8.01.2004

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

There is a growing trend in the country right now, a shift in the power structure back to the people. This is evident in everything from American Idol, to Howard Dean's surge, to the very fact that I am blogging right now. I think we are seeing just the very beginning of this trend right now.

Thinking two years from now, I believe that political campaigns all over the country are going to have to focus very closely on giving power back to the individual - not just in campaign tactics, in putting up a blog, or relying heavily on grassroots - but in message as well. 2006, much like 1994, is going to be the year people stand up and take the country back.

A speech Darrell Issa gave in 1998, the announcement for his candidacy for US Senate, I think will be a model copied by many. It's not uncommon for candidates to talk about localizing power in people, not the government - but it usually ends with that. I believe that 2006 will be a big year for populism.

Issa's speech, crafted by able wordsmith Matt Cunningham will be heard over and over, throughout the country.
Take a look:
DARRELL ISSA FOR U.S. SENATE (1997-98)Candidacy announcement speech, February 7, 1998

I TRUST THE INDIVIDUAL, NOT THE GOVERNMENT
By Darrell Issa

Good morning, my name is Darrell Issa and I am going to send Barbara Boxer back to San Francisco where she belongs!
For nearly a year, I have traveled across California, listening to the concerns of everyday Californians and speaking with them about my vision for America.

At virtually every stop, sooner or later someone asks more or less the same question: Why are you doing this? You've achieved great success in your life. Running for office is such a grueling and unforgiving business. Why put yourself through this?

The best way to answer that question is to tell you about my life.

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the second of six children.

My father worked two full-time jobs and my mother was a homemaker.

We were a family of modest means who didn't lay claim to much in the way of material possessions. My parents earned enough to keep a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food on the table.

But more important than fancy clothes and other frills, my parents gave us the durable and dependable values we needed for life. Hard work, honesty, perseverance, and faith in God. They were the cornerstones of my upbringing.

Looking back, it is clear how fortunate I am to have grown up that way, because I learned the important things in life have little to do with wealth, and everything to do with faith and family.

I enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War. I was seventeen years old, and wanted to follow the example of my father and uncles who had served in World War II. They had done their duty, and I was following in their footsteps.

The Army taught me discipline, respect for tradition and even deepened my love of country. Before too long, the Army offered me an ROTC scholarship that put a college degree in my hand and second lieutenant bars on my shoulders.

The values I learned from my family and from military service enabled me to build a successful life. They are the same values that built America into the greatest nation on Earth. Unfortunately, they are tragically absent from the governing culture of Washington.

I left the Army in 1980, and Kathy and I started our electronics business with our life savings of $7,000. When we first started Directed Electronics, our budget was pretty tight... zero to be exact.

But through hard work -- especially the hard work of our employees -- together we built DEI into America's largest manufacturer of automobile security systems.

And I tell that story not to show how smart I am. Heck, I'm not even the smartest person in my household.

I tell you that story because it is a testament to the greatness of America.

Only in America could someone born poor in Cleveland have the opportunity to own a successful business. Only in America could the son of a truck salesman become a U.S. Senator. Because in America a person's only limit is the size of his dreams.

In 1994, we the people sent a message to the political elite in Washington DC. We told them we would no longer stand for a bloated, arrogant federal government that over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-spent.

Those who ran our government had cut themselves adrift from the moral anchors which guide the rest of America -- common sense, hard work, honesty, equal treatment for all, and an abiding faith in God.

In short, in 1994 we acted to take back our government from those who distrusted and looked down upon us.

Yet, things haven't turned out the way we had hoped.

It seems to me that somewhere along the line, too many of the revolutionaries of 1994 became the elitists of 1998.

We elected the Republican Congress to reduce the size of government and simplify the tax code. Instead, Republican leaders made a deal with the President on a budget that added 800 new amendments, and 290 new sections to our over-complicated tax code, and increased spending beyond what even Bill Clinton asked for.

We asked for term limits to put an end to the careerism that has corrupted Congress. Yet, they still haven't kept that promise.

The Republican Congress has scored some solid achievements...but too much is left undone.

It is not enough for Congress to simply be Republican. It must also act Republican.

We must act quickly to change the course of our nation, or else the opportunities I had as a boy growing up in Cleveland will slip away from future generations.

Let me say this: If you entrust me with the honor of being your Senator, I will work to fundamentally change the way we govern our country, by tipping the balance of power back to the you, the people.

Modern politics has become a hothouse for double-talk, and my opponents are no exceptions. They talk around the issues instead of telling you where they stand.

As for me, you will always know where I stand because my beliefs flow from five fundamental principles:

The government is too big.

Taxes are too high.

Criminals must be punished so that the law-abiding will be safe.

For America to remain free, she must remain strong.

And finally, I trust you the individual, not the government.

Five simple principles that set me apart from the liberal extremism of Barbara Boxer.

Let me talk about these principles.

First, the federal government is too big.

Fifty years ago, the federal government consumed 12 percent of the nation's economy. Now it consumes more than 20 percent.

Despite Republican control of Congress, government spending continues to rise. For the sake of liberty, it is imperative that we halt and reverse this trend.

Let us start with small government agencies and programs. Let’s sell off the Tennessee Valley Authority and eliminate the Rural Electrification and Telecommunications programs.

Because if we cannot do away with such clearly obsolete programs, how can we expect the American people to believe our commitment to smaller government?

