My favourite speech of the week — perhaps the only speech I enjoyed, in fact — was delivered by Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to President George W. Bush. What set her address apart was its ideological underpinings, those of compassionate conservatism at home and neo-conservatism abroad, which differ substantially and substantively from the neo-liberalism and small government conservatism of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and the neo-isolationism of Ron Paul.
On the role of the United States in the world:
And I know too that there is weariness – a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough. But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos —- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum. My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.
More than at any other time in history – the ability to mobilize the creativity and ambition of human beings forms the foundation of greatness. We have always done that better than any country in the world. We must continue to welcome the world’s most ambitious people to be a part of us. In that way we stay perpetually young and optimistic and determined. We need immigration laws that protect our borders; meet our economic needs; and yet show that we are a compassionate people.
On education reform:
The crisis in K-12 education is a grave threat to who we are. My mom was a teacher – I have the greatest respect for the profession – we need great teachers – not poor or mediocre ones. We need to have high standards for our students – self-esteem comes from achievement not from lax standards and false praise. And we need to give parents greater choice – particularly poor parents whose kids – most often minorities — are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights struggle of our day.
On her personal journey:
And on a personal note– a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America - her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant – but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter – she can be President of the United States and she becomes the Secretary of State.
Yes, America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable in retrospect. But of course it has never been inevitable – it has taken leadership, courage and an unwavering faith in our values.