To compete in the future, the Republican Party simply must perform better with young people, college-educated Americans, immigrants, and urban voters.
I have argued that the way forward is to "modernize, not moderate." This will require a leader who is able to articulate a forward-looking vision that marries conservative first principles with the 21st century.
There is a real opportunity for a rising GOP star — Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, et al. — to corner the market on a new brand. How can they do it? Rubio and Paul Ryan both spoke Tuesday night at the Jack Kemp Foundation Leadership Awards Dinner in D.C. But here's the speech I'd like to hear one of them give sometime soon.
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It's time to lay out a fresh conservative agenda that will marry our first principles with a modern vision for the world. Throughout the course of this campaign, I'll be discussing these ideas with you. You see, the notion that voters don't care about ideas — that you aren't interested in details — is wrong. I reject that kind of thinking.
During the last presidential election in 2012, conservatives did a very poor job explaining why free-market principles are best for all of us. They are the best for the construction worker, the supermarket checkout cashier, the police officer, and the CEO. They can lift men and women out of poverty, and help us all achieve the American Dream of reaching the middle class and building a better life for our families.
Young people need to know that our free-market ideas are the best for them, while liberalism — the ideas of the failed past — stifles creativity.
Let me offer just one small example: A terrific company called Uber. If you haven't used Uber, here's how it works: If you need a ride somewhere, you pull out your smartphone, click the Uber app, and they pick you up. You get a safe, clean car with a professional driver who takes you wherever you need to go — all for a reasonable price.
I use Uber sometimes. It's a smart, well-run business that serves consumers, turns a profit for entrepreneurs, and gainfully employees dozens of people. But there's a problem. Big government regulations.
You see, rather than supporting innovative ideas that use this new technology to better serve the consumer, governments in a lot of towns are more likely to listen to moneyed interests like the taxicab lobby.
Local cab companies could spend their time and money improving their own product — making cabs cleaner and more competitive. Or they could attempt to lobby politicians to pass new legislation and regulations that would effectively shut down companies like Uber.
Guess which option they chose?
My message to young people is this: Conservatism is the philosophy that encourages and fosters innovations like Uber. Liberalism is the philosophy that creates government regulations to prevent you from creating the next big thing. Which future do you want?
There's something else I want to say to the young people of America, and that is we should never stop reaching for the stars. I mean that literally. While I take our ballooning deficits seriously, when I'm president, we will spend money on a robust space program.
We won't sit by timidly and defensively and let history happen to us. No. America will return to space and embrace our passion for science and exploration. Some of my opponents will call this silly or unnecessarily expensive. You can live in their world if you like – a world where American pinches pennies and hopes for the best. Or you can join me in prioritizing America's role as a leader in science, math, and technology. This is your future, your country, and your choice.
This is also your Republican Party.
During the last election, there was a sense that some of you — some of us — weren't welcome in the Party of Lincoln. But you are welcome here. This is your party.
If you're young, and want to start the next Uber, I want you to know this is the party for you.
If you're Hispanic, I want you to know this is your party. It's the party that shares your values about family and faith.
This is the party that believes in rewarding hard work. This is the party that believes immigration is entrepreneurial.
This is the party that believes in more Americans — not less Americans. That's why we're pro-life and pro-immigrant.
You see, our opponents believe we are all fighting for scraps. We're fighting over little pieces of a little pie. And if you get a piece, that means there's less for me. But Republicans reject that philosophy. We're not fighting over a small future. We can grow that pie. There's enough prosperity here for all of us. We need more Americans to help tap into the greatness of this nation.
If you're an immigrant who wants to work hard, go to school, or join the military, then you're exactly the kind of person I want to be a legal and productive member of this society. I want you to be a card-carrying Republican, too!
Speaking of the military, I want to stop and thank all of our veterans for allowing us to preserve our freedom and make this the best nation in the world. Thank you for all you do.
America must remain a shining beacon of hope. And as president, I will do whatever it takes to defend this land — this last, best hope on Earth.
But I want my Republican friends to know that I hate war. Aside from the obvious — the loss of life and the injuries — I don't like how war makes government bigger. I don't like how war separates families. I don't like the divorce rates that come from the separation and stress on a family and a community. That's not conservative. That's not family values.
Our society will always remember and support the men and women who fought for us. As much as I care about the deficit, I don't care what it costs to take care of our veterans. Here's an example: Some of our veterans who suffer from PTSD were provided with a service dog. A lot of veterans I've spoken to tell me this treatment is better than any drug treatment. Unfortunately, the VA has decided there's not enough evidence to prove this treatment works. So they will no longer cover the costs.
There are some terrific charities out there focused on this issue. And frankly, I'd just as soon have them do this as a government bureaucracy. But they can't handle the requests alone. So when I'm president, I want you to know one of my first orders will be to instruct the VA to reverse this decision. Anyone who fights our wars and suffers from that can have a service dog if they want one — as long as I'm president.
This will be a long campaign, and there will be a lot of speeches about the future of this nation and of this party. It's important for veterans to know that if you need help, this is the place for you. We love you when you're fighting for us, and we love you when you come back home, too.
And let me be clear about this, as the Republican Party hasn't always been in years past: If you're a gay American, we love you. We want you to know that this is a party dedicated to helping lift all Americans. You can disagree with us on some issues. That's fine. That's okay. But we love you and we want you to join us. And if anyone says you shouldn't be allowed to visit your partner in a hospital — I will personally show up and give them a piece of my mind. This is a party for all Americans.
This is a party for the unborn. They can't lobby Congress. They can't give speeches. But we love them. It's not always popular, but this is a party that will defend everyone's rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — no matter what it costs.
These aren't new ideas. But this is a new world. Freedom needs to be renewed. This is still a new century. And I'm convinced that America is the last, best hope on Earth — and that conservative values are the last, best hope for America. Thank you, and God bless the USA.
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