Finding such agencies and programs to eliminate isn't difficult. The difficulty is finding leaders with the political will and independence to say "no" to special interests.

Second, taxes are too high.

My friends, the IRS doesn't work for the American people. We can't make it better, we can't reform it. What we can do is abolish it.

When the income tax was established in 1913, the tax code was only 16 pages long. Today it is 3,000 pages long, plus another 42,000 pages of regulations and rulings to explain it.

When we abolish the IRS, I'll make sure we throw that entire obstacle to job creation and individual achievement out with it.

More than just simplifying the way in which government taxes, we must reduce how much government taxes us.

At a certain point, taxation more closely resembles involuntary servitude than the price a free people pays for necessary government. We have passed that point.

The average American family with two working parents surrenders nearly 40 percent of its income to the government. The average Californian works nearly three hours a day, five days a week, just to pay for the cost of government.

Barbara Boxer has done her part to increase that burden by voting for more than $600 billion in higher taxes, including being the deciding vote for the largest tax increase in American history.

Third, violent criminals need to be punished.

An American statesman once said, "Security from violence, no less than foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government."

The rising crime of the last few decades eroded American's trust in their justice system. Let's restore that trust by locking up violent criminals for a long, long time. I supported three strikes, but I've come to the conclusion that for some criminals, three strikes is two strikes too many. I would advocate one-strike and you're out for drug smugglers and those who sell drugs near our schools.

And I would nominate judges who will enforce the death penalty, and will respect the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box.

The judges I nominate will render their decisions in accordance with the Constitution, instead of using it as camouflage for their personal political agendas.

Fourth, America must remain the preeminent power on Earth.

Defending our nation is the most basic trust of the federal government. Our military must meet the challenges of a changing world, yet it has been allowed to decline into a perilous state of unreadiness, with the cheerful acquiescence of Barbara Boxer.

I served in Jimmy Carter's Hollow Army. I will never again let that happen to America's armed forces.

As Senator, I will fight to increase the budget for manpower, training and salaries for our fighting men and women. I will fight to ensure that America's armed forces are without question the best equipped and best trained in the world-- and certain to defeat any enemy.

Foreign tyrants like Saddam Hussein make readiness as necessary now as it was during the Cold War. Diplomacy is a game Saddam plays to buy time.

Force is the only thing he understands.

We need a new policy towards Iraq.

We should use whatever means necessary -- including the full force of American military power - to force Saddam Hussein from power, and replace him with a government that respects the rights of its citizens, and the territory of its neighbors.

At the same time, we must avoid open-ended military commitments that do not clearly serve the national interest. I am talking about Bosnia. Certainly, we must support our soldiers on the ground in pursuit of their mission.

But what is their mission? President Clinton can't seem to say. And he has reneged on his promise to limit our deployment there to one year. He now says our soldiers will be there indefinitely.

The American military exists to defend America's interests, and our interests are not at stake in Bosnia. President Clinton should bring our boys home from Bosnia now!

Finally, I trust the individual to do the right thing. Such trust is essential to self-government.

Too many people in Washington, D.C. like Barbara Boxer, genuinely believe the federal government can and should make decisions about how 260 million Americans live their lives!

But the role of the federal government is not to run our lives. It is to protect our freedom. It is about protecting the law-abiding from the law-breakers. It is about helping those who need it most...the poor, the aged, and yes, the unborn.

Yesterday Ronald Reagan turned 87. He once gave the following advice on preserving liberty. He said, "You ought to weigh everything that's proposed by government against the loss of a personal freedom."

I don't believe that consideration has ever entered Barbara Boxer's mind. But I can assure you it is a question I will ask myself every time I cast a vote in the U.S. Senate.

It marks the great divide between Barbara Boxer and myself: "I trust the individual and the government doesn't and that's the whole problem."

Our great nation is at a crossroads in history. One road leads to increased government and decreased opportunity...we must never travel that road again.

The other road leads to an American Renaissance of individual opportunity and security. One where people are allowed the opportunity to succeed without government interference, where violent criminals are locked up and parents can rest a little easier knowing their neighborhood is safe.

An America where opportunity is there for everyone regardless of your color, your gender, or where you came from. Where success is the result of individual talent, energy and dedication.

My friends, I want to help lead our nation along that higher road.

I have achieved much in my life because I was willing to work hard for it.

I want to be your U.S. Senator, and I will bring to that endeavor the same dedication to service, excellence and hard work which I brought to military service, and then to building my company.

My opponents are looking for a better job. I am looking for a better America.

The values I have expressed and the principles I have announced today are not new. They have been said many times by people much more eloquent than myself.

But in order for our Republic to remain vital, each generation needs to re-commit itself to the American experiment in self-government. At the same time, we must renew our faith in the Divine Providence that ever watches over the destiny of our blessed land.

The prophet Joel once told his people, "Your old men will dream dreams and your young have visions."

I want an America where parents and grandparents see their dreams come true, and where young people have visions of unlimited horizons.

This campaign is not about me. I am a messenger.... an emissary. This campaign is about every American, whether your family came over on the Mayflower, or whether you just became a citizen. It is about everyone who aspires to a better future for their sons and daughters.

For if we care about the kind of lives our children will lead, we must concern ourselves with the kind of country we leave them.

Together…we will build a stronger America... for our children and grand children.

Thank you and God Bless America.

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