Richard Nixon photo

Remarks in Uniondale, New York

October 23, 1972

Governor Rockefeller, all of the distinguished guests here on the platform, and all of you here in this great audience here in Nassau:

Four years ago I had the privilege of attending the windup rally in the State of New York in the new Madison Square Garden. I thought then that I would never see a bigger or a better crowd. I want to say tonight that here in Nassau, in this new stadium, this is the biggest and best rally, Joe Margiotta,1 that I have ever seen,

And there is something else that is new here. There is this great, enormous number of people in front of me. I see you and I know that you are young people. Four years ago, at your age, you could not vote. But predictions were made that the young voters will be on the other side. Let me say a majority of America's young voters are going to be on our side this year.

Governor Rockefeller, you have introduced me very generously. I want to say this to the great audience here in the State of New York that we had a ceremony on Friday in Philadelphia where an historic bill providing for revenue sharing was signed. Credit was given on that occasion to mayors and Governors and Congressmen and Senators. I want you to know that Governor Rockefeller deserves the major credit. Without him, we would not have revenue sharing today, and my hat is off to him for it.

Now, tonight, as we are just 2 weeks away from the election, I want to talk to you about something that perhaps at this stage in a campaign you seldom hear. You know that there are great differences between those who are seeking the office for the Presidency today. You know that those differences are honestly held by both men. You know, too, that the choice that is to be made is one that is bigger than party. It is one that is as big as America itself.

That is the reason why this year not only Republicans but millions of Democrats and independents are joining us, because they are voting for what is best for America.

Tonight I want to talk to you about what those Four More Years can mean to America. I do not want to talk about those fears and hates that divide America. I want you, all of us in this country and this great rally, to address ourselves to the hopes and to the dreams that unite America, that unite us, whatever our party, whatever our background. Let us, as Americans, look at the future of this country, and let us work for and vote for what we think is best for this country.

Let me begin, if I may, with, I know, a subject that is much in the minds, as it should be, of particularly the young people here. That is the situation with regard to the chance to have something we have not had in this country in this whole century--a full generation of peace.

In speaking to that subject, you will remember the situation when we came into office. You will recall that we had had no negotiation whatever of significance with the country or the government that had the biggest number of people in the world, the People's Republic of China. You will recall that we were in constant confrontation, rather than negotiation, with the Soviet Union, the other great super power.

I do not contend tonight that in these past 4 years we have accomplished the millennium, but I do say this, and I think history will record that this is the case: Because of the progress we have made, progress in ending the war in Vietnam with honor and not surrender, because of the trips that I was able to take early in the year to Peking and later in the spring to Moscow, the year 1972 will go down as the year in which more progress was made toward real peace in the world than any year since World War II.

I do not stand on that record, because it is something to build on. Let us see what kind of a world we can build looking to the future.

Let me tell you why, for example, the arms control agreement that we have reached with the Soviet Union, important as it was, is only a beginning. It was a limited agreement. We announced just a few days ago that we are going to have more negotiations in November with the Soviet Union for the limitation on all offensive nuclear weapons, as well as defensive weapons. These will be difficult negotiations, but you can be sure that we have laid the foundation for pursuing them, and we believe that we have some experience for knowing how to bring them about in a successful way.

You also know from having followed your papers and your television and your radio that an historic trade agreement has been reached between the Soviet Union and the United States. That does not mean instantly that there is going to be an enormous increase in trade between two countries with entirely different economic systems, but it does mean that these two great peoples, the Russian people and the American people, can turn more to the works of peace and less to the works of war, and that is what we want.

It means, above everything else, that as we have trade with the Soviet Union now, trade in the years ahead with the People's Republic of China, as well as trade with other nations in the world, the chance for you, all of you wonderful young people today throughout America to have a better life, and the chance for other people in the world to have a better life, is greatly increased.

Let me put it in another context. You may have seen in the papers pictures in the Oval Office at the White House that no one even a year ago would have dreamed would have been possible. Fifteen doctors from the People's Republic of China were there. Two were women, 12 were men. Another was a specialist in a certain area of science related to medicine. We discussed what they had come to America for. I do not suggest that because 15 Chinese doctors from the Communist People's Republic of China have visited the United States that this means we are going to have instant peace and no disagreement between two countries with entirely different philosophies and with many differences in interests. But let me tell you what I think it does mean.

