Mar 14, 2015

Speech to NorCal Tea Party Dinner

Auburn, California 

March 14, 2015


Thank you for your invitation to speak tonight and thank you for everything you have done and that you are doing to save our country.

Six years ago, the Tea Party formed.  As Lincoln once said of Republicans, “We did so in response to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us.  Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud and pampered enemy.

And he then went on to ask the question all of you have had to confront: “Did we brave all then, to falter now?  Now, when that same enemy is waivering and disheveled and belligerent?”

Lincoln answered that question with these words:  “The end is not doubtful, we shall not fail.  If we stand firm, we shall not fail.  Wise counsels may accelerate or mistakes delay it, but in the end the victory is surely ours.”

You have answered the same question with your presence here today.

What as the Tea Party accomplished in these last six years?  Nothing much.  Except that you stopped the Obama agenda dead in its tracks – decimated his supporters in Congress and replaced them with the largest Republican majorities that have been elected to either house of Congress since 1928.  Not bad.

For your trouble, the Tea Party has faced the ferocious attacks of the  political left – and the snarky barbs of the Republican establishment.  You’ve been called every name in the book.  Obama can’t call Islamic terrorists Islamic terrorists, but his administration has no trouble calling the Tea Party terrorists.

But remember this: when the other guy is calling you names, you can know two things for certain: First, you are winning the argument.  And second, the other guy knows you are winning the argument.

But it wasn’t just name calling.  This administration felt so threatened by you that it tasked the most powerful and feared domestic agency in the entire U.S. Government – The Internal Revenue Service – to harass and threaten and intimidate you into withdrawing from the political field.

But this didn’t happen in a vacuum – the American people were watching all this time.  They sense their country is in grave danger and they are now looking for answers in the great debate going on among the American people.  That’s the debate that matters.  The debates in Washington are just a reflection of the debate that goes on every day over backyard fences and family dinner tables and coffee at Starbucks.  And it is upon the outcome of that debate that the future of the nation is being decided.  For six years, you have been at the forefront of that debate.  And you have made an incredible difference.

Yes, we have been vilified.  Here in the fourth Congressional District, I have observed that there are two thriving political parties – the Republicans and the Sacramento Bee!  In virtually every article and editorial during the last campaign, they called me a “Tea Party Congressman.”  They did it so often, we decided to poll on it.  And what we discovered is, being a Tea Party Congressman is actually a big plus!  And the election bore that out – I won by 20 points – thanks to the hard work of so many of you in this room. 

They say that the difference between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street is the difference between the American Revolution and the French revolution.  Well, long live the American Revolution!

I believe we are now at the threshold of a major political realignment.  Arthur Laffer has often pointed out that four years of Jimmy Carter produced eight years of Ronald Reagan, which means that eight years of Barack Obama should get us the second coming of Christ.

Clearly, this nation is going through an industrial-sized case of buyer’s remorse.  As Lincoln said, “The voters are everything.  If the voters get their backsides too close to the fire, they’ll just have to sit on the blisters a while.”  It is a painful experience, but it is a learning experience, and they emerge from that experience sadder, wiser, and in time for the next election.

That awakening is manifest not only in the largest congressional majorities since the 1920’s – we also have more Republican governors and state legislators than at any time since 1920.    In the last six years, we have seen a net shift of 67 U.S. House seats, 13 U.S. Senate Seats, 11 U.S. Governors and 913 state legislative seats. 

In fact, Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy uses a pyramid chart to illustrate how far we have come and where we are heading. 

At the top of the pyramid is the percentage of the White House Republicans have.  ZERO.

Then the Senate.  We have 54 percent of the Senate.

Then the House.  We have 58 percent of the House

Then Governors.  We have 64 percent of the Governors.

Then State legislatures.  We have 70 percent of state legislatures.

The closer we get to the people, the better Republicans are doing.  It just takes a little longer for the upper levels to catch up – but they clearly are.

And that’s true even in California.  Republicans outnumber Democrats 46.5 percent to 42 percent in city council seats and we have 60 percent of the seats on county boards of supervisors.

The Left consoles themselves in saying that the 2014 election was just an anomaly driven by low voter turnout, and that the presidential turnout in 2016 will wipe out those gains.

Maybe.  But maybe not.  Sean Trende, the chief political analyst for Real Clear Politics wrote a very revealing piece just after the election.  He pulled apart the vote from every group and sub-group in the electorate.  He noted that the difference between the 2012 and 2014 elections was a 6.5 point shift toward the Republicans.  And yes, about two points of that 6.5 point shift was due to differences in voter turnout.  But that leaves 4.5 points of shift that could reflect something much more profound.  America is awakening. 

Indeed, Trende estimated that if each demographic group had voted in 2012 as they voted in 2014 – which adjusted for turnout differences – Obama would not have been re-elected.  The shift is that big.

With this realignment and our historic gains in the House and Senate also comes great frustration that things aren’t changing faster. 

But they ARE changing – and in some very significant ways. 

