Remarks by the Vice President at the Young America's Foundation Annual National Conservative Student Conference
Well, hello, YAF! (Applause.) Thank you for that warm welcome. To Patrick Coyle and more than 500 young conservatives gathered here from all across the United States, it's my great honor to join you at the Annual National Conservative Student Conference. You are the rising leaders of a generation that is making America great again. (Applause.)
It really is great to be with all of you. But let me begin by mentioning a couple of friends of mine, especially a man who built this organization, really, from scratch over the last 42 years. I watched a lot of it from afar and have had the privilege of being involved in the Young America's Foundation on many occasions around the country and here in our nation's capital.
I know he couldn't be here today, but he helped start this annual conference 41 years ago. He's contributed so much to the cause of freedom and the conservative movement. Would you all — would you all just join me in a warm round of applause to YAF President Ron Robinson? (Applause.) He is a truly great American.
And I know, in a pretty short period of time in the next year or so, Ron is going to be passing the baton of this great organization to another friend of mine who was another Midwestern governor, a champion of individual freedom, and I think one of the most articulate voices for conservative principles in America. So join me in congratulating Governor Scott Walker for stepping up to take the reins — (applause) — of the Young America's Foundation. Congratulations, Scott.
And, finally, let me bring greetings from another friend of mine and a man who I promise you is fighting every single day for the conservative ideals and values that have been at the foundation of this Young America's Movement from the first day of this administration. I bring greetings and admiration from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.) Isn't he something?
I'll tell you: Greatest honor of my life to serve alongside a President who gets up every day to keep the promises that he made to the American people and is renewing the promise of America.
You know, the President said all of you are part of a movement that, in his words, is, quote, "reclaiming your future, rebuilding your country, restoring your destiny, and renewing the values that are the true source of American greatness." So, congratulations to you all. (Applause.) It really is a movement. It really is a movement all across this country.
It elected this President in 2016, but it's a movement that's been turning our nation back to the ideals of our Founders for decades. And the Young America's Foundation has been an indispensable part of that.
For some 50 years, YAF has been a bulwark of the principles of the American founding. YAF was fighting to make America great again, fighting for the values that have always made this nation strong, long before it was cool. (Laughter.)
YAF has been out there fighting for the truths of the American founding, for "individual freedom, [for] a strong national defense, [for] free enterprise, and traditional moral values." And because of your work all across this country, conservative values are winning again. They're winning hearts and minds, and winning on campuses all across America. (Applause.) It's true.
I actually have been involved with YAF since I was first elected to Congress almost 20 years ago. And I don't even want to know where you people were back then. (Laughter.) And it's humbling for me to see the way this organization has grown; the extraordinary contributions that it's made to the life of this nation, including the role that the Young America's Foundation played in saving the Reagan Ranch.
Back in 2005, Karen and I made a trip with our three kids out to the Reagan Ranch. And I have to tell you, I couldn't — I couldn't help but agree with our 40th President: "If it's not heaven, it probably shares the same ZIP Code." (Laughter.) The Reagan Ranch is a national treasure. And the Young America's Foundation is to be commended for preserving it for future generations. (Applause.) It's true.
I mean, the Ranch is where President Reagan signed his historic tax cuts back in 1981; where he hosted heads of state; where he made countless decisions that changed the destiny of our nation in his time and have inspired this generation to do the same.
You know, I was about your all's age during the Reagan Revolution. I came of age in that time. It was a time when there was a President in the White House who was putting into practice the conservative ideals of the American founding; who was putting into practice the economic principles of Milton Friedman, the political philosophy of Russell Kirk.
And I have to tell you, as I look out at all of your bright and shining faces, I can't help but think that you are coming of age in a time just like it. Another outsider who has come to Washington, D.C. to fight for everyday Americans, an outsider who's rebuilding our military, reviving our economy, restoring constitutional principle to our courts. President Donald Trump is leading America back. (Applause.) And yours is the generation that's helped make that possible.
I mean, it's amazing to think — and you got to go back, folks. You got to go back if you — there's an old proverb that says, there's nothing new under the sun; that what is now has been before. But I'll tell you what: If you look back at the days of Ronald Reagan, if you look at the time of the way the media and the political class treated Ronald Reagan when he hit town, it'll come across pretty familiar from the times in which you live today.
The truth of the matter is, back in that day, we had a President who turned his face like flint against the wind and challenged the political class. And I promise you we've got the same kind of strength in President Donald Trump. He's fighting every day to make this country safe and prosperous. And we've already started to drain that swamp! (Applause.) It's true. It's true.
You know, over the last two and a half years, guided by the timeless principles of this conservative movement, under this President's leadership, we've seen a conservative renaissance. I mean, think about it: In just two and a half short years, we've cut taxes, rolled back red tape, unleashed American energy and forged free, and fair, and reciprocal trade deals that are finally putting American jobs and American workers first. (Applause.)
And the results have really been remarkable. I mean, the economy that awaits you on graduation is not only the strongest economy on the face of the Earth, it is the most prosperous economy in the history of this country. (Applause.) That's what we call good timing.