I remember talking on a long car ride one day with one of the three top leaders of the People's Republic of China. He told me about one of his closest friends who had just died with cancer. He said he had read in the papers of the new initiative we had in this country for finding a cure for cancer. We know it is not easy, but I have determined that whatever money is required will be spent for this, and we are working on it. And he said, "Wouldn't it be a very fine thing for both countries if our doctors could work together, not separately, to try to find the cure for this disease?"

Then I pointed out to him something that may be even surprising to you, unless you have suffered from this dread disease in your own family. More people died of cancer in the United States last year than the United States lost in killed in action in all of World War II. Now what I am saying is this: I say that an initiative that will have Russian doctors and Chinese doctors and American doctors working together is good, because the genius that will find the answer to that dread disease and other diseases, it may not be in America, it may be in Russia, it may be in China, it may be in Latin America. But you can be sure we now have started on the road to get the doctors of the world, regardless of philosophy, working together on this dread disease, rather than against each other.

Now, in order to continue to make progress in making this a safer world, a safer world when the two super powers, the Soviet Union and the United States, will negotiate rather than confront each other, will limit their arms rather than engage in an arms race, in order also to make this a safer world so that the people, one-fourth of all the people of the world who live in the People's Republic of China can cooperate in some areas with the United States, let me just tell you my philosophy.

I know what the great danger is that hangs over the world: the danger of nuclear war. I know the great differences in philosophies between the Communist systems and ours, and I say that it is time that we develop, between governments, the United States and other governments, some understandings. Because this is my desire for you, all of the people of this country, but particularly this new, young generation: Let us build a world in which, despite differences of philosophy between governments, despite differences between governments, the people of the world can be friends wherever they may be.

Now, to accomplish this goal, if we want to play the role that we want to, to lead to this generation of peace, the United States must continue to maintain the kind of defense that will command respect throughout the world. That is why I oppose such programs as would make the United States have the second strongest Navy, the second strongest Air Force, because let me tell you something: There is no other nation in the free world that can deter aggression around the world.

Let me tell you something else: The small nations in the world, like those in the Mideast and in other parts of the world, that depend on the United States for their survival, those small nations, if the United States is ever the second strongest power in the world, would be living in deadly danger. I pledge to you, we shall keep the United States in a position second to none in its national defense, because we know we will use it for peace.

If, also, the United States is to be able to play this role, a role in which we are building peace for all the world, which I know all Americans want us to do, it is also essential that we develop within our Armed Forces the kind of spirit, the kind of volunteerism which we will need, because, as you know, one of the great accomplishments of this Administration which has been little noticed, except among those who might be of draft age, is that in June of next year we move away from the draft to the all-volunteer army.

I also want to tell you here in this heart of America because this is the heart of America, as has already been indicated by Joe Margiotta and Governor Rockefeller--I want to tell you that if we are to have an all-volunteer army, it is not going to be enough to do what we are going to do, pay them equally what they can get in civilian life, because anybody who serves in our Armed Forces in peacetime or in wartime, but particularly even in peacetime, above everything else, deserves respect. I believe in respecting the uniform of those who defend the United States.

This is Veterans Day. I have just motorcaded all through Westchester. I have seen the great bands that are here. I have heard the patriotic songs. At Eastchester I laid the first wreath at the new War Memorial that had been erected there. As I laid the wreath and stood back for the moment of silence, this thought crossed my mind as I thought of that volunteer army: The thought was that instead of having all of this talk about providing amnesty for those that desert America, let's honor those who served America, the millions.

So I can say to you, looking to the future, the road will not be easy, but I see the best chance that we have had in this century for young Americans to have a generation of peace, and I dedicate myself to do everything we can to bring that about.

There is a second great goal. That means that with peace you want jobs. What we want is something we have not had since President Eisenhower was President in '55 and '56. That means full prosperity, full employment without war and without inflation, and we are going to have that.

At the present time, you can have confidence in the fact that the United States today has the fastest rate of growth, the lowest rate of inflation, of any major industrial power in the world.

But that isn't good enough. We must continue to hold the line on prices. If we are going to continue to have growth in our economy, we must stop that kind of spending that would lead to a tax increase in this country, because taxes are already too high and we are going to keep those taxes from going up.

