywood monster movies. And that is kill it, drive a stake through its heart, bury it and hope it never rises again to terrorize the American people. [cheers]. Get rid of it. We should replace it with a simple, flat tax.
In Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln talked about a new birth of freedom. To experience a new birth today let's send the Washington elites a message that their days are numbered. Let's send them a message that the time will come on January 20th 2001 when Washington will once and for all be a government of the people, by the people for the people. Thank you very much and God bless you. [cheers].