Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Excerpts From Remarks at Republican National Committee Breakfast.

January 31, 1958

THANKS VERY MUCH for your welcome. All I can say is that any Party that can get up this much enthusiasm by breakfast time is really jet-propelled.

One of the most pleasant events in my schedule is to meet with this dedicated and hard-working group assembled here today. You come from every part of the country and from every kind of background. But we all have one thing in common: the conviction that the great basic principles of Republicanism, adapted to mid-twentieth century problems, will give the American people the soundest, cleanest and most effective government possible.

Now, our immediate interest is the Congressional contest that lies ahead this year. We all know that the political prophets have already got out their sharp pencils and made a lot of mathematical calculations about the odds the Republicans are up against in various states and districts.

But these calculations overlook the decisive element: what counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight--it's the size of the fight in the dog.

Of course, you as seasoned workers know that there are no secret weapons in politics.

Today, as always, the three ingredients of success are:

1. Good candidates.

2. Faith in a good cause.

3. Hard work.

When we have all three, we have the formula for victory.

As to the first--getting good candidates--the time to act is now. In some districts, it is only a matter of weeks before the time to file will have expired.

You know, and I know, that the Republican Party has in its ranks unnumbered thousands of talented and public-spirited men and women who would make first-rate candidates. We want candidates who-whether young in years or not--are young in courage and in creative energy. We need people who have the special ability to tell the story of our cause effectively. Regardless of how busy that person is, get him out in front--and don't take "no" for an answer. After all, in view of the gravity of the decisions resting on our elected representatives these days, can anyone honestly believe that there is a more important place for our best talents?

The second ingredient of success is faith in a good cause.

We have a good cause, in the form of a proud record of past achievement, and a lively, thorough, well-balanced program for the future.

Let us never for one instant forget that fact. And let us never permit the straight story of steady progress to be drowned out by the dismal wails of despair that we have been hearing from some public platforms for most of the past five years.

By the way, you may have heard long ago the definition of a demagogue, but it is still expressive: a demagogue is a person who rocks the boat himself so as to persuade everybody that there's a terrible storm on the water.

I am not going to review in detail the record of solid accomplishment of the past five years--you all know it well. But it is all too easy sometimes, in the fast pace of current events, to forget some of the monumental achievements that now seem almost to be taken for granted. Our political literature must place all the facts in the hands of every Republican candidate and every Republican worker. There are two important Republican accomplishments, for example, that seem to have been somewhat overlooked, even by ourselves.

One is the huge national highway improvement program, bringing at last to America a modern road system consistent with the transportation needs of our age. The other is the St. Lawrence Seaway project, postponed for decades, until this Administration got it off the debating platform and into construction.

Moreover, let's not get so preoccupied with other matters that we forget to tell the American people about the host of big changes that have improved American life and government in the past five years:

--the freeing of our economy from strangling controls

--getting the government out of business;

--the biggest tax cut and tax reform in history;

--the restoration of respect for state and local governments;

--the restoration of respect for private business;

--the genuine improvement in civil rights and the lot of minorities;

--the labor peace that has accompanied our policy of non-interference with labor negotiations;

--the marked advances in social security, unemployment insurance and workmen's compensation;

--and, not least, an achievement all America is proud of: five solid years of clean, honest government.

What is more, we have had five years of prosperity. This simple truth, understood by every citizen, is not altered by the plain fact that business in general has been falling off in late months.

In our kind of free economy, expansion does not proceed regularly. There are some pauses and some downturns. Not all parts of the economy move together at the same pace. Today, for example, residential construction outlays are moving up, while manufacturers generally are reducing outlays for plant and equipment.

This is a period of consolidating the gains of recent years. Many people are paying off installment debts. Many businesses are trimming inventories. The economy is catching its breath for a new advance after the fast expansion of recent years.

The forces of growth may be expected to reassert themselves later in the year, because the American economy remains basically strong, and the American people remain basically confident. These forces of growth include the needs and wants of a growing population, the impetus from huge research and development expenditures, and the demands for economic development around the world. Moreover, it is good solid Republican conviction that government should continue taking all proper measures whenever necessary to help promote renewed expansion in output and employment.

