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 Governor in the 2003 recall election. His valuable
website is found at www.tommclintock.com [McClintock
By Our Promises
Address to California Republican Assembly...
[Tom McClintock] 4/8/04
begin to thank you enough for your stalwart support - not only
of my own recent campaign - but for all you have done
- year after year - to keep our party true to its traditional
principles. No single organization or group of people has been
a more 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.
But I especially want to thank you for standing by me - and
by our cause - the way you did in the recall election. Together,
you and I stood firm in the defense of our Republican principles.
I could not have done that without the CRA. And here is the
result. According to the Republican party's own pollster, from
his election-day polling, had we not stayed the course - and
brought that additional margin of voters to the polls on election
day, it is likely the recall election would have failed. And
I believe that together, we kept the Schwarzenegger campaign
on the conservative straight and narrow.
And although many are trying to interpret the recall election
as a victory for Republican moderates - just remember that Arnold
Schwarzenegger did not campaign as a moderate. He campaigned
as a Milton Friedman, supply-side tax fighting budget-cutting
reincarnation of Ronald Reagan.
It was a great frustration to me - but a great victory for the
conservative cause - that the key themes that you and I outlined
at the outset of the campaign were ultimately co-opted by the
So I believe that we can be proud of the fact that our campaign
acted as the conscience of the election - and framed the issues
upon which the contest was ultimately decided - the issues that
a combined 62 percent of Californians supported.
Now it is up to us to continue to anchor this party to windward.
The recall election was just the first of the storms. We still
confront a radically left-wing legislature that will do everything
possible to push the administration in their direction - and
there are elements within that administration that want to be
pushed -- and it is our job to see that doesn't happen.
And we have two powerful allies to help us. The first of our
powerful allies are the Democrats in the state legislature.
I have often pointed out that there is only one useful purpose
of a minority party in a democracy - and that is to become a
MAJORITY party. And the only way to become a majority party is
to offer a vision of governance vastly better than the majority
party - take it to the people - and earn their support to govern.
Look at this legislature - have we ever had an easier job than
now to present a better vision of governance than they have delivered?
I received an e-mail from a Democrat voter a few weeks ago.
"You have no idea how comforted my business, which is drowning
in Red Ink thanks to California's Worker's Compensation fiasco
feels, knowing that the Assembly engaged in a "Lengthy and
passionate" debate about Native American Mascot names. Tomahawks
and Warriors most certainly should take priority. Does it matter
that workers compensation represents over 5 percent of my company's
gross revenue. Does it matter that I have had to put a number
of employees out of their jobs because of this state's inability
to deal with this issue…I will sleep better knowing that
a Native American of the Apache tribe cannot acquire a personalized
license plate with the word "Apache" on it.”
We are spending at record levels and yet we keep running out
of money. We have the lowest credit rating of any state in the
country and have just borrowed $15 billion more. And we are watching
the first domestic outmigration of population in our nation's
In fact, according to the census data, the most popular destination
for California expatriates is the middle of the Arizona and Nevada
deserts. Now I want you to think about that for a second. Californians
are finding a better place to live and work and raise their families
out in the middle of the Nevada and Arizona deserts than they
could find in California.
There's a reason why they tested nuclear weapons out in the
southwestern desert of our nation. It's the only place on the
continent that can actually be IMPROVED with atomic bombs.
Now, I submit to you that no act of GOD could wreak such devastation
on California. Only acts of Democrats could do that, and they
A fellow just sent me a newspaper clipping from a California
business journal. It's a full-page ad by the state of Idaho,
pointing out that for an Electronics Products Manufacturing operation
with 200 employees, the cost of Workers Comp in Idaho is under
$40,000 - while in California it's over $440,000.
But what was the big measure unveiled by the Democratic dean
of the state legislature, John Vasconcellos, along with several
colleagues the week before last. Lower the voting age to 14.
