deeply humbled to deliver the Krieble Lecture at the Heritage
Foundation's Resource Bank meeting today. Robert Krieble's dogged
advancement of the principles of freedom in the Soviet Union sowed
the seeds that felled that wall and I am honored to speak in his
Picture, if you will, a ship at sea.
Shoulders back, a proud captain steps onto the sunlit deck of a
tall ship plying the open seas of a simpler time. Its sails are
full and straining in the wind. Its crew is tried and true; its
hull, mast, and keel are strong. But beneath the waves--almost
imperceptibly--the rudder has veered off course and, in time, the
captain and crew will face unexpected peril.
conservative movement today is like that tall ship with its proud
captain; strong, accomplished, but veering off course into the
dangerous and uncharted waters of big government republicanism.
make this assertion quite aware that I do so before so many who
have done so much for the cause of conservative values.
The Conservative Vision
this Resource Bank meeting comes to a close and we reflect on
battles past and future, the words of a young King David--standing
in the Valley of Elam just moments before facing Goliath--seem
appropriate, "Without a vision the people perish." And he asked his
countrymen, "Is there not a cause?"
Conservatives like those gathered here
never suffer that question.
Conservatives have the vision.
Conservatives know the cause--to "establish justice, ensure
domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves
and our posterity."
the standards of these fundamental objectives of the republic,
American conservatives can take considerable pride in the past
three years. The ship of conservative Republican government in
Washington is strong. Our movement is strong.
the promotion of national security, economic prosperity, and the
sanctity of human life, conservatives made measurable gains in
2003. Under the leadership of President George W. Bush and a
Republican Congress, we have provided for the common defense--which
the Federalist reminds us is the first and most fundamental
objective of all.
The Common Defense
was a nation under attack on September 11, 2001. I stood beneath a
sky filled with mud brown smoke; people were running in every
direction. F-16s were going supersonic at treetop level to
intercept an inbound menace over Pennsylvania. In the midst of the
chaos of that time, George W. Bush stood with his arm draped over
the shoulder of a bone-weary fireman, speaking courage through a
bullhorn to a listening nation.
saw those words matched by deeds of equal valor. These are the
deeds that ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan and have now defeated
and captured the butcher of Baghdad. As I stood six weeks
ago--amidst the opulence of the palace of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad
(now the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority in
Iraq)--I thought of that verse in Psalm 49, "They may name their
estates after themselves, but they leave their wealth to
others...this is the fate of fools."
was a fate brought about by the leadership of George W. Bush. These
are the deeds that have yielded a safer America and a safer world,
visible to all but an angry, frustrated few who remain stubbornly
and willfully blind.
Through it all, Republicans in Congress
and conservatives throughout the land have stood steadfastly behind
our President--whose personal courage and bold leadership have made
our families measurably safer.
provide for the common defense at home. And to project power in the
national interest abroad. Conservatives were the margin in the
disputed 2000 election. Because of conservatism, America is
defending freedom at home and abroad.
The General Welfare
the same time, we have promoted the general welfare with the only
means that ever works--the means that unleashes the enterprise and
initiative of the American taxpayer. Under the leadership of
President Bush and the Republican Congress, two successive tax cuts
have provided the largest tax relief since the days of Ronald
as they began to do in 1983, the positive results are now pouring
in with each day's economic news. Americans are going back to work.
Businesses are expanding and this President's determination to act
on his conservative Republican principles is the reason for our
Additionally, 31 years after Roe v. Wade,
we can finally celebrate progress in securing the unalienable right
to life for millions of unborn Americans. Thanks to the unselfish,
unflagging efforts of conservatives who have devoted themselves to
being the voice for the voiceless, we can now point to the first
major legislative victory since the legalization of abortion in
1973. A Republican Congress passed a ban of "partial-birth
abortion" and this Republican President signed it into law.
despite these enormous conservative achievements, there are
troubling signs that the ship of conservative governance is off
While Ronald Reagan said famously,
"Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the
problem," many Republicans--even many who call themselves
conservatives--see government increasingly as the solution to every
social ill. Let us be clear on this point: This is a historic
departure from the limited-government traditions of our party and
millions of its most ardent supporters.
shift to faith in government is especially clear to me. Not because
I am a Congressman, but because not long ago (as I watched the
children's animated movie "Ice Age" with my kids) I realized--I am
the frozen man. You remember the frozen man. He was born in a
simpler time, slips into the snow, and thaws out years later in a
more sophisticated age.
first ran for Congress in 1988. An entrenched Democratic majority
controlled Congress, frustrating President Reagan at every turn. A
band of heroic House conservatives were challenging Speaker Jim
Wright and welfare-state politics. A balanced federal budget was as
much a fantasy as a Republican majority in Congress. But some of us
believed. We believed we could reduce the size and scope of
government and halt the slow march to socialism embodied in the
welfare-state politics of the left.
lost my bid in 1988 and again in 1990. There's a saying in
politics: "When you're out, you're out!" Well, I was out for 10
I was finally elected to Congress in 2000, I was like the frozen
man--frozen before the revolution, thawed out after it was over, a
Minuteman who showed up 10 years late!
decade ago, when I first ran for Congress, Republicans dreamed of
eliminating the federal Department of Education and returning
control of our schools to parents, communities, and states. Ten
years later (all thawed out), I took my oath of office in the 107th
Congress to join the revolution and they hand me a copy of H.R. 1.
