The following is text of an excerpt of a speech delivered at the Wetumpka Civic Center in Alabama in October 14, 2013, which first aired on November 9, and was replayed on November 11 and November 17.
It’s great to be in a room so full of patriots.
We’re here at a crucial time in American history.
Because the truth is that we are in the fight of our lives. America today is weaker than it has ever been. And as a result, the world is a much more dangerous place.
Individualism, patriotism and liberty- the unique properties of American life and culture- are at diminished levels. For the first time any of us can remember, America appears to be becoming irrelevant in world affairs.
But this is America. It’s time to stop the pity parties and start the power parties. It’s time to fight back. It’s time to save America. It’s time to believe in breakthroughs, and turnarounds, and miracles.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to change the world. One heart at a time. I want to change history. I want to leave a lasting legacy. I want to keep America number one. I want to see an American renaissance. But I can’t do it myself. I need your help to do it.
This is still the country people cross-oceans to get to. Still the place that sees people empty their life savings to be a part of. Still the nation that has people sell the shirt on their back just to feel the American winds of freedom and opportunity. Still the country of the dreamer.
America: the great. America: the beautiful.
Some people are born burning for America. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of them. I was the same way.
God planted a dream in my heart to minister to Americans. To be a modern-day Paul Revere, another Alexis de Tocqueville- to warn Americans about the perils of the future, and to explain to Americans what makes them exceptional.
And for the last four years over a dozen trips, traveling from the other side of the world, I have miraculously carried out what I believe I was put on earth to do. And with God’s hand firmly on my American ministry and our righteous cause, we have achieved beyond all expectations. Done things that no one thought possible.
But in America, anything is possible.
I must tell you: my American credentials were solid, from the start.
The first word I ever uttered, my mother tells me, was “Coke”, as in Coca-Cola, that iconic American brand. That was my first word- they’ve had some trouble shutting me up ever since!
At the age of eight, I told my parents, and anyone that would listen, that I was going to go to America and speak to people. They thought I was nuts.
By the time I reached ten, I had revised my future plans and boldly declared: “I’m going to go to America and become famous.” They still thought I was nuts.
But I couldn’t help it.
I was captive to America somehow. Excited by its flair. Attracted by its opportunity. Inspired by its story. Captured by its hope.
I’m often asked to explain my love for America. And it’s something I struggled being able to answer without rambling, until one day it just became clear.
I love America because it is confident, competitive, courageous, faithful, idealistic, innovative, inspirational, charitable, and optimistic. It is everything as a nation that I wish to be as a person.
In interviews, I’m often challenged to offer a pithy and personal answer on what American exceptionalism means to me. Hard to do when you’ve written extensively on it- but this is my answer.
It’s individualism, not collectivism. Patriotism, not relativism. Optimism, not pessimism. Limited government, not nanny-state. God, not government. Faith, not secularism. Life, not death. Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. Goodness, not moral equivalence. It’s being bold, not bland. Brave, not meek. Choosing extraordinary over mediocre.
That’s America right there.
I’ll tell you what else I get asked. And I’ll never forget the first time it was asked of me. It was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A hostile local television reporter was covering one of my speeches. The moment we got on camera, the ambush happened. “Why does an Australian care about America?” she thundered. “What do you care?” she sneers.
Luckily, that wasn’t my first rodeo! I knew the game and I knew the Left. I’d spent eight years dealing with media bias and distortion in the Australian media while in public office. Without even blinking, I shot back: “Because what’s good for America is good for the world. A weak America is a weak world. A strong America is a strong world. Everyone in the world should care about and work toward America staying on top.”
Well, that… shut her up. Crickets. Uh, I don’t think I got a Christmas Card that year…
But it’s true. The world’s fortunes travel with America. And I don’t want to live in a world where America is not running the show. Keeping America strong, saving it from a European future- to my mind, that’s the great moral imperative of our time.
I want Americans to understand what is at stake for them and for people around the world if they choose to continue to drift from the virtues and values of traditional America. And I want them to realize what allowed them to become the greatest country in the world and stay there for so long. And what changed to bring them to where they are today.
