Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Day Message from Chairman Matt Strawn

Inaugural Day Message
by Matt Strawn
Chairman, Republican Party of Iowa
Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today is undoubtedly an historic day.

Republican. Democrat. Conservative. Liberal. Today is a day in which all Americans should be proud.

While the election of our nation’s first African-American president is indeed worthy of celebration, today is also a day to reflect on the remarkable republic in which we live. Often taken for granted, the peaceful transition of power is no less remarkable today than it was at the founding of our republic.

There are no tanks on the White House lawn. There was not a single shot fired. The people of our land have spoken with the franchise and not the fist.

I am reminded of this simple, yet remarkable concept every time I visit the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.

There hangs in the Rotunda, a portrait that is especially poignant today, James Trumbull’s depiction of then-General George Washington resigning his commission to the Continental Congress as Commander-in-Chief of the Army at Annapolis in 1783.

General Washington, with the control of the new world and its Army in the palm of his hand, took the then-unheard of step of resigning his commission. Washington’s willingness to resign, give up his power to others in order that he might return home to domestic life, speaks of his confidence in the capacity of a young nation to continue its democratic experiment.

So, as we sit here this morning, some two-hundred and twenty-five years later, what is the assessment of our republic and its democratic experiment? What is the state of the republic that requires such like-minded compatriots to gather this morning for a discussion on defending freedom and repelling the forces of socialism?

Perhaps, the words of another founding father, Patrick Henry, are especially salient as the 44th President prepares to take the oath of office:

“It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to
shut our eyes against a painful truth — and listen to the song of that siren,
till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a
great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of
those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so
nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit
it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to
provide for it.”

--Patrick Henry, speech in the Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775
As President-elect Obama assumes office, it is incumbent upon all of us here today to know the whole truth -- to be those very eyes and ears of our citizenry. As defenders of freedom, here is just a sample of what we are up against.
  • The seduction of greater public benefits without greater private sacrifice
  • The redistribution of wealth from society’s earners to its wards
  • Further control over the means of capital production by the state
  • Greater encroachment of the government into your family’s life.
Ladies and gentlemen, the time is at hand to be bold. Stand up for freedom. Stand up for not only the freedom to succeed, but the freedom to fail. Stand up for the freedom to raise your family and educate your children as you see fit.

Stand up and educate your friends and your neighbors about what is at stake.

Recall the words of Revolutionary leader – and modern day brewmaster -- Samuel Adams, who said in November 1775:

“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”

I say all this today because our society is sinking under its own weight and it is time for Republicans in Iowa to stand up. Stand up and offer bold solutions in these troubled times. You are the leaders of our state. Elected Leaders. Opinion Leaders. Business Leaders. The people in this room are the messengers needed to take our bold solutions to every corner of this state.

Nearly three decades ago, Ronald Reagan issued a call to arms for conservatives to “raise a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors that make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people.”

Friends, it is time to be bold again here in Iowa.

We have a Governor that believes we can borrow our way into prosperity.

We have a Governor that believes the key to reversing our slide into educational mediocrity is talking about drop-out ages and teacher pay.

We have a Governor that refuses to show leadership on protecting families and marriage.

We have a Governor that believes fiscal accountability means flying to Washington to beg for federal table scraps.

We have a Governor that doesn’t understand it is risk-taking entrepreneurs, not state agencies, that create jobs.

And that’s just the start.

Republicans win elections when we provide a clear contrast between the parties and share our political philosophy of freedom and liberty with the voting public. … We can never out-Democrat the Democrats, nor should we ever try to.

As Joseph Reed, a Colonel in the Continental Army said best in September 1775:

“I have no notion of being hanged for half treason. When a subject draws his sword against his prince, he must cut his way through, if he means afterward to sit down in safety.”

Defending liberty and freedom starts at home. Here in this room, and in rooms like this all across our great state. This is a fight that must be fought. This is a fight that must be won. Iowans are thirsting for leadership…. Now, it is up to us as Republicans and conservatives to go out and provide it.

Thank you.