WE ARE nearly at the end of a long campaign. As I have moved about our country during the past few weeks, many people have told me, "Mr. President, we know where you stand on jobs, and we think you are right. We know where you stand on inflation, and we agree with you. We know where you stand on foreign policy, and we agree with you there, too. But we are not quite sure what it all adds up to. We are not quite clear where you are aiming to lead America."
So today, I want to talk with you about my concerns and my hopes for America as we enter our third century.
My vision of America is a nation that is strong and good, a nation that feels the need for constant improvement, a nation whose people care about each other and want to retain their own special sense of identity. Beyond that--a nation in which basic human rights are respected and maintained: the right to speak our minds; the right to choose the men and women who enact and enforce our laws; the right to stand equal before the law, regardless of sex, race, or religion; the right to bargain freely in the economic marketplace; the right to worship as we choose.
We have been through a lot in recent years--a war, a recession, runaway inflation, riots, scandals--a collection of troubles that shook America's confidence and left our people exhausted. In the past 2 years, I have done my best to put America back on even keel, to chart a steady course for the future.
America has had its heart broken too many times when grand promises went unfulfilled. We have learned through painful experience that when those frustrations cannot be held inside any more, our society explodes in violence and fear. That is why it is so important that those who would lead this country be honest enough to promise only what they know they can deliver, to admit that some problems can't be solved by waving a magic wand, or creating still another government program, or even by changing an administration. The answer lies not in making government bigger, but in making it serve us better in assuming more responsibilities for ourselves.
This Nation was not built on comfort, but on sacrifice; not on a maze of government programs, but on the strength and vitality of a free, self-reliant people.
We can improve the quality of life in America. We can improve education and health care. We can have comfortable, affordable homes in safe, decent neighborhoods. We can have clean air and water. We can create more parks and recreational facilities. We can care for those who need our help. We can keep America strong and at peace.
These are all worthy goals, and the government can help reach them all. But the government can't do everything. If it tries to do too much, it ends up doing nothing very well. If it assumes too much power and control, we will have sown the seeds of our own destruction as a free people. I would never let government grow so big or so strong that it can take away our freedom. I would not allow our people to grow so dependent on government that they would lose the incentive to develop their own creativity, generosity, and initiative. When a government solution is needed, I would make government respond at the level closest to the problem.
That is my vision of America: a vision of limited government and unlimited opportunity; a commitment to common sense and common progress.
On July 4, we celebrated the first 200 years of America's history. On November 2, with your help, we will begin a new generation of freedom for all Americans.