Rep. Jack Kemp at the 1976 RNC
Introduction of the Permanent Chairman of the Convention By the Honorable Jack Kemp
Member of Congress, 38th District of New York
The Temporary Chairman – To introduce the Permanent Chairman of the Thirty-First Republican National Convention, we will hear from yet another distinguished Republican Congressman, a man whose success on the football field has been more than equaled in his success in the Halls of Congress. An outstanding advocate of the free enterprise system for working men and working women everywhere. From the 38th Congressional District of New York, the Honorable Jack Kemp.
Mr. Kemp – The Republican Party must move from the defense to the offense. The time is now and the place is here.
We are convened to chart a course for our party and one for the nation and its future.
Yes, we are here to nominate our party’s candidate for President. Yes, we are here to adopt a program to put the Republican Party back in control of the Congress. But the issue in 1976 is not who we are against; it is who we are for.
If we are going to make anything of these few days together, we have to do more than just criticize the Democrats and their platform. We have to realize that we can no longer make political careers out of just opposing what the Democrats are for. We have to put forward a vision and a program of our own.
The first thing that you learn in competition is that you have to believe in yourself. You must believe that you can win before you can win. And if we don’t think we can, we will surely lose.
This ought to be our year. It can be our year. It must be our year. (Applause.)
There is time to turn this nation of voters towards our party and our ideas. For far too long some have thought that we could win elections by obscuring the differences between our party and the other. It hasn’t worked. It is time to sharpen the differences.
History turns on ideas. Ideas rule the world. And the Republican Party has the principles and the ideas that the great body of American people embraces. We must translate them into a plan of action that both inspires people and wins elections.
For nearly fifty years the Democrat Party has ridden the political success story on the horse called “Spending.” More government spending and huge deficits are the ways of the Democrats, the ways they have tried to satisfy and bring divergent groups of people under one political umbrella.
It has been a successful political formula, one which captured the Congress forty out of the past forty-four years. While it might have been good politics, it has been disastrous economics and is threatening individual freedom in America today. For government spending must be paid for, and the financing of its enormous growth now consumes over forty-five percent of our national income.
In short, the government’s share of the people’s income is strangling the ability of private enterprise to increase incomes, jobs and prosperity for all Americans.
Trying to spend our rate of prosperity carries the seeds of its own destruction – the double-digit inflation, and nearly double-digit unemployment.
The Democrat Congress must be held accountable –not this Administration or the Republicans in the Congress of the United States.
The American people need to know this because they are being crushed under the burden. They need to know that not a dollar is spent, not a regulation becomes law, not a program begins in this country without the approval of the Democrat Congress. And this is the battleground today.
It is time to get government off of the people’s backs and their hands out of the people’s pockets.
Let the Democrats continue to be the party of big spending and more taxes. We must be the party of less spending and less taxes. (Applause.)
Let the Democrats continue to be the party of more government jobs. We must be the party of private enterprise jobs. (Applause.) Let the Democrats continue to be the party of inflation. We must be the party of the sound dollar.
The best and surest way to reduce the size of the government today is to increase and expand private enterprise in America. And the best and surest way to expand enterprise is to reduce the tax barriers to its growth. This is the cutting edge of our ideas to reduce the burdens of government.
And I believe that we must let the Democrats propose spending another $2 billion of the people’s money if they want. We say that if there is that much money available, why should government spend it? We want to return it to the people in the form of tax cuts. When the Democrats propose spending money, we should propose giving it back to the people.
Whatever our differences, we are united as a party in the belief that the American people are being crushed by the burden of taxation and excessive regulation, and it is our job, it is our cause to do something about it for all the working Americans and their families across the land.
1976 is the year of accountability. The leadership of Congress needs to be changed, and there is only one way to do it, ladies and gentlemen, and that is to elect a Republican Congress.
You need to help elect Congressional candidates across this country. By electing them, we can have a new speaker, we can have new leadership. We can have a Congress truly representative of the values, the goals and the needs of the American people.
There is only one way to reform Washington, and that is to reform Congress. (Applause.)
I want you to pledge tonight to work for Republicans, to work for a Republican Congress, led by a great Representative from the State of Arizona, a leader who puts integrity ahead of expediency and the country ahead of politics.
Let’s stand together and vow to work for a Congress with a new vision for America, with a new Speaker for the Congress, by helping elect the honorable John Rhodes, Speaker of the next Congress of the United States. (Applause.)