On July 6, 1971, in an address regarding his political agenda on domestic policy in Kansas City, Missouri, President Richard Nixon emphasized his administration’s unwavering dedication to creating healthy citizens, a healthy environment, and a healthy economy for the United States. However, he stressed that his most important goals were to reduce the role of government throughout his term and to infuse the nation with new sense of “moral health.”
President Nixon stated:
“… in this Administration the era of permissiveness in law enforcement has come to an end. We are going to continue to support strong laws dealing with criminal elements; we are going to continue to support law enforcement officials up and down this land; and we are going to continue to have a program that will reduce the rise in crime and eventually reverse it.
Furthermore, the Thirty-Seventh President noted the root of the nation’s crime and drug problems. He pointed out that Americans had developed an attitude of negativism and defeatism, and a sense of alienation and supreme individualism. In this type of society, it is inevitable that younger people will give up and channel their energies in the counterproductive forms of drugs and crime. However, if individuals have “something to live for, if individuals have something to believe in,” then their tendency to forgo their aspirations and ambitions is reduced.
President Nixon also realized that in order for the United States to be competitive during the last quarter of the 20th century, it would need a healthy government structure. He believed that the US government needed “some major surgery.” He believed it was too large and pervasive and that it had “too many useless limbs,” some of which needed to be chopped off. It also needed an infusion of leadership and responsibility at the local and state levels if its role were to improve.
RN urged those in attendance, as well as the rest of the nation, to cease shying away from foreign affairs simply because their vision was obscured by Vietnam. The American people needed to realize that the United States was no longer the sole economic powerhouse that it was in the post-WWII era. Thus, President Nixon sought to keep the United States economically competitive and to maintain its standing as a world leader in the following decades by increasing his administration’s efforts to raise the nation’s wealth and standard of living.
RN knew that the American people were suffering. His administration had aimed its efforts at reducing the massive unemployment rate caused by the release of 1.2 million people out of defense plants and the Armed Forces, while concurrently cooling the “fires of inflation” that ignited from the costs of war. Fearing repercussions in the form of massive future inflation, RN ultimately vetoed a public works bill that may have lent immediate relief to unemployed Americans.
With regards to medical care, RN aspired to make health care available to those who needed it. However, he was adamant that they must handle the problem without “destroying what we also enjoy: the best medical care in the world in terms of quality.”
As for the environment, RN simply stated that those problems were inevitable. Countries that did not have environmental problems created by an industrial society would very much have liked to have had those problems if that meant the cost of raising their standard of living.