Now before you laugh at that, I do want to point out that your
average 14-year-old exercises far better judgment and commonsense
than Senator Vasconcellos and his friends have demonstrated every
day that they cast the votes to make our laws. And as proof of
that, I happen to have a 14-year old daughter. She thinks that
idea is crazy and so do all of her 14-year old friends.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are pushing a measure through the legislature
to require the State Building Code to incorporate the principles
of feng shui. IN THE STATE BUILDING CODE. For those of you who
haven't been keeping current with the latest New Age fads, "Fung
Schwa" is defined as "the Chinese art or practice of
positioning objects based on a belief in patterns of yin and
yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects." You
see, it's no longer enough that buildings stand up during an
earthquake - In California it's important for our buildings to
feel good about themselves.
But it doesn't stop with buildings. The Democrats have already
made it illegal to sell un-weaned birds in pet shops (which invites
the delicate question of…never mind), and are about to
impose severe penalties on any person who de-claws their cat.
We may rank at the bottom of the nation in the quality of our
schools, the condition of our roads, the efficiency of our water
and electricity systems - but by God, our pets are going to have
the highest self-esteem in the world!
Even though our children routinely perform toward the bottom
of the nation's test scores, last year, I'm happy to report that
the Democrats have gotten rid of our low performing schools.
It's actually easier than it sounds, we now have a law that requires
low performing schools to be called "High Priority Schools." Our
kids still can't read, but parents can now boast on bumper stickers
that "My child attends a high priority school." These
same students, upon graduating from any of the state's business
schools will receive special recognition on diplomas they probably
cannot read if they demonstrate a "commitment to socially
responsible leadership." Which, I presume means they've
agreed not to make too much money. Given the lousy education
they're getting I don't believe that will be a problem.
There is of course one growth industry left in California -
it is government. And the newest addition to that government
is a new commission called, of course, "The California Lesbian
Gay Bisexual and Transgender Veteran's Memorial Commission."
This year, 7,500 qualified California freshman who would otherwise
be attending state universities this year will be turned away
from those universities and diverted to community colleges because
of lack of funds. Meanwhile, about 7,500 illegal aliens will
receive in-state tuition subsidies of up to $11,000 per year
to attend those same universities - at the cost of $65 million
- and if you think there's anything wrong with that picture then
obviously you are a racist.
We have a very simple message to take to voters if we're going
to finish this job: It really does matter who you elect to public
office. There really is a difference between Republicans and
Democrats. And if you cram too many Democrats in a statehouse
for too long, you, too, can turn a state into a wasteland less
desirable than the middle of the Nevada Nuclear Test Range.
They say a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged. Ours
is a state that has been mugged by the Democratic Party.
And that brings us to our second powerful ally - the people
of California. They've had a belly full of this nonsense. They've
figured out that socialism doesn't work any better in California
than anywhere else it's been tried.
How else do you explain the historic recall of a sitting governor
in a record turnout election - with the eyes of the nation upon
us - in the most liberal state in the nation. In a state where
only 35 percent of the voters are registered Republicans, the
Republican candidates for governor received a combined 62 percent
of the vote - literally two votes for every vote cast for the
You can't call us the Left Coast any more. Ladies and gentlemen,
welcome back to Reagan Country.
And make no mistake - that was NOT an election over personality
or celebrity. Every major poll asked voters who they thought
would do the best job as governor. The most conservative candidate
received the widest margin of approval. The second most conservative
received the second widest margin of approval. And right down
the line - the most liberal candidate - Peter Camejo of the Green
party received the widest margin of disapproval.
And by the way, Peter Camejo is a perfect gentleman. There is
not an offending 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. And yet there
are still some in our party who believe that we heed to be less
conservative and more liberal.
Once again this election has proven what has always been obvious
to us -- conservatism is not only right – it is popular.
However, today 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 some 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.
That turned out to be right. The Republicans took a combined
62 percent of the vote. Bustamante got 31 percent. The Republicans
literally received twice as many votes as the Democrat, meaning
that you could split the Republican vote any way you like, the
election of Bustamante was a mathematical impossibility. This
election really was about rejecting left-wing policies and replacing
them with conservative policies. Pure and simple.
The crux of the problem for principled conservatives in future
races was revealed by the last statewide L.A. Times Poll. 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
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 some conservatives.
