In a live radio broadcast to the nation, President Nixon emphasizes the fact that America is more unified than what critics have portrayed. The President spoke at 10:30 a.m. from the Library of the White House. Time for the broadcast was purchased by the Committee for the Re-Election of the President.
A national election campaign can unify the people, or it can divide them.
One of the most encouraging things about this election is the way in which the voters are reacting as a united people, as One America.
Too often in past years, politicians of both parties have made their appeal not to what was good for America, but to the divided and sometimes conflicting interest of various groups and blocs within America.
At times, too, politicians have tried to run campaigns on style and charisma, instead of on the facts and the issues.
This year, the election is being decided on the fundamental issues. Because it is, we are seeing the birth of a new American majority.
It is not a new partisan majority. It is not a realignment of the old political coalitions of different interest groups and blocs.
The new majority is a majority of Americans from all parts of the country who agree on certain fundamental values and principles that are basic to America’s ideals and its experience.
I remember reading once about a sign outside a church in Greenville, South Carolina. Its message was simple. It said: “If God were permissive, he would have given us Ten Suggestions.”
The point, of course, was that at the base of every great faith or idea, there are certain fundamental, abiding truths that must not be destroyed or distorted.
I realize that in this sophisticated age we hear a lot of scoffing at old-fashioned faith, morality, and character. But I also know that the day America loses its moral character, or the day we forget our religious heritage, we will cease to be a great Nation.
For America is more than just a plot of land–it is an ideal. And that ideal is what built 13 tiny, struggling colonies into the freest, mightiest Nation on earth today.
What is the ideal? George Washington once called it “the sacred fire of liberty”-a devotion to freedom and opportunity, a respect for the rights and dignity of the individual.
Almost two centuries later, another great soldier and statesman, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, gave us a remarkably similar definition. “America,” he said, “is best described by one word, freedom.”
Let us never forget that we won that freedom, and we have kept and expanded it over the years, because we have remained a single, united people–One America.
Last month I had the privilege of dedicating a new museum. It was a very special occasion for me, because this was no ordinary museum–it was the American Museum of Immigration on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
There, at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, a museum had been created to commemorate the trials, the tribulations, and the magnificent accomplishments of millions of men and women who came to these shores to build a new life and to become part of a united American people.
Perhaps more than anywhere else, you can feel the meaning of America there on Liberty Island, in the shadow of that great national monument. During the peak years of immigration, as many as 5,000 immigrants entered New York Harbor each day, and the first thing they saw, their first glimpse of America, was that magnificent statue with its torch held high.
The world’s hopes poured into America, along with its people. The people were from every nation on earth. But the hope was always the same–the burning desire for freedom and opportunity, the same hope that motivated the Founding Fathers in 1776, the same hope that has motivated generation after generation of new Americans ever since.
Today there are some who say that that spirit is dead–that we no longer have the strength of character, idealism, and faith we once had.
They say that we have become a sick society, a corrupt society. Some have even gone so far as to compare us with Hitler’s Germany.
Well, those who say these things are wrong.
Those who say these things do not know the real America.
In my 4 years as President, I have visited every State in the Union.
Increasingly, everywhere I have gone I have found new evidence, not of disunity, but of unity. I have found the people of the North, the South, the East, the West, united in their basic concerns and beliefs. I have found hard evidence of something I always believed–that, despite our vast diversity of races, of ethnic origins, and of faiths, when you get down to the basics, we are still One America.
And the basics are the same in every part of the country. They are the same for the Polish-American, the Italian-American, the Mexican-American, the steelworker, the farmer.
I find that most Americans still want a strong country, not out of national vanity or jingoism, but because they know that a strong United States is the guardian of peace and freedom in the world. They reject the philosophy that we should unilaterally weaken America.
I have found that the vast majority of Americans want peace, but are convinced that it must be a lasting peace with honor. They know that only a peace built on honor and integrity can long survive. They know that retreat and surrender lead not to security, but to new provocations and confrontations and to greater risk of war.
That is why, in the difficult job of seeking an honorable negotiated settlement in Vietnam, I have been able to count on the support of a majority of Americans. That is why America has been able to preserve its pledge that we shall not betray our allies, or abandon our men held prisoner or missing in action, as we work for a full generation of peace.
I have found that most Americans everywhere agree that we should hold the line on taxes and spending. The days of the Congressional blank check for spending are gone. The people are tightly demanding an end to the government extravagance that has driven up taxes and prices. They are determined to put the brakes on the cost-of-living treadmill. I am equally determined to hold those brakes and hold them in place. They have supported this Administration’s policies that have now given us the lowest rate of inflation and one of the highest rates of growth of any major industrial nation in the world, policies that are moving us toward our goal of full employment without war and without inflation–and that is a goal that we have not met since President Eisenhower was in the White House.
Most Americans are united in demanding respect for the law. They know that without law there can be no justice, without order there can be no progress. They support this Administration’s all-out offensive against organized crime, against violence, against dangerous drugs and narcotics, and we are beginning to win the war against crime because of the united support of Americans.
We will not be satisfied until all our city streets are safe, until we have a system of courts that is once more capable of dispensing swift, fair justice to criminal and victim alike. That is my philosophy in appointing judges to the bench, from the Supreme Court on down. They must be qualified jurists, but they must be jurists who recognize that the first civil right of all Americans is the right to be free from domestic violence.
The new American majority knows that government ought to spring from the people. It should not be a distant alien force that dictates their everyday lives from afar. For far too long power has flowed from the people into the hands of Federal bureaucrats in Washington. And the new American majority has agreed that the time has come to reverse that flow away from Washington, back to the States, the counties, the cities, and to the people.
And together we have begun to succeed. The historic passage of revenue sharing, which this Administration has fought for for so long, means that more power and more tax dollars are now heading back where they belong, to local people and their locally elected leaders. The decisionmaking power, the means to carry out those decisions, are flowing back to the grass roots. This means better education, better setting of local priorities, more hope for our troubled State, city, and county governments, and an opportunity in the future for lower property taxes for the overburdened American homeowner.
Finally, I find that the American people today are united in their continued belief in honest hard work, love of country, spiritual faith.
What has made America the economic wonder of the world is not what government has done for people, but what people have done for themselves. That is why, while some politicians are calling for redistribution of income–seeking to reward those who do not work more than those who do–this Administration has stood with the new American majority. We know that it was the sacrifice and efforts of hard-working people that built America. We oppose those who would discourage work and reward idleness.
America is a land of opportunity, not a land of handouts. Each of us deserves a fair chance to get ahead. But none of us has the right to expect a free ride–to remain idle, to take advantage of other men’s labor.
Each of these basic points I have mentioned has played a part in creating the new American majority. Each of them reminds us that there is more that binds us together as a people than there is separating us.
My greatest hope for the coming elections is that we emerge from them a stronger, not a weaker, people–that when we look back at the 1972 elections we can point to them as a mandate for peace, for progress, and, above all, unity for Americans.
“This flag which we honor and under which we serve,” said Woodrow Wilson, “is the emblem of the unity of our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation. The choices are ours.”
Once again this November, the choice is ours. And I urge each of you whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent–to become a part of the new American majority, to help us keep on building a strong America, a just America–One America embodying the hopes and faith of all Americans.
Thank you, and good morning.