At the same time, a basic tenet of the Republican faith is our unswerving belief in the American system of private enterprise. This is one of the clearest distinctions between Republicans and some vocal opponents. A few political Cassandras pop up regularly to suggest that deep depression is just around the corner, and only panicky governmental intervention on a massive scale can stem the disaster.

We reject this pessimistic doctrine and the lack of confidence it reflects.

Republicans have never sold American free enterprise short--and never will.

The same goes for our farm economy. Its basic features of manpower, . technology and productivity are not only sound--they are the wonder of the world. We must learn how to live with this abundance, and to make government policy help rather than hinder this effort.

By now nearly everyone realizes that high rigid price supports do not work. Actual figures on price movements prove that the farm price index moved down substantially during the period 90 per cent supports were in force, and moved up after more flexible price supports were initiated in 1955.

The Administration has now proposed greater flexibility in the farm program in an effort to bring production into better balance with markets at decent prices to farmers. This is necessary because surpluses are still being generated in some crops and are still depressing prices and imposing losses on farmers and needless burdens on taxpayers.

We have a tremendous education job to do in connection with improving the farm program. There must be an honest, forthright, and sensible attempt to get the farmer out of the vicious circle of building up and disposing of surpluses in which he has been caught since the war period. I think that most farmers, deep in their hearts, recognize the Administration proposals as a courageous move to break this vicious circle. Let's get behind the Administration program.

There's one thing you don't have to do in this country, and that's to apologize for courageously facing up to a tough problem.

As to issues affecting security and international peace, the public has been trying to absorb a mass of figures and charges and speculations that have been poured out in recent months. But, as I have pointed out in several speeches and messages, several facts stand out clearly. We now have a vast and improving defense establishment which, together with that of nations allied with us, performs the function of deterring both global and local war. America has a stiff job ahead of maintaining all kinds of necessary strength in the age of the newer weapons such as missiles. Measures carefully designed to get on with that job are already going forward.

I am giving the modernization of our defense organization my closest personal attention. Everyone concerned, regardless of party, is determined that this country shall get the most efficient defense establishment that human wisdom and experience can devise.

An integral part of our defense is, of course, the far-flung and diversified strength of our friends and allies. There is a clear-cut necessity of maintaining and improving our mutual aid programs and our reciprocal trade legislation--without which even the most elaborate military buildup may well prove nothing but an expensive illusion of security.

The final ingredient of success, among the three I mentioned at the outset, is the stout efforts of an energetic, tireless army of Republican workers.

Once more let me pay my sincerest tribute to the thousands of volunteer political workers who toil, day and night, without compensation, without recognition, without reward except the satisfaction of a contribution well made to good government. Perhaps you and your coworkers sometimes wonder whether your efforts are all worth while, as you plan meetings or ring doorbells or stuff circulars in envelopes.

In my opinion, the voluntary political worker is the very beginning point of the democratic process. The elected candidate is rather like the airplane pilot who has the glamor of soaring aloft in the plane. But we all know the plane would never have gone up but for the skillful work of dozens of people in the ground crew.

Some people say that what a political party needs is a working majority. It's even more important right now to have a majority working.

We're off to a good start. We've had the January 20th meetings, and Young Republican meetings like the group of 250 that is here now. Their President called upon me. He really fired me with his enthusiasm. But he and his thousands of Young Republicans are going to generate a lot more heat than that. Next we have the Lincoln's Birthday rallies that will be held in all parts of the country.

There's an electric atmosphere of confidence and excitement in all these gatherings--a feeling of hardly being able to wait to get on with the battle.

Let me conclude with a little story about Lincoln which illustrates the kind of combination of idealism and practical politics that we should use. On the eve of the 1860 election, word was spread that Lincoln was seeking divine guidance, and someone asked him if he felt his prayers would bring victory. Lincoln replied he hoped that Heaven. would be on his side, "but by thunder," he added quickly, "we're still going to have to carry Kentucky."

Well, we haven't done too badly ourselves in Kentucky lately--and that shows what faith in a cause, good candidates and hard work can do.

Thank you for having me with you this morning, and good luck, as we carry forward the campaign for good government. I am with you all the way.

Note: The President spoke at the Statler Hotel, Washington, D.C., at 8 a.m. The full text of his remarks was not released.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Excerpts From Remarks at Republican National Committee Breakfast. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234000

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