This evening I was given the