Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, Southern Illinois University, Mcandrew Stadium, Carbondale, IL
As I look to you today and as I think of the many sections of this State that are represented; as I think, for example, that a group of approximately 2,000 schoolteachers from this area are present I realize that there are many problems that you would like to have discussed on an occasion like this. Obviously, because of our very tight schedule, you know, getting around 50 States, which we intend to do, we trust, during this campaign making all the stops you want to make is quite a job. But under the circumstances we have to limit the number of subjects talked about to those of greatest general interest. But here particularly there are some subjects that I know will be of interest to everybody - not only to those in this great university community in which I am proud to appear but also among those who come from the countryside, those who may be in agriculture, in industry, in mining, or whatever industry is represented in this great audience today. And I think, above all, if I were to select one subject that is of greatest interest to Americans today, it is the subject of the survival of the Nation, survival of our freedom, survival without war, keeping the peace without surrender.
I know that sometimes when we mention this subject there are those who might think for a moment that these policies that are made in Washington and in Geneva and in Moscow and the like are very far away; that there isn't much we can do about it out here in Illinois; that there isn't much, therefore, we should be concerned about; that, after all, the President and the Secretary of State and the Vice President will work these things out, one way or the other, and we're going to have to live with whatever solution is worked out.
But, my friends, the time is past in the United States when foreign policy was simply the concern of the President and his advisers. The time is past in the United States when interest in foreign policy was limited to those who live on our great seacoasts and who, therefore, had more of a feeling of communication with the lands across the sea. The time is past when people in the great central part of this country looked upon foreign policy as something they would rather not discuss - the so-called isolationist sentiment that existed or used to exist or was supposed to exist in this part of the country.
Today foreign policy is the concern of every American. We can find solutions and the very best solutions to the farm problem, to the education problem, to the housing problem, to the budget problem, anything you name. But if we aren't able to solve the foreign policy problem it isn't going to make any difference because we aren't going to be around to enjoy the solutions.
So I say to you today that I discuss that problem first because it is vital, because we must find :in answer to that before anything else. It is vital to everybody in this audience, to everybody in this Nation today.
There was a time when I could point, for example, to these beautiful young ladies around me, who have escorted Pat and me to this platform, the young ladies from southern Illinois, most of whom, incidentally, are going to be teachers, and say to them: Well, obviously, you are concerned about foreign policy because those who are your future husbands are those who will have to fight the wars in which this country might be engaged.
But, my friends, we know today it is much bigger than that. This country has been blessed, blessed by the fact that war has never been visited upon us. But anybody who has seen devastation in the cities abroad - in London as I saw it in 1947, in Berlin as I saw it in 1947, in northern Italy where there was considerable devastation in Milan and Sorrento, in southeast Asia - anybody who sees what war does when it comes to a country realizes that we have been fortunate that our only contact with it has been when our young men have gone abroad to fight for freedom and for peace.
The next war will not be that way. I don't need to tell you that. No country is going to escape, not even the United States and, incidentally, not, certainly, the Soviet Union.
So, turning to the point, what can we do? What can we do to keep the peace? What can we do to keep it without surrender? What can we do to extend freedom? What can we do to extend freedom without war? Why do these two concepts that I mention - keeping the peace without surrender and extending freedom without war - go together? I'll tell you why. Because those who are the enemies of peace and those who are the enemies of freedom are the same people.
I refer to the Communist leaders. I know them. I have talked to Mr. Khrushchev, to Mikoyan, to Kozlov, to Gromyko, to leaders of the Communist world all over the world. And I can tell you, having talked to them, and having seen their faces, knowing their dedication, that these are men who, whatever their views on other subjects may be, are consumed, literally consumed, with a dedication to conquering the world for communism.
Now, at the present time the Soviet bloc follows the line that they will accomplish that objective without war. And we would hope that they would continue along that line. But, make no mistake about it, if you read closely what they say, they say, "We will conquer the world without war, and we think we can, but our objective is to conquer the world - period - and to use any means that are necessary."
And, so, when you are confronted with men like that you have to have men on our side of the conference table who know them, men who are not going to be taken in by them, men who are just as tough as they are, men who are just as firm for the right as they are firm for the wrong. That's the kind of leadership America needs.
I can only tell you that my colleague, Cabot Lodge, and I know what this job demands. For 7½ years we have sat with the President in the National Security Council and in the Cabinet. We have participated in discussions leading to the great decisions in those 7½ years.