I don’t do this because I know America better than actual Americans. I don’t. I couldn’t possibly.
But I believe I offer a unique perspective can offer a perspective that might be helpful. Sometimes it takes someone on the outside to remind you what you are like. And I could be living in your future, and I’m here to tell you about it, and what you can expect should you proceed with the fundamental transformation of America.
And I’ll tell you what else I bring to the table: I offer truth. I introduce cold, factual reality to a discussion colored by envy and driven by agendas of those who benefit from a weak America.
All you ever hear is that America is at fault. The default position has become American guilt. And it’s absolute garbage. It’s rubbish. Baloney, to use an American term!
The media-academic corridor has a lot to answer for. It is an absolute disgrace to have professors parading as wardens incarcerating minds, and having the mainstream media carry the water for the Left. Intellectual integrity and moral courage must be returned to America’s schools and newsrooms. That’s why I make a point of speaking to as many high schools and colleges as possible. We must recapture our classrooms.
American exceptionalism is not an accident. Nor did it happen by chance.
It happened because America fostered a state that allowed its citizens the widest latitude for creativity and innovation. It rewarded success without government approvals and bureaucratic interference. It embraced religious faith, aspiration and risk. And for those reasons, the people of America have been the most enterprising, market-oriented, individualistic and averse to taxation and regulation to have ever walked the earth.
And I’ll tell you something else you won’t hear- and I speak for the international silent majority: America wins respect in the world when it display who it is, and not what self- appointed cultural dieticians would want it to become.
I do not believe for one second that America’s best days are behind her. American decline is not inevitable. And to those that say that America should manage its decline “gracefully”, they should be told rather indelicately what they can do with their opinion. Because as they say in these parts: that dog don’t hunt.
Yes, America is falling behind, but only in fulfilling its potential. Take it from me: there is no other country in the world even close to America. The American model has offered, and continues to offer, a greater chance for dignity, hope and happiness for more people than any other system of government has offered its own. If that weren’t the case, you would not be dealing with the illegal immigration problem you currently have. You’re wounded but not conquered.
You might not realize but there are Americans all around the world doing great things for America. Doing so much to keep their country; to keep the improbable American experiment alive.
I’ve been blessed to have been able to travel the world in my twenty-nine years, and am continually struck by American works.
In June 2011, I was invited to keynote the 4-H National Sport Shooting Championships Closing Ceremony in San Antonio, Texas. In front of me were over a thousand coaches, competitors and parents, representing almost every state in America. I believe 4H has almost six million members across the county. And I had the opportunity to meet the teams of every state, pose for photographs, and was amazed at their courtesy, confidence, inquisitiveness and how articulate they were. The thing I remember most was the Pledge that was recited that night:
“I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.
What a testimony to the American tradition. Just exceptional. To the bone. America might be in a lot of trouble but it’s important not to overlook its treasure. There are still tens of millions of Americans that are being faithful to the America we all know and love.
The current season in America is confusion. And it’s time to think seriously, deeply and searchingly. It’s our job to inform: for an informed citizenry is the bulwark of democracy. I believe there is a thirst for a mooring in America. And it has to be a belief in American exceptionalism. And the only people that can deliver it are patriotic forces with traditional values.
How do we win this fight? How do we vanquish the forces that make us weak? How do we restore American glory? What does America have to do to come back?
Here’s my 15-point plan for an American renaissance:
- Exercise fidelity to the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and founding ideals.
- A return to American self-belief as a force of nature. As any leader knows: you can’t expect others to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself.
- A re-engagement with cultural institutions. It is time for conservatives to compete for control of the cultural institutions that for the past four decades have been the forums and seedbeds of the Left. From Hollywood to popular music to teaching to journalism. The days of the cultural elites playing unopposed… They’re numbered. We’re coming to get you.
- Ending the culture of complaint, and entitlement. We need to put out the professional offence takers out of business. They’re designed to intimidate us, to remove our confidence, to make us afraid to even look at someone the wrong way. To make all our visceral convictions suspect. The days of promoting grievance and envy… They’re over.