They like our philosophy, but they don't believe that others
The conservative movement divided over this point in the last
election. We must re-unite in the solid conviction, backed now
by solid experience, that not only in our cause right - but it
will prevail - IF WE ARE TRUE TO IT.
Nine years before he became Governor of California, Reagan put
it this way during a commencement address to his alma mater.
He said, "This is a simple struggle between those of us
who believe that man has the dignity and sacred right and the
ability to choose and shape his own destiny and those who do
not so believe. This irreconcilable conflict is between those
who believe in the sanctity of individual freedom and those who
believe in the supremacy of the state."
If that sounds too pat - let me remind you of our adversaries'
A few years ago state coffers were bulging and the Democrats
were embarking on the spending spree that has now brought our
state to the brink of bankruptcy. An interviewer asked the Democratic
speaker of the Assembly if the Democrats would return at least
a small part of that windfall to taxpayers. He replied, "We
do return money to the taxpayers when we spend it for them." Another
said, "A tax cut? People would just waste it on beer." A
few years before, another told our Senate, "What do you
mean people's taxes are too high? Look at how much we let them
In a celebrated debate on the Senate floor just two years ago,
Senator Sheila Kuehl announced: "There is only one constitutional
right in the United States which is absolute and that is your
right to believe anything you want."
Lincoln said that in political parties, "there is always
one central idea from which all its minor thoughts radiate."
And when he made his historic journey from Springfield to Washington,
D.C. he paused briefly to visit Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
He told a crowd there: "…all the political sentiments
I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw
them, from the sentiments which originated in and were given
to the world from this hall. I have never had a feeling, politically,
that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration
The central idea from which all of our party's minor thoughts
radiate is, as Lincoln so eloquently said, exactly the self-evident
truth of the Declaration of Independence: that there are certain
rights that come directly from the laws of nature and of nature's
God - rights that we hold as individuals - and that the purpose
of government is to protect those rights. It is that central
idea that aligned our party as the force against slavery more
than 150 years ago and it is that central idea today that causes
our party to stand at the side of every family in America struggling
to raise their kids and make ends meet against the ever growing
demands and encroachments of the state.
The central idea from which all of the Democratic party's minor
thoughts radiate is that rights come from government and that
they serve the greater good - however the greater good might
be defined by those in power.
The natural condition of mankind is to crave freedom, to demand
freedom, and ultimately to fight for freedom. The further we
stray from those principles, the more freedom that we unwittingly
surrender, the greater the pressure grows to take that freedom
And that is what is today happening in California. It is what
you have seen happen in this nation whenever we have lost our
way. And consider this, the closer we Republicans have adhered
to this central idea - freedom - the more our party has united
and the stronger we have been. And the closer the Democrats have
adhered to THEIR central theme - authoritarianism (and the confiscatory
taxes, reckless spending and borrowing, the burdensome regulations,
and favoritism and corruption that always accompanies it)-- the
more they have fragmented and ultimately failed.
Never has the California Republican Assembly been in a more
critical position than it is right now at a more critical time
in our history. Never has the California Republican Assembly
been more important to the future of the Republican Party and
to the state of California.
Our party has now received an overwhelming mandate from the
people of California - to reduce spending, to live within our
means, to streamline bureaucracies, to stop illegal immigration,
in a word - to restore freedom.
And the people are now expecting us to be true to these promises.
We've seen what happened when we backtrack and compromise on
those promises. Remember "Read my lips - no new taxes?" And
we've seen what happens when we've stood uncompromising on those
promises. Remember Ronald Reagan?
Great parties are built upon great principles. And they are
judged by their devotion to those principles.
The CRA is the conscience of the Republican party. We have proven
that a campaign based on traditional Republican principles -
even when outrageously outspent - can strike a strong and resonant
chord across the California electorate. And now we must insist
that the promises made in the name of our party must be fulfilled
in full and must not be compromised away.
I believe that this is the most important work that the CRA
has ever been called upon to do: to keep our party true to its
principles. And I am deeply honored to stand among your ranks
and to pledge my support to you in this vital work.
This speech by Senator McClintock was given to the California
Republican Assembly, Sacramento, California - March 27, 2004 CRO