Excerpts From Remarks Prepared for Delivery by Vice President Richard Nixon, Victory Stadium, Roanoke, VA
This is a time when thinking Democrats all over the Nation are having second thoughts. Understandably so, because the party of Schlesinger, Galbraith, and Bowles not only is not the party of Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, but also its controlling influences openly demonstrated in Los Angeles a cavalier disregard for, even a derision and hostility toward, the great precepts and principles of the Democratic Party.
The party's pledges to America, as adopted in its platform only 2 months ago, sharply reveal the distance it has moved away from what once was Democratic philosophy.
We find in that platform pledges to special interest groups, blocs, and minorities rather than to all the American people.
We find lavish Federal spending pledged for present programs, plus a host of costly new programs, all sworn to be accomplished without refueling inflation, or raising taxes. Every one of us, including the very men who wrote this platform, know that this is plain nonsense. When he is writing under his own name, even Mr. Galbraith has the good sense not to try to fool the American people and comes out candidly for financing his public spending by greatly increased sales taxes.
We find promises of increased consumption, side by side with pledges that would increase production costs and thereby reduce markets.
We find a free economy promised but also pledges to thrust the power, direction, and influence of the Federal Government deep into the heart of our economic life.
We find promises of increased consumption, side by side with but joined with pledges to repeal statutes that protect workers, industries, and the public against bossism and abuse in the labor movement.
We find, throughout the platform, federalism run rampant in nearly every significant area of local, State, and national life, ranging from housing to education to youth training to city administration to natural resources to labor management relations to agriculture - all floated on a sea of taxpayers' dollars.
It is a bureaucratic state platform - a centralization of Federal power platform - a series of pledges that in the aggregate would debilitate State and local government in America, weaken personal liberty, and expend for the individual, by Federal decision - or by inflation, funds he feels competent, and is competent, to expend himself.
In sum, it is a vote of lack of confidence in the individual and a distortion of our delicately balanced system of Federal, State, and local government.
Correspondents covering his campaign report increasingly that Senator Kennedy's campaign is not getting off the ground, that he is not getting his message across to the American people.
I believe it is reasonable to assume that if a man, covered as extensively as he is by press and other media, is not getting his message across it is because it is out of harmony with the mood and aspirations of the people.
It is the same reason he could not get his program through the rump session of Congress even though his own party had 2-to-1 majorities in both Houses.
Small wonder that upon hearing the opposition speeches and upon reading such a platform the thoughtful have second thoughts.
Virginia Democrats and Virginia Republicans alike, together with millions of other Americans, worship at the shrines of two preeminent Virginia political philosophers whose teachings were for years anchors of Democratic philosophy.
Thomas Jefferson, one of these great Virginians, wrote: "If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy."
Woodrow Wilson left us these words: "Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it."
Neither viewpoint - Wilson's or Jefferson's - can be reconciled with the published commitments of the platform adopted by the Democratic Party at Los Angeles.
But the views of these statesmen can be reconciled with the concepts to which I and Cabot Lodge and our platform subscribe.
I would compress those concepts into these words:
The first responsibility of the Federal Government is to keep the Nation strong and safe and free; to create a favorable climate for the rapid and sound expansion of our economy; to carry out the constitutional guarantees of full equality under law for all persons; to promote the general welfare wherever and whenever national action is necessary to accomplish common objectives.
The first responsibility of State governments is to provide all those services, necessary to the welfare of our people, which can best be provided by legislatives and executives close to the people, acutely sensitive to local attitudes and needs.
Our two great parties agree by and large on the great goals of America. But they disagree profoundly on how best to work toward those goals.
One way mapped in the Democratic platform is the road of federalism, concentration of power, manipulation of the masses, and annihilation of the individual. This road starts in Washington, D.C., and goes to the citizen.
The other is the way of putting our primary faith in individual rather than government enterprise, diffusion of power, faith in State and local competence and responsibility, and devotion to preserving individual liberty. This road starts with the citizen and goes, as necessary, to Washington.
I believe absolutely in the eagerness and responsibility and capability of our people to lead their lives productively for themselves and for our country without excessive supervision from Washington.
You of Roanoke and of Virginia - indeed, the great majority of our 180 million people - share that conviction, I am sure, no matter your party affiliation.
And, so, I ask only this of you and your fellow citizens in this presidential campaign, as I have asked of thousands of others: Check your convictions against the parties' pledges, check them as well against the views of experience of the parties' leaders, think about the future of America in these troubled times, then work and vote for the leaders who you believe have the capability and the will to govern in keeping with your views. If you do this, we have no doubt that millions of Democrats will support our ticket because their party broke faith at Los Angeles with the great ideals and traditions of its founders.
Richard Nixon, Excerpts From Remarks Prepared for Delivery by Vice President Richard Nixon, Victory Stadium, Roanoke, VA Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273930