And I just want to encourage all of you folks that see Graduation Day not too far down the road, there are actually more job openings in America today than there are people looking for work. And that's almost never happened.
The truth is, since Election Day, because of the principles that you supported and the leadership you've supported from the White House to the Congress to statehouses across the country, businesses large and small across this country have created more than 6 million new jobs.
The unemployment rate has hit a 50-year low. (Applause.) And we've seen the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans. The American Dream is working again for every American. (Applause.)
And I have to tell you, also, wages are rising at the fastest pace they have in more than 10 years. More Americans are working today than ever before.
And I know — I know it means it's particularly important to the President that wages are rising most rapidly for working families, for blue-collar Americans. I mean, the truth of the matter is that the fastest wage increase are people that are going to work at our factories and plants across the country. In a word, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. This economy is working for everybody. (Applause.)
You know, I saw that the other day. Karen and I slipped away for a little vacation time; it was like two days. (Laughter.) But we were sitting on a beach just outside Fort Myers, Florida. I had a ball cap on and sunglasses. And these two fellas walked by, both wearing Budweiser t-shirts. (Applause.) Tattoos on their arms. Okay. (Laughter.)
And this fella stopped and he looked at me, and he said, "You're Vice President Pence, aren't you?" And I said, "Yes, sir. I am." And he said — he stopped and he looked at me, and he said, "Will you tell the President that I made twice as much money last year as I made the year before? And he just needs to keep doing what he's doing because it's working." (Applause.) It's true.
And then he took two steps away, and he turned back around, and he said to me, "And I don't know what you do, but you keep doing what you're doing, too." (Laughter and applause.) And I told him, "Count on it." We're going to keep fighting to make this economy work. (Applause.)
I mean, the truth is, you look around America, folks — jobs are back. Confidence is back. In a word, America is back. But we're just getting started, YAF! (Applause.)
But beyond this growing economy, I'm proud to report, as the father of a United States Marine — (applause) — this President — this President has worked from day one to make the strongest military in the history of the world stronger still. Under President Trump's leadership, we've already seen the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. And with that renewed American strength, the United States is once again embracing our role as leader of the free world.
I mean, how great is it to have a President who is standing up for America on the world stage instead of apologizing for America to the world? How great is it? (Applause.) It's true.
I mean, under President Trump's leadership, we're standing with our allies and we're standing up to our enemies. The truth is, our NATO allies are contributing more to our common defense than ever before.
And last year, you saw this President stand with our most cherished ally when he kept a promise that four administrations had made before him, and he moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel. (Applause.)
So, we've been growing the economy, we've been providing for the national defense, and we've been standing up for our values at home and abroad.
You know, this President has actually appointed more judges to our federal courts of appeals in the last two years than any President in American history. And they are all principled conservatives who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. (Applause.) Like the freedom of religion. (Applause.) Like the freedom of speech. (Applause.) And like the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.)
So, men and women, we've stood for liberty, for the rule of law, for the foundation of our constitutional liberties — all the things that Young America's Foundation has been all about since its founding.
And I have to tell you, beyond all of that, I couldn't be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who stands without apology for sanctity of human life. (Applause.) President Donald Trump is the most pro-life President in American history. (Applause.)
And, you know, YAF has been an indispensable partner in these efforts over the last two and a half years. And I really wanted to come by just to commend you and also to tell you that our work is far from done. But the work you've done has truly been inspiring.
For instance, in 2017, the University of California, Berkeley, a state school which remarkably was the home of the Free Speech movement in the 1960s, tried to restrict conservative organizations from hosting speakers. But it was the men and women of YAF who stood up. You fought this policy. You took it to court. And when you did, this administration stood with you. (Applause.)
And last December, after more than a year of litigation, we won. UC Berkeley changed its policies on freedom of speech because of all of you. Well done, YAF. (Applause.)
But when it comes to freedom of speech, the Trump administration and YAF are standing shoulder-to-shoulder and we always will. This administration has filed briefs in three other campus free speech cases. And in every case, the courts have either agreed with our position or the schools have changed their policies.
And under this administration, I promise you, with the strong support and leadership of Young America's Foundation, freedom is winning on campuses all across America, and we are not going to stop until the freedom of speech is restored on every campus in this land. (Applause.)
So, the past two and a half years have been two years of action. They've been two years of results. We've been acting on conservative principles — the principles that we share and we cherish. It's been about jobs and prosperity. It's been about security at home and abroad. And it's been about fundamental liberties, strengthening America each and every day.
This President has led this movement and led this nation back. But that's just what this President likes to call a "good start." (Laughter.) It's been two and a half years where we've seen a tremendous renewal of our country, our economy, of our confidence. But the truth is, as I stand before all of you today, I also want to challenge you because we've got a lot more work to do.
And to this rising generation of conservative leaders from all across America, let me just say, thanks for showing up. You picked a great time to be in this fight. But this is your moment.
To finish what we started, President Trump and I are counting on all of you. We need your voices and we need your energy. We need your vision as never before.
