Remarks by Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele on Civil Rights Anniversary as Prepared for Delivery at the 2004 Republican National Convention on Tuesday, August 31, Evening Session 7:00 - 11:15 P.M. EDT

Aug 31, 2004, 01:00 ET from 2004 Republican National Convention

    NEW YORK, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- The following are remarks by Lieutenant
 Governor Michael Steele on Civil Rights Anniversary as prepared for delivery
 at the 2004 Republican National Convention:
     Good evening. Is this a great party or what?
     I had planned to give a moving defense of the conservative principles of
 the Republican Party tonight.
     But there was only one problem; Barak Obama gave it last month at the
 Democratic Convention.
     I am the first African-American ever elected to a statewide office in
     Even more amazingly, on a ticket with Governor Bob Ehrlich, the first
 Republican Governor in Maryland in 40 years, I became the first Republican
 lieutenant governor in my state.
     Together, we made history.
     I am proof that the blessings of liberty are within reach of every
     We have come an incredibly long way since the first Republican President,
 Abraham Lincoln, signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
     We have come a long way since another Republican President, Dwight
 Eisenhower, sent the National Guard into Little Rock to open the school doors
 to black and white children alike.
     And we have come even further since a majority of Republicans in the
 United States Senate fought off the segregationist Democrats to pass the Civil
 Rights Act of 1964.
     My journey to this moment has been inspired by men and women who remained
 forever vigilant in their pursuit of equality and opportunity.
     Individuals like Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Ronald Reagan and
 Maebell Turner, refused to accept the poisonous path of complacency.
     They each had dreams, but more important, they all had plans for turning
 those dreams into an American reality.  The promise of America is the promise
 of endless possibilities.
     America remains that place President Reagan called "a shining city on a
     But while the promise of America is real, the challenges we face to secure
 that promise for every American are no less real.
     We must continue to be vigilant in our fight against the blight of
 poverty, poor education and lost opportunity.
     What truly defines the civil rights challenge today isn't whether you can
 get a seat at the lunch counter.
     It's whether you can own that lunch counter in order to create legacy
 wealth for your children.  We heard one word over and over again at the
 Democratic Convention: Hope.
     But there is a problem, my friends: Hope is not a strategy. Hope doesn't
 protect you from terrorists, hope doesn't lower your taxes, hope doesn't help
 you buy a home, and hope doesn't ensure quality education for your kids.
     As the book of James reminds us "it is not enough just to have faith.
 Faith that does not show itself by good deeds is no faith at all."  You see,
 it's results that matter; and President Bush does not just talk about hope, he
 stands on a record of putting hope into action for America.
     President Bush knows that a competitive marketplace will require providing
 our children with a first-rate education.
     He knows that too many of our children are headed for the state pen
 instead of Penn State. He knows that the "soft bigotry of low expectations" is
 today's version of blocking the entrance to the schoolhouse door. President
 Bush didn't just hope for dramatic education reform, he turned that hope into
 No Child Left Behind, and our children are learning again. He didn't just hope
 for economic recovery, he turned that hope into action by returning money to
 the people who earned it -- American families.
     Today, over 111 million taxpayers are keeping more of their own money. And
 the President is committed to making that tax relief permanent.
     President Bush didn't just hope for increased home ownership in America,
 he put his hope into action.
     Today, more Americans own homes than ever before and for the first time
 ever, more than  half of all minority families are homeowners.  This is a
 powerful and transforming time in our nation's history. I am, like many of
 you, a 20th century parent trying to raise 21st century kids.
     I realize that my responsibility for them doesn't end when I bundle them
 up, kiss their foreheads and send them off into the world.
     If we expect to succeed, if we expect our children to succeed, we must
 look to ourselves and not to government to raise our kids, start our business,
 or provide care to our aging parent.
     What government can do is give us the tools we need and then get out of
 the way and let us put our hopes into action!
     Yet, this requires strong leadership. Senator Kerry's leadership is
 illustrated best by the Senator himself when he said, "I actually voted for
 the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it."
     He also recently said that he doesn't want to use the word "war" to
 describe our efforts to fight terrorism.
     Well, I don't want to use the words "Commander-in-Chief" to describe John
     Just a year after the first attack on the World Trade Center, most Senate
 Republicans and Senate Democrats rejected an amendment to slash our
 intelligence budget by $6 billion. But not John Kerry.
     It was his amendment. Most Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats voted
 to give our combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan the funding necessary for
 things like body armor.  But not John Kerry.
     When Vice President Gore urged the Senate to "Reinvent Government" and
 reduce the federal workforce, most Republicans and Democrats voted for it.
 But not John Kerry.
     Republicans and Democrats in the Senate voted to reform the product
 liability system that was making trial lawyers rich while causing playgrounds
 and small businesses to close. But not John Kerry.
     Most Senators in both parties voted to protect the institution of marriage
 with the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by President Clinton. But not
 John Kerry.
     Enough about him.
     Now you may remember I mentioned Maebell Turner as one of the great
 inspirations in my life. Maebell is just one of many faces in America who
 struggled to raise a family and believed that she could offer something more
 for her children.
     She grew up the daughter of sharecroppers and had to quit school in the
 fifth grade to work a farm. She married a man who died from alcoholism.
     She worked forty-five years in a Laundromat, making minimum wage and still
 managed to send her kids to parochial school.
     She never took public assistance, because as she put it, she didn't want
 the government raising her kids.
     Maebell always saw the hope that her kids would be better off than she
 was, and she channeled her hope for that legacy into action.
     Today, Maebell Turner has a daughter who is an accomplished pediatrician
 ...  and a son who is Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.
     A lifelong Democrat, she once asked me how I could become such a strong
 Republican; I simply replied "Mom, you raised me well."
     You see, she raised me to understand and appreciate the words of Abraham
 Lincoln, who said: "You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
 You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.  You cannot help the
 wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.  You cannot further the
 brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred.  You cannot help the poor by
 destroying the rich.  You cannot build character and courage by taking away
 man's initiative and incentive.  You cannot help men permanently by doing for
 them what they should do for themselves."
     These are the beliefs of our Republican Party. These are the principles
 that drew me to this Party 28 years ago.
     And today, the standard-bearer of these convictions is George W.  Bush.
     So, let's continue to work to re-elect a compassionate man who understands
 people's yearning for freedom, a man who knows that families make better
 decisions than government, a man who turns hope into action, and moves us all
 toward that Shining City on a Hill: PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH!
               Paid for by the Committee on Arrangements for the
                      2004 Republican National Convention
               2 Penn Plaza * New York, NY 10121 * (212) 356-2004
             Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee

SOURCE 2004 Republican National Convention