You say: "What does that prove?" And I say it proves this: Under the leadership of the President we got the Nation out of one war, we've kept it out of others, and we have peace without surrender today.
Cabot Lodge and I both know the Communist leaders. He, like myself, has had the experience of sitting across the conference table with them. And, therefore, you know what we will do. You know, I think, how we will react. You know, certainly, we aren't going to be taken in. And may I say in that connection that the reason I bring his name into this is that this job of keeping the peace must be a full-time one, not only for the President, but for the Vice President, for the Secretary of State and, for that matter, for all of the American people, for reasons that I could well expand upon.
I pledge to you today that Cabot Lodge and I will work together, that I will see to it that he, to the extent that his duties permit, will continue to work in the cause of peace, as he has so magnificently done in the past 7½ years at the United Nations.
We will strengthen the instruments of peace. That means the United Nations and the Organization of American States and NATO. It means also developing new instruments of peace. It means going the second mile, as President Eisenhower has so eloquently stated, to attempt to work out the differences we have between the Communist world and the free world.
But it also means recognizing that the way to war is paved with a naive attitude that, if you surrender or abandon this or that little island of freedom any place in the world, then that leads to peace, America and the world have learned, in dealing with Hitler, one dictator, that the moment you feed a dictator's appetite by giving in to his demands for territory that you never satisfy it, that you only encourage it and stimulate it. We learned it in Korea, where there again a wellintentioned Secretary of State said we would surrender, in effect, or certainly we will not defend, a certain area, South Korea, which was in the area of freedom.
The result: It didn't lead to peace. It led, as you know, to the war which we had. And I say that America had enough of that kind of policy in 1953. We don't want any more of it now, and Cabot Lodge and I assure you we are not going to have any more of it.
I want to make one thing very clear: My opponent is just as dedicated to peace. He is just as dedicated against communism as I am and as my colleague. The point that I want to make with regard to him is that it is not a question of what you intend. The question is what you can accomplish. And I want to say in this respect that based on his conduct during this campaign, where on three critical issues he disagreed with the President, on Quemoy and Matsu, on the Cuban situation, on the President's conduct at the Paris Conference, in which he declined to apologize or express regrets to Khrushchev, if he had made those mistakes as President they would have been disastrous to the very cause with which we are concerned. People may say: "But he's changed his mind. He didn't mean it." My friends, when the President of the United States makes a decision there isn't, a chance, many times, to change your mind, to second guess it. You cannot be rash. You cannot be impulsive. You've got to be right the first time.
I'm not suggesting that anybody is going to be right all the time. I do suggest, though, that what we must do is to be sure, as sure as we can, that the leaders we have, and based on the experience they have, will not make the mistakes, out of best intentions, which my opponent has indicated he might have made if he had been President.
Let me turn now to other considerations. We not only, of course, want a peaceful world. We want a good world. We want a world in which life can be better for our children than it has been for ourselves. That's the American attitude. My father always used to say he never wanted to go back to the good old days, because he remembered how hard they were. He always used to say, too, that he wasn't satisfied. He never told us, "Look, you've got it pretty good these days." I remember what he used to say. He used to say that in America what makes this country great is that we always want to move forward.
Now, my friends, let's get one thing straight today. You've heard a lot in this campaign to the effect that American education is second, that our science is second. You've heard about this, that, and the other thing with regard to America's economy, that it's running down, it has been standing still, that the Soviets are going to catch up with us.
Let's get one thing straight. There are things wrong with American education. There are things wrong with American science. Certainly we can move forward in the economy. But let's keep the record straight. America hasn't been standing still. She has been moving forward. And let's also keep the record straight on this: We can be thankful that in America we have the best education, the best science, and the most productive economy in the world.
Now, let me speak to the point of education. What can we do at the Federal level? What can we do to improve education in America? I have announced programs. I would just like to cover them very briefly since this is a university audience, or at least a university community in which all the audience, of course, is interested in this subject. I would like to cover briefly what I believe on this subject.
First, we have got to get in our school system at the primary and secondary level the kind of support which will enable our various school districts to raise the standards of education generally in America. And this means raising standards for our teachers as far as salaries are concerned. It means providing the necessary buildings where those buildings are the primary need. It means increasing the standards as far as operation standards are concerned, if that's the problem.