And America was founded on a very simple principle, and that principle was freedom. But in recent years, the once-universal support in America for freedom, free market economics, and unalienable rights, has fallen to our movement and our party.
As we saw in last night's debate, before the first hour was over, leading Democrats advocated a government takeover of healthcare, open borders, free healthcare to illegal immigrants, and raising taxes on the middle class to pay for it.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And before the night was over, all of the leading Democrats argued for decriminalizing illegal immigration, the Green New Deal, gun control, and abortion. But today —
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But today, the headlines across the country say that the story last night was that moderates in the Democratic Party were pushing back in the debate. You know, it's pretty amazing what the media calls "moderates" these days. (Laughter.)
Last night's Democratic debate wasn't between moderates and liberals; it was between liberals and socialists. And that's the Democratic Party today. (Applause.)
It really is remarkable to see leading Democrats openly advocating an economic system that has impoverished millions around the world and robbed the liberties of generations. That system is socialism.
But it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world.
It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as a beacon of hope for all the world. (Applause.)
It was freedom, not socialism, that is moving us beyond the prejudices of the past to create a more perfect union and extend the blessings of liberty to every American regardless of race or creed or color.
I want to say to this rising generation, the moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment America ceases to be America. So we must say in this movement, with one voice, as President Trump said in his State of the Union Address, "America will never be a socialist country." (Applause.) Had to do it. I had to say it.
You know, there's a — Margaret Thatcher probably said it best. She said, "The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money." (Laughter.)
And the truth is, what we all know is Medicare for All means quality healthcare for none. And the only thing green about the Green New Deal is how much green it's going to cost all of us if they ever pass it into law.
You know, there's an old saying that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Socialism has been tried in dozens of countries all over the world, from Venezuela to North Korea. And socialism has never worked before. It doesn't work now. And the American people should reject socialism and embrace freedom with renewed energy and vigor. And I know we will. (Applause.)
And the truth is, men and women, the choice facing this country in the next 15 months has never been clearer, and the stakes have never been higher. I mean, we made great progress in the last two and half years, but as the President said not long ago, all of that could change with one election night.
So now is the time for us to redouble our efforts — to redouble our efforts to support men and women at every level who are supporting the timeless ideals that have always made this country great and are making this country great again. And it's time to make sure that President Donald Trump gets four more years in the White House. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So to this rising generation of American leaders, you're here because you know that your future is inextricably tied to the future of this country. The future of this country depends on what we do over these next 15 months.
As President Reagan used to say, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." And I know you all know that here. And I know that you'll bring that energy and that determination — that great American spirit that's been present throughout the generations since the founding of this country — to the cause in the days ahead.
As I stand before you today, I see a remarkable group. I think about all that YAF has done over the last 50 years to renew and strengthen the foundations of this nation. And I'm confident. I'm confident we're going to continue to build on the progress that we've made.
But, men and women of YAF, you're the future of conservatism in America. Make no mistake about it. And as I look out across this crowd, I know the future of conservatism in America is bright. (Applause.)
You're not just the future leaders of a movement though, you're leaders right now. And I want you to know that. I want you to know we're counting on you.
There's going to be challenges ahead, so my admonition to each one of you this morning is: Prepare yourselves. Prepare your minds for action. In the days ahead, it will not be sufficient for us simply to win the next election. We need to win the next generation. (Applause.)
Each one of you has a role to play in your generation. Go and tell freedom's story, and make sure that the siren song of socialism doesn't take hold in the hearts of your generation; that the freedom that is our birthright as Americans is preserved and expanded and is a beacon of hope for all the world.
But no one can speak to your generation quite as effectively as you can. And so I want to challenge you. In the words of the late Russell Kirk, to this rising generation: "Redeem the time." To redeem the time, renew your mind. Be men and women of discipline and conviction. Understand the foundations of this country. Take time to read and study. Sit down with a mentor that you admire, who understands the roots of American greatness. And simply listen and take notes. Find your role in freedom's story, and play it. Because this is your time.
And I leave here today with renewed faith. And I want you to have faith in the days ahead. Faith in the principles of the American founding, enshrined in our Declaration and our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.
Have faith in the leaders, from this President and conservatives in Congress and statehouses all across the land; courageous men and women who are defending the freedom and the values that have always made this country great and are making this country great again.
Have faith in the American people — that if we hold the banner of freedom high, if we put into practice those words that are carved into the Liberty Bell to "proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof," the American people will rally to our cause, just as they've always done.
And finally, have faith in Him who placed this miracle of democracy on these wilderness shores so many centuries ago, that when we make freedom our cause, we're making His work on this Earth our own. For where the spirit of the Lord is, there's freedom. That means freedom always wins. (Applause.)
So, men and women of YAF, let's keep on fighting. (Applause.) Let's keep on winning. (Applause.) And with your support, with conservatives elected, with statehouses and Congress across this country, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God's help, we will renew this nation. We will strengthen the foundations of America. (Applause.) We will make America more prosperous and secure than ever before. And we will keep making America great again. (Applause.)
Thank you very much. (Applause.) God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President at the Young America's Foundation Annual National Conservative Student Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/334264