The United States Senate is once again deliberating.  During the last session under Harry Reid, the House sent the Senate some 382 job-creating bills that the Senate simply sat on.  They didn’t pass them; didn’t defeat them and send us their own ideas; they didn’t amend them.  They just ignored them. 

Our system cannot operate like that.  The first and most significant effect of the new Republican majority is that the Senate is again functioning as the Founders intended.  The first fruit of this change is the Keystone Pipeline, promising 42,000 construction jobs, $8 billion of private investment, and when completed, a half-million barrels of Canadian crude oil entering the American economy.

But we have to remember, the Senate is…well, the Senate is different.   As Jefferson said, the Senate is the saucer in which the hot tea of the House is left to cool.  And that’s frustrating – but it is designed to work like that for some very good reasons.

What it took the House one day to pass took the Senate two months.  More amendments were considered to it on the Senate floor than had been allowed during the prior year of Reid’s tenure on ALL bills combined.  And for almost any bill to be considered, it requires 60 votes – meaning that six Democrats have to cross party lines and vote with Republicans.

And the result was we put the Keystone bill on the President’s desk.  Yes, he vetoed it – but in so doing he further alienated and isolated American workers from the Democratic Party.  And I expect we will see more of that in the days and months ahead.

The next advance our victory brought was the prospect of adopting a balanced budget for the first time since 1997.  For four years, the House had passed balanced budgets – but when they reached Harry Reid’s senate, once again, he just sat on them.  Now, the budget process is functioning again and I am cautiously optimistic that we will see a budget that balances in ten years and begins paying off the ruinous debt that we have run up under this administration. 

The reason I’m optimistic is that the budget doesn’t require the President’s signature and doesn’t need 60 votes in the Senate – only a simple majority.  And once it is in place, ALL appropriations bills must conform to that budget.  Any changes in statute to bring spending back in line can be placed in a reconciliation bill that requires only a simple majority in the Senate to place that on the President’s desk.

And over the next two years, investigations in both the House and the Senate will move forward to expose the widespread corruption and incompetence that the American Left will have to answer for in the next election.

Meanwhile, the House will continue to challenge the President’s unconstitutional amnesty orders.  And although there are practical limitations to what the Congress can do to stop him with the power of the purse -- as we recently saw with the DHS funding bill -- this is not the end of our efforts by a long shot.  A Gallup poll in January showed the American people oppose those orders by a whopping 56 to 41 percent.  The Courts have so far agreed with us, and I am told the chances are very good the injunction against the President will hold.  And every day, Democrats will have to explain to struggling American workers why they want to reward five million illegal aliens for breaking the law with the right to compete for scarce jobs while consuming thousands of dollars of taxpayer-paid benefits.

People often ask me, “What can I do?”  The answer is, you are doing it every time you talk to a neighbor, comment on a blog, send an article to a friend, call in to a talk show or write a letter to the editor.  Here’s an idea for the Tea Party – suppose you started asking every one of your members to write just ONE letter to the editor or call in to just ONE radio talk show every month.  Suppose EVERY tea party member agreed to post just one comment on the internet every day?

The Left does that.  Now, as Lincoln said, they are wavering and disheveled and belligerent.  Now is the time to double down.

Hillsdale President Larry Arnn has often noted a fundamental difference between the American and European views of sovereignty.  In Europe, the sovereign is the government, which loans its people certain powers and people pledge their allegiance to that sovereign.

In America, the sovereign is the people, and we pledge our allegiance to OUR constitution.  In America, the sovereign does not govern.  In America, the sovereign hires help to govern.  And once we hire them, we watch them, evaluate them, we criticize them and every two years decide if we’re going to keep them or replace them.  That’s the great discussion that goes on among the sovereign people for the two years between elections that you have been so instrumental in advancing.  THAT IS HOW THE AMERICAN SOVEREIGN GOVERNS. 

Here is the great paradox of American Constitutional government.  If you break any law passed under the Constitution, there is a huge, armed bureaucracy that will swing into action.  Break any of those laws, someone with a badge and a gun will eventually show up on your doorstep.

But if you break the Constitution, what happens?  Nothing.  There are no penalties for breaking the Constitution.  Why is that?  It is because the Constitution was written to be self-enforcing.  Each of the three branches are designed to check the others.  But that only works if the powers of government are evenly balanced.  And that, in turn, only works when those who exercise those powers are devoted and obedient to that Constitution.  And that only works when WE THE PEOPLE insist upon it through the votes we cast in elections.

And if we ever stop insisting on it, if we elect enough officials who view the Constitution with the contempt we see from this President, we will lose our Constitution and the freedom it protects. 

The Constitution belongs to “We the people;” its preservation depends on “We the people;” and never has it been in greater peril than it is today. 

Late in life, Thomas Jefferson penned this haunting question to John Adams.  “Yes, we did create a near perfect union.  But will THEY keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom?”

Let that not be the epitaph of our generation.  Of our generation, let it be said that just when it looked like our Constitution was fading, this generation of Americans rescued it, renewed it, and passed it on inviolate to the many generations of Americans who followed.

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Tom McClintock
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