One--as in our Republican Congress's number one priority: the "No
Child Left Behind Act." The largest expansion of the federal
Department of Education since it was created by President Jimmy
the end, about 30 House conservatives and I fought against the bill
and were soundly defeated by our own colleagues. Our Reaganite
belief that education was a local function was labeled "far right"
by Republicans and the President signed the bill into law with a
smiling Ted Kennedy at his side.
Conservatives were told to bear up: This
was the exception, not the rule.
so, relieved to have that experience behind me, I anxiously awaited
a new H.R. 1 for a new Congress--an H.R. 1 that I could be proud
of. At the onset of the 108th Congress, I was handed another H.R.
1: the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, the largest new entitlement
the frozen man it was obvious. Another Congress. Another H.R.1.
Another example of the ship of our movement veering off course.
Actually, this bill started out promising.
The President asked Congress for a very limited program: extending
existing welfare benefits to seniors just above the poverty
level--where most of the one-in-four seniors without prescription
drug coverage reside.
conservatives, myself included, were prepared to support this
limited benefit. I told the President that we shouldn't make
seniors choose between food, rent, and prescription drugs. We were
a better country than that.
instead of giving the President the limited benefit he requested,
Congress set sail to create the largest new entitlement since
1965--a massive one-size-fits-all entitlement that would place
trillions in obligations on our children and grandchildren without
giving any thought about how to pay for it.
Conservatives in the House were faced with
a difficult choice: Oppose the President we love or support the
expansion of the big government we hate.
the end--with the stalwart support of the Heritage Foundation and
its courageous president--25 rebels decided to make a stand for the
principle of limited government.
is said, "In fire gold is tested," and so it is. While much has
been made of the pressure that my colleagues and I endured, we also
witnessed the unprecedented pressure placed on the Heritage
Foundation and its president to conform to the majority's will.
Instead of capitulating, Ed Feulner, Stuart Butler, and the
Heritage Foundation confirmed the confidence of tens of thousands
of their supporters over the decades by standing firm.
all the votes were counted, we were one rebel short. In the end the
bill passed. The welfare state expanded. And the ship of
conservative government veered off course.
Taking a Stand
However, as recent developments suggest, I
will always believe that the stand we took mattered. Even in
defeat. Sometimes a small group of people can take a stand, be
defeated, and still make a difference.
1836, less than 200 men fought against thousands of Mexican forces
to defend an ancient Christian mission on the plains of Texas.
Though they died to the last man, the Texas volunteers within those
missionary walls exacted such a horrific toll on the army of Santa
Anna that Colonel Juan Almonte privately noted, "One more such
glorious victory and we are finished."
so they were. The inspiration of the men who made their stand at
the Alamo fueled the victory that Sam Houston would lead just six
more such glorious victory and we are finished."
- One more big-government education
- One more new government entitlement.
- One more compromise of who we are as
limited government Republicans--and our majority could be
then is the state of the movement? It is strong on the advance, but
veering off course from our commitment to limited government.
time has come for conservatives to retake the helm of this movement
and renew our commitment to fiscal discipline and to what we know
to be true about the nature of government:
- Conservatives know that government that
governs least governs best.
- Conservatives know that as government
expands, freedom contracts.
- Conservatives know that government should
never do for a man what he can and should do for himself.
think of these timeless principles, I think of Ronald Reagan. I met
President Reagan in the summer of 1988. I was a 29-year-old
candidate for Congress and he was winding down a presidency that
changed the world. It was a candidate photo-op in the Blue Room of
the White House. I was determined to say something of meaning to
the great man.
After we exchanged pleasantries, I told
him I was grateful for everything he had done for the country and
everything he had done to inspire my generation to believe in
America again. He seemed surprised. His cheeks appeared to redden
with embarrassment and he said, "Well, Mike, that's a very nice
thing of you to say."