- Standing up to bullies. America cannot allow itself to continue to be bullied by the anti-bullying crusade. It’s time to punch the bully nose.
- An embrace of rugged individualism. Rugged individualism is not an exercise in political nostalgia- it is a genuine solution for the myriad problems facing the US in the twenty-first century. American national character must be understood in that it is a self-made society. The world needs America to be a country of self-reliant warriors, not pussycats.
- A re-commitment to success. If you ain’t first, you’re last. Work harder. Be the best. That’s America. There is no virtue in striving for mediocrity. No American kid dreams of growing up to become the Vice President. That’s the way it has to stay.
- Desire upward mobility. Upward mobility can never be replaced by downward stability. If America does that, it shrugs its way to Belgium. Taking a risk is virtuous.
- Support Israel, always. Defend Israel to your last breath- it’s a providential nation- and American success and purpose is linked to Israel. Supporting Israel is an American value.
- Limit government. Nothing will extinguish liberty quicker than an activist government. Its goal is to turn adults into infants, and everyone into victims. There is nothing more odious or obnoxious than a government whose attitude is: “Don’t worry, we know what is best for you.” Limited government is an American thing. Keep it that way.
- Peace through strength. The uncommon valor America has shown against the sword of tyranny must continue. Weakness is provocative. Conviction is the mother of success. The United States military is the greatest vehicle against evil ever, and the noblest fighting force the world has ever seen. It must continue to be stronger than the rest of the world’s militaries combined. America doesn’t have to attend every argument it’s invited to, but it does have a special role to play in the world as the keeper of civilization.
- Smash political correctness. Political correctness empowers radical Islam, terror and socialism. Advocates of the PC agenda are as dangerous to America as the men that authored September 11. Margaret Thatcher said it best when she said the world has never ceased to be dangerous but the West has ceased to be vigilant.
- Restore character. While it may be substantially less than other places, America has a character problem that must be arrested. It was Dwight D. Eisenhower that said: “The spirit of man is more important than mere physical strength, and the spiritual fiber of a nation than its wealth”. And always remember Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous line: “America is great because America is good. If America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” I urge Americans to understand and defend the sanctity of human life from conception until natural death.
- Guard your Christianity closely. It is behind everything great about America- whether its neighborliness, charitable works or optimism. The more Christianity eroded in Europe, the poorer, less powerful, weaker and less influential it became. John Adams wasn’t joking when he said that the Constitution was “designed for a religious and moral people” and was “wholly inadequate for any other”.
- Remain economically massive and nimble. Capital and imagination must continue to combine more quickly in America than anywhere else in the world. Taxes must always be low, and government should be out of the way. Don’t spend money you don’t have.
That’s my 15-point plan to reboot America and get it online again. That 15-point plan is the hope and change America needs.
To me, America is the hope that banishes hopelessness.
Our mission is clear. We need to rescue America. Through consistency, dedication and faithfulness. Through going back to the beginning. By keeping the traditional family unit as your greatest treasure. By standing for liberty. By standing for the Constitution. By having a victory mentality, not a victim mentality.
We want an America where the weak become strong and the strong become great. Where you can still rise above the circumstances of your birth and achieve what you want to achieve. After freedom, inspiration is America’s next greatest export. Anything is possible. Spread the word to your friends, neighbors and acquaintances. And let what starts here in Wetumpka spread and spread across families, towns, counties and states- let the steady trickle turn into a stream and then a waterfall and then an ocean. Let there be a patriotic flood that washes the pollutants and contaminants away.
My friends of Wetumpka: they say that life is defined by moments. That our wealth is in our memories. I’ll never forget this night until the glorious day I get the phone call from God.
Your nation inspires me. You inspire me. You give me a reason to live. You’re everything I thought you would be. It is my great privilege to serve you. I believe its better to die on your feet than live on your knees. And I invite you to join me in this battle.
Help me help you, and let’s preside over the strongest, proudest and most prosperous America yet. We can do it. We must do. We will do it.
Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. God Bless you, and may God continue to bless these United States of America.