Now, how do you get at it? The best way to get at it, I think, is through a Federal program which does not make the mistake of aiding the local States or communities and then getting the power to control what is taught in our school system. That's why I have said over and over again that the answer to education - and here there is no question at all about Federal control - is through aid to school construction. Because when you aid school construction your local districts, your States, can use the money the best way, the way in which it is most needed: to raise teachers' salaries. That generally is the major need.
Now, how do you get at it? The best way to get at it, I think, is the boys who will be marrying them and I have been thinking of what may happen to them, how they got there.
I was talking recently to Father Hesburgh of Notre Dame. You know what he told me? He said that over a hundred young men who had been valedictorians of their class had applied for scholarships to Notre Dame last year and couldn't get them. Now, whether they went to college or not I do not know. Many of them may not have. The point I am making is this: I remember the biggest day in my own life, other than the day, of course, I met Pat. The biggest day was when I received a letter telling me that I was going to get a scholarship to study law at Duke University. If I hadn't gotten that letter I wouldn't be here today.
Now, what am I trying to say? Here we have young people who are fortunate. You are going to college, to universities. You have the opportunity which many hundreds of thousands of young Americans, who may be able, as you are, do not have. My friends, we can't afford this waste. We can't afford it from the standpoint of the country and it isn't right as far as the individuals are concerned. America needs to develop to the fullest the talents of any young man or woman who is qualified to go to college. And I've got a program that will do that very thing.
What is the answer? Let me tell you what it is. The easy answer is to say: "Well, this hasn't worked out. Individuals haven't solved this problem. The States haven't solved it. So, we'll set up a Federal program that will do it all. The Federal Government will have loans and scholarships, and that will solve the whole thing."
But that's the wrong way to do it, and I'll tell you why. There's a better way and I'll tell you why. The Federal Government has funds which can be expended under the proper circumstances and my program includes that.. The Federal Government has a program for those who would not be able to pay back loans even if they should receive them. Third, there is another category that is completely left out from those two that I have described. There must be in this great audience - and certainly there must be among the parents of these girls here in front of us - many who have worked and saved, as my father did, so that they could help their children go to school, as I was helped, because a scholarship alone wasn't enough. I remember my mother used to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to bake pies. That's one of the things that helped. They were sold in our country store.
Now, my friends, how can we help Americans to help themselves? There is a way. I say what we ought to do is to give a tax credit or a tax deduction to parents or others who pay tuition or other expenses for their children to go to college.
I could give other illustrations. The point that I want to make is this: This is the American approach.
The easy approach is to say: Pass it all over to Washington.
But the right approach is, whenever you can, to rely on and to encourage individual responsibility. That is what has made America.
My last point: I was often thinking as we came up the Illinois Central tracks today what must go through the minds of people as they see me and my wife standing on the back of the platform, looking at these tremendous audiences as I see this one today. And I suppose they would normally think: "My, this election is important to those two. They have worked hard."
And, therefore, they would not be surprised when I say that this election is the most important election in the country's history. My friends, it is important to us from a personal standpoint, but that isn't what matters. What happens to me, what happens to Senator Kennedy, is not particularly important. What happens to America, what happens to peace, what happens to the cause of freedom, what happens to progress, progress without war, prosperity without inflation - what happens in all these fields - that is important.
So, I urge all of you today, whatever you are, Democrats or Republicans: Think before you vote. Think in terms not of the party labels. Think in terms not of the individuals and what happens to us. But think in terms of what America needs. This is what the world needs, nothing less. 'This is what our Nation needs, and nothing less.
I am convinced as I stand here, having visited over 50 countries in the last 7 years, knowing America, knowing the great forces that are coming together in the world, that these next 4 years may be decisive in the history not only of America but of the world. And we can settle for nothing but the best leadership that this Nation can produce. You know what that leadership is. I cannot tell you. If you believe that ours is the leadership that America needs, then I ask you to go out and work for us as you have never worked before, remembering that you will not be working just for a man or a party but that you will be working for what is best for the Nation. This is the least that America requires of its citizens today.
And to all of you again our deep appreciation for bringing us here, for allowing us to come to this university campus and to see so many of you vitally interested in America on this magnificent day.
Richard Nixon, Remarks of the Vice President of the United States, Southern Illinois University, Mcandrew Stadium, Carbondale, IL Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273932