McClintock is an expert on matters of the State budget and fiscal
discipline. He is a Senator in the California State Legislature
and ran for Controller on the Republican ticket in 2002. His valuable
website is found at www.tommclintock.com
A speech delivered to Young America's Foundation...
[Tom McClintock] 12/16/03
I want to
begin by thanking all of you for your stalwart support—not
only for my own recent campaign—but also for all you have
done—year after year—for the cause of freedom. YAF
has always been that reliable—and essential—"anchor
to windward" that has kept the Republican party properly
positioned as the party of liberty no matter which way the political
winds have blown.
a good thing, too, because today those political winds are
than ever before. The events of the
last several weeks here in California have been truly stunning—and
at moments like this one can only stand back in awe.
significance of events is difficult to judge close up, but
I will venture
a guess that the election of October
7th will be seen as one of the great climacterics in California's
history—and possibly the nation's.
California has had the recall in its constitution for 92 years.
In those 92 years, 31 attempts were made to recall a governor.
None had come even close to qualifying.
Just eleven months ago, Democrats swept every constitutional
office in California for the first time since 1882. And yet,
just a few months later, this recall qualified with TWICE the
required number of signatures with five weeks remaining in the
said that the only reason the recall qualified was that that
the required signatures. Wait a second.
155,000 Californians carried recall petitions. Three thousand
were paid. The other 152,000 were acting in their capacity as
citizens. And how else do you explain the fact that two million
signatures were collected—including a half a million AFTER
the paid gatherers were sent home?
More than 30 percent of the signers to recall a twice-elected
Democratic incumbent were registered Democrats.
this stunning development: In a state where 35 percent of the
registered Republicans, the two major Republican
candidates took a combined 62 percent of the vote—twice
that cast for the Democrat.
Could it be that Californians have finally figured out that
socialism hasn't worked any better here than anywhere else it
has been tried?
And let us
look carefully at that race. The conventional wisdom is that
election was a victory for the
so-called "moderates" of the Republican Party. Well
whatever Arnold Schwarzenegger's personal views might be, he
certainly didn't campaign as a moderate. He campaigned as a Milton
Friedman supply-side tax-fighting budget-cutting re-incarnation
of Ronald Reagan.
It was a
great frustration to me—but a great victory to
the conservative cause—that the key themes that I outlined
at the outset of my campaign were rapidly adopted and promoted
by Mr. Schwarzenegger: abolish the car tax, restore freedom to
the electricity market, and roll back the regulations that are
choking our economy—starting with workers compensation.
This was the foundation of his contract with California, a contract
that must be—and will be honored.
So I believe
that we can be proud of the fact that our campaign acted as
conscience of the election—and framed the
issues upon which the contest was ultimately decided—the
issues which a combined 62 percent of Californians supported.
another fact: Consistently—in every poll conducted—voters
said they viewed the Republican candidates in a positive light—ironically,
I had the highest positive rating in every poll.
candidates they said they viewed in a negative light—by
wide margins, were Bustamante, Davis and Peter Camejo of the
Camejo I came to know as a perfect gentleman. There is not
bone in his body. People were rejecting his
liberal ideology—as they were embracing ours.
Let me repeat: those who campaigned as conservatives were overwhelmingly
viewed favorably by voters. Those who campaigned as liberals
were overwhelmingly viewed unfavorably by voters.
So you can't
call California the "Left Coast" any
more. Welcome back to Reagan Country.
this election has proven what has always been obvious to us—conservatism is not only right—it's
However, tonight I must bring a new challenge to you as conservative
leaders. Now we must convince many of our fellow conservatives
From the outset of the race, we confronted a mantra that went
something like this: Even though we agree with McClintock on
practically everything, he just can't win and we can't afford
to split the Republican vote.
When I was
accused—even by conservatives—of being
a spoiler in the race—my standard line was, the people
aren't going to recall a governor for policies that have bankrupted
our state and then elect another Democrat to carry on precisely
those same policies.
out to be right. The Republicans took a combined 62 percent
vote. Bustamante got 31 percent. The Republicans
received twice as many votes as the Democrat, meaning that it
didn't matter which Republican candidate drew from the other—as
it turns out, the election of Bustamante was virtually a mathematical
impossibility. This election really was about rejecting left-wing
policies and replacing them with conservative policies. Pure
statewide L.A. Times Poll revealed the crux of the problem
conservatives in future races. They asked
the question, "Do you think McClintock is too conservative
to win in California? Ironically, more Republicans said "yes" than
did Democrats. Bear in mind, they weren't saying that McClintock
was too conservative for they, themselves, to support—the
vast majority were saying they thought I'd do the best job. What
they were saying is that they thought that others would think
I was too conservative.
A near majority of self-described conservatives were afraid
And yet, the final Gallup poll reported that in a head-to-head
race, I would have beaten Bustamante by almost exactly the same
margin as Schwarzenegger.
So there's a certain failure of conviction among conservatives.
We like our philosophy, but we don't believe that others do.
So, the first
lesson of October 7th is that conservatism sells. The second
is that conservatives need to recognize this—and
to regain the courage of conviction that has always been the
foundation of freedom.
And the third lesson is that freedom is the wave of the future,
and if the Republican party is going to succeed, it must stand
by the conservative policies its candidates pledged during this
campaign, and which 62 percent of California's voters just affirmed.
We must recognize that a political sea change has occurred in
ago, when I began the effort to abolish California's car tax,
extensive focus group studies—and
the last question asked of each group was this: "What kind
of a politician do you think would abolish the car tax, Republican
unanimous answer around every conference table was, "A
Democrat would abolish the car tax, because that helps working
families like mine," Obviously there was a complete disconnect
between those voters and the candidates they were electing. One
thing you can say about Gray Davis. He reconnected those voters
to reality. And they can hear us now.
They say, "A
conservative is a liberal who's been mugged."
Big government has mugged the people of California. And on October
7th, they finally figured it out. And they acted on it.
And now, they expect our party to fulfill its new contract with
voters. It is now absolutely vital that this administration act
on the conservative pledges that it made to the voters: to cut
spending and balance the budget without tax increases.
brings us to the fine point of it all—and the
reason all of you are here today.
we are waging today is an eternal struggle—and
one that I believe our generation is destined to win—as
long as we stay true to our ideals.
many among us who have either lost sight of those ideals—or
who have come seriously to question whether those ideals are
there been a more important time for the Republicans to confidently,
and unequivocally make our case to the
people of California. Never has there been a more important time
to heed the advice of Ronald Reagan—to paint our positions
in BOLD colors—and not hide them in pale pastels.
are built upon great principles. And they are judged upon their
devotion to those principles. Freedom is such
a principle—it is the natural condition of human happiness
and prosperity and it is the imperative of our age.
was given to the Young America's Foundation's
West Coast Leadership Conference in Santa Barbara, California
on October 25, 2003.