If we are going to continue to have progress, progress that will mean more jobs for more Americans than ever before in history, we must provide, of course, every kind of assistance that we possibly can to those that cannot help themselves, but there must be no ceiling on opportunity in America, no ceiling by quota or any other way. Let a man or woman, regardless of his background, go as high as he can. That is the way to build a great economy in America.

And while I am talking on that subject, if we are going to continue to have this economy grow and expand, to provide the new jobs that we want, let's understand that there is no real conflict when we talk about welfare versus work. Let us understand: Every American wants to provide welfare to the greatest extent possible to those who cannot help themselves. But let us also understand: Except for the taxes paid by 82 million Americans who work, there would be no welfare in the United States, so we must not penalize those who work.

I would suggest tonight an Eleventh Commandment: No one who is able to work shall find it more profitable to go on welfare than to go to work. That is the kind that we should have.

Looking to that future too, we are going to continue to make progress in the field that I discussed on national radio last week, and that means in restoring respect for law and order and justice. That means in continuing a massive drive on dangerous drugs and narcotics we need your help, and in that respect may I suggest something tonight? As I have gone through Westchester and now tonight, I have seen many men in blue, the uniforms of the police. Give them the backing and the respect they deserve for the job that they do.

On my part, I will say to you that any appointments that I have the opportunity to make to the courts of this land or to the law enforcement officials of this land, as has been the case in the last 4 years, you can be sure that the age of permissiveness is gone. We are not going to have room for more permissive judges.

In addition, and I particularly address this to those of you who have all of your future ahead, how fortunate you are to live in this country, in this place, to be here. It is not just enough to have peace. It is not just enough to have a job. You must have a goal. That means you want this country to be better. You want it to progress. Let me tell you that in the field of health, in the field of education, in the field of welfare, in the field of environment, we laid before the Congress in 1970, again in 1971, and early this year, 1972, as Governor Rockefeller will agree, historic new programs of reform. They are needed. The Congress has not acted. But I can assure you, give us your vote on November 7, and we will get the Congress to act next year.

When the next 4 years end, as all of you know, America will celebrate its 200th birthday. It will be the oldest democracy in the world. It will have lived longer than any other one. The question is: What will we be then? What will we have done and what will we mean to the world? I believe that we can be and should be certainly the strongest nation in the world. I believe that without question we will be the richest nation in the world. But we would still possibly not be a great people unless we had something else.

Let me take you back 196 years. There in Independence Hall the thought ran through my mind, what a wonderful country it was so many years ago, and yet it was weak and it was poor, only 3 million people and 13 States. But America had something then. Its people loved this country. It had an ideal and because its people so loved this country, that ideal caught the imagination of the world, and America, from the time of its beginning, has been the hope of the world.

I just want to say to you, I have been to 80 countries. I have been to all of the 50 States. You hear what is wrong with America. Let me say, you and all the world can be thankful that it is America that has the power that we have because we do not threaten the peace of any other nation and we will never do so.

Let me say to you, too, I see here a sign, "Croatia." I was in Zagreb. I saw on a rainy day 500,000 people cheering-what?--not me as an individual, because there in Yugoslavia, in Croatia, they did not know me as an individual. But to them the United States meant something more than military power and economic strength. It meant a great ideal.

I want to say to all of this great audience, and particularly to the young ones who are here: Be proud of your country. If you ever go abroad and travel as I have and as Mrs. Nixon and I have together, when you come back you will say, we are the most fortunate people in the world to live in the United States of America.

I do not contend that the United States is perfect. The American revolution will never end. It is a continuing revolution, and the glory of it is that peacefully we can change the things we do not like, but stay to the good values. Remember that it was not just military and material might that built America. It was our spiritual and moral strength, and never let this Nation lose that spiritual and moral strength that has made us what we are.

To all of this great audience---and as I look at this audience, let me say, I have never had so many people behind me-my friends, here in the State of New York, in the county of Nassau, may I leave this final thought with you? I know what you want for the next 4 years. I will tell you what I want. I want the next 4 years to be the best 4 years of your lives.

Thank you.

1 Joseph M. Margiotta was New York State Assemblyman and chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee.

Note: The President spoke at 9: 10 p.m. at a rally in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. He spoke without referring to notes.

Richard Nixon, Remarks in Uniondale, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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