I was on vacation during the Republican convention so I'm a bit behind and am just getting around to viewing the speeches now. I have to say that I really liked Condi Rice's speech. I've definitely been critical of her before but my hat is off to her, she gave one of the strongest speeches on the idea of America that I've heard in a long time. She deserves to be the elite that she is and I hope she maintains her presence in the public eye. She understands what America is and unlike many, can eloquently make the case for it and for what it stands for. Anyway, here are some of my favorite portions of her speech (full transcript here) with the full video below:
Indeed that is the question of the moment- “Where does America stand?” When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question – clearly and unambiguously — the world is a chaotic and dangerous place. The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy. I, like you, know the sacrifices that Americans have made – yes including the ultimate sacrifice of many of our bravest. Yet our armed forces remain the sure foundation of liberty. We are fortunate to have men and women who volunteer – they volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom. And we owe them our eternal gratitude....And I know too that there is weariness – a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough. But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos —- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum. My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind....Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined. And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve — because peace really does come through strength. Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s hands.We must work for an open global economy and pursue free and fair trade – to grow our exports and our influence abroad. In the last years, the United States has ratified three trade agreements, all negotiated in the Bush Administration. If you are concerned about China’s rise – consider this fact – China has signed 15 Free Trade Agreements and is negotiating 20 more. Sadly we are abandoning the playing field of free trade – and it will come back to haunt us.We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence to slip from our grasp. We have a great gift of oil and gas reserves here in North America that must be and can be developed while protecting our environment. And we have the ingenuity in the private sector to tap alternative sources of energy.And most importantly, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild the foundation of American strength – our economy – stimulating private sector led growth and small business entrepreneurship. When the world looks at us today they see an American government that cannot live within its means. They see a government that continues to borrow money, mortgaging the future of generations to come. The world knows that when a nation loses control of its finances, it eventually loses control of its destiny. That is not the America that has inspired others to follow our lead....After all, when the world looks to America, they look to us because we are the most successful political and economic experiment in human history. That is the true basis of “American Exceptionalism.” The essence of America – that which really unites us — is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion – it is an idea — and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you are going.Ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement. We have not believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have not been envious of one another and jealous of each other’s success. Ours has been a belief in opportunity and a constant battle – long and hard — to extend the benefits of the American dream to all – without regard to circumstances of birth.But the American ideal is indeed endangered today. There is no country, no not even a rising China, that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves if we fail to accomplish the tasks before us here at home....My mom was a teacher – I have the greatest respect for the profession – we need great teachers – not poor or mediocre ones. We need to have high standards for our students – self-esteem comes from achievement not from lax standards and false praise. And we need to give parents greater choice – particularly poor parents whose kids – most often minorities — are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights struggle of our day.If we do anything less, we will condemn generations to joblessness, hopelessness and dependence on the government dole. To do anything less is to endanger our global economic competitiveness. To do anything less is to tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement a turn toward grievance and entitlement....And on a personal note– a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America - her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant – but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – she can be President of the United States and she becomes the Secretary of State.Yes, America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect. But of course it has never been inevitable – it has taken leadership, courage and an unwavering faith in our values.