Moments later, he took a minute to respond
to the accolades that I and others offered with characteristic
humility and optimism saying: "Many of you have thanked me for what
I did for America but I want you to know I don't think I did
anything. The American people decided it was time to right the ship
and I was just the captain they put on the bridge when they did
said in January of this year in my address to CPAC (the
Conservative Political Action Conference), it's time for
conservative Americans to do what Reagan did. It's time for
conservative Americans to right the ship again. It is time to
celebrate our great Republican President and Congress as they lead
our nation's progress in national security, economic prosperity,
and the value of human life.
it is also time to see her listing to port--in the direction of big
government--and set her right again. Know that this is not a sign
of disloyalty, but of true loyalty to principle. When a ship is
approaching a rocky coast, the life of the ship and its crew
depends on the navigator (with his sextant) to counsel the captain
and crew to steer clear of the shoals and--if need be--to
forcefully oppose the captain when the fate of the ship hangs in
the months since I first delivered this challenge,
conservatives--including many in this room--have done just that.
They have done that in newsprint, on talk radio, and cable news.
Conservatives have spoken with integrity and courage to our leaders
in Washington about the error of our present heading.
the ship is turning.
A Course Correction
Since that day in November when I, and a
great many others, spoke words of admonition to our President and
the leaders in Congress, there is evidence that a course correction
just the past few months, this President has asked Congress to
ensure sustained economic growth by making his tax cuts permanent.
He has called for restraints on federal spending and produced a
budget that holds the growth of the discretionary federal
government to less than 1 percent. He has made it clear that he
would veto the upcoming highway bill if it raises taxes or busts
After weeks of confusion from
Massachusetts to California, this President has brought moral
clarity to the debate over same-sex marriage by calling on Congress
to pass a Constitutional Amendment to protect marriage. The
President rightly called marriage "the most enduring human
institution," and so it is. Marriage was ordained by God, confirmed
by law, is the glue of the American family, and is the safest
harbor for children.
This, then, is our cause: to stand with
our captain as he leads us well, to right the ship when she is
adrift, and to support every effort to set her right.
Robert Krieble knew, this cause will prevail. Our labors for
liberty are never in vain. The cause of freedom is not our cause,
but--as a young King David knew--the cause is His: the author and
finisher of our faith and our freedom.
is written: "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free." I
believe, with all my heart, that He who set this miracle of
democracy on these wilderness shores will see the cause of freedom
through every tomorrow until--by His grace--the veil of tyranny is
lifted from every corner of planet Earth.
Thank you for the honor of addressing you
and thank you for all you do to keep the cause of conservative
values alive in this shining city on the hill, this last best hope
of earth--these United States of America.
The Honorable Mike Pence (R-IN) presented the
annual Krieble Lecture at the 27th annual meeting of The Heritage
Foundation's Resource Bank in Chicago, Illinois.
About Robert H. Krieble
Robert Krieble made his first major mark
on the world back in the 1950s, in the improbable realm of nuts and
bolts. The problem was as elementary as it was vexing: When you
fasten mechanical parts together with nuts and bolts, how do you
keep them from working loose and falling apart?
was a mechanical engineer's problem, but Bob envisioned a chemical
engineer's solution. He and his father, working together in a
business that began with six customers and sales of $300 a month,
perfected a bonding compound. They called it Loctite, a name coined
by Bob's wife, Nancy, who later served as an Honorary Trustee of
The Heritage Foundation. One drop would permanently wed nut to
bolt. Bob and his father began producing the compound and selling
it to industries that built everything from dishwashers to farm
tractors. Their company, the Loctite Corporation, grew into a
Fortune 500 giant.
Having caused a quiet revolution in the
business world, Bob turned his mind to politics and the
consequences of another revolution: the communist revolution that
spawned the hideous specter of the Soviet Union. While American
politicians were fashioning policies on the assumption that the
Soviet Union was a permanent fixture on the planet, Bob thought
otherwise. He was convinced that so craven a system could be undone
by better people with better ideas.
Never knowing a problem he wouldn't
attack, Bob set to work nurturing the internal strengths that lay
buried alive under the Kremlin's rule. He began smuggling computers
and fax machines to Soviet citizens. Making more than 50 trips
himself, he organized field teams that went behind the Iron Curtain
to live among the Soviet people and spread the subversive doctrines
of freedom and democracy. The KGB warned President Gorbachev about
these subversives, but he ignored the warning and thus invited the
coup that toppled his regime.
produced the first political commercials ever run on Ukrainian
television. They promoted Ukrainian independence. And when 89
percent of the voters agreed with that message, their democratic
will drove the last nail into the Soviet coffin.
his every success, Bob Krieble was a model and an inspiration for
conservatives. He showed us that seemingly impossible dreams can be
achieved if only we form an intelligent plan and pursue it with an
attitude that knows no defeat.
many conservatives lose hope. They doubt that the liberal welfare
state can be brought to collapse and that America can be set
squarely on its original foundations. They doubt that future
generations will enjoy the freedom and liberty we have fought so
hard to preserve. In short, they doubt that the Heritage
Foundation's vision for America can be achieved.
only acceptable response to them is the one Bob Krieble gave to
every naysayer who doubted him, to every obstacle that ever stood
between him and his vision of great things that could be and ought
to be: Yes, we can.