It’s been a tough week for our country. Violence has no place in our American political system, and we’re all in agreement that the events that played out on Capitol Hill this week were unacceptable.
There are many in the media who are eager to blame Republicans for the events that transpired. And there are many in our party who are eager to blame President Trump both for the violence in Washington and for the results of the senate elections in Georgia.
But you know what? If that’s all we get out of this, our future will be no different than our past.
There are a lot of Americans whose frustration has been building for many years. Republicans have had opportunities to fix our healthcare system, reform immigration, and get our fiscal house in order, among many other things. Republicans have had chances to deliver for the American people. But we haven’t followed through.
Republicans got our butts kicked in Georgia on Tuesday. A 33-year-old with no accomplishments and a smooth-talking preacher wiped the floor with us. The idea that Georgia, of all places, could elect two communists to the United States Senate was ridiculous.
Our country has changed. We have failed to educate generations of our children about what makes America unique. Few, if any of them, have been taught the history of our decades-long fight to defeat communism. Meanwhile, the left’s indoctrination takes place every day with kids all across America from the time they walk into a school at age 5 to the time they graduate college at 22.
Republicans have not been disciplined enough to do the hard work. The American people need us to fight for them on a daily basis, not just 30 to 60 days before an election.
Our party has some serious work ahead of us. We are going to have to sit down and collectively answer a very simple question: Why does America need Republicans?
The answer to that is very simple: 2020.
Last year, we saw governments all across the country shut down people’s lives. American citizens could not go to church, run their business, or send their children to school.
COVID didn’t crush the economy. Government crushed the economy. And then, just as quickly, government turned around and held itself out as the savior. Frankly, the Treasury Department can’t print money fast enough to keep up with Congress’ Christmas list.
What is so troubling is that by April, we knew that there was a specific vulnerable population that we needed to protect from COVID-19. But we also knew that the vast majority of people would recover from this virus with no serious difficulty. Despite this, very few changed course.
In 2020, despite the virus, if you wanted to riot, loot, and burn buildings down, the government either stood idly by while you did that, or worse, tacitly encouraged the destruction.
Government didn’t punish the violent criminals. But it did everything it could to punish those Americans who simply tried to defend themselves, their families, their livelihoods, and their property.
What we lived in 2020 is the left’s vision for America.
So now we know what the other side stands for. What is it that Republicans stand for?
We stand for the rule of law, not selective prosecution based on what your political views are. We stand for the right to defend yourself, your family, and your property. For your right to worship, to actually practice and live your faith according to your conscience.
We stand for your right to earn a living and to do business.
America is unique in the world because we have a government that is limited in its powers, and our people are guaranteed certain, God-given liberties. We are not governed by aristocrats, elites, or experts. We the people are the government.
Sixty years ago, President Eisenhower in his farewell address warned the nation to avoid the impulse of living only for today. He spoke about how wrong it would be to mortgage the future of our grandchildren. He argued it would lead to the loss of their political and spiritual heritage. He said, “We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”
The Republican Party has to lead the nation away from borrowing from our children’s future. We must put an end to the accounting gimmicks used to deceive people. Joe Biden has been in politics for 47 years. He was elected to the U.S. Senate the year after I was born. In 1973, our national debt was roughly $450 billion dollars. Today, that is a little more than what we pay in interest on our national debt. Republicans bear as much blame for this untenable situation as Democrats. We have forgotten principles we once held dear.
We have a lot of work to do in the coming days. What may have worked in the past is not good enough anymore. It is not enough to say, “vote for us because you’ll make more money or your pocketbook will be bigger.” It is not enough to say, “vote for us because we’ll cut your taxes or reduce the regulations on your business.” It is not even enough to say, “vote for us because we will fight against abortion or Obamacare or whatever else.”
It’s not enough to be against things. We need to show the American people what we are for: We must more clearly articulate to the American people that we are the only party that respects them as human beings. We are the only party that believes the American people have God-given rights.
The Republican Party respects people as individuals. We don’t divide people based on their religion or their roots. We don’t ostracize people who think for themselves. We understand that each person is different. Each person deserves the opportunity to build his or her life without some self-important government bureaucrat arbitrarily telling them what they can and can’t do.
Our Republican Party respects everyone equally under the Constitution and treats them as Martin Luther King, Jr. wished: according to the content of their character and not the color of their skin.
The Republican Party exists to fight for America, and for every American. The challenge before us is to continue to be the one nation in the history of the world where any person, regardless of their standing at birth, can make anything of themselves. This applied to me – once just a farm kid and now the first female governor of South Dakota.
The American Dream is possible because of the principles that we Republicans stand for; the same principles that are under vigorous attack by the other side. We believe in certain ideals and institutions, which have served as an inspiration to people all over the world. Those people hold liberty dear in their hearts. That’s why people all across the globe have uprooted their lives to come to America. And it’s why, today, Americans across the country are flocking to South Dakota.
If you think about it, that’s America’s true diversity. It’s a diversity grounded in the pursuit of truth and the virtuous life, where we will be known by the content of our character and our hard work.
We must go into this battle for freedom with our eyes wide open, educated to the tactics the radical left will use, and yet totally pure in our motives. This isn’t about us. It’s about our children and their future. It’s about the example that we set for them. We have one shot to preserve for our children “the last best hope of man on earth.” If we fail, at least they will know that we did all that we could to hold on to it.
Adapted from a speech Governor Noem gave to the Republican National Committee.
Kristi Noem is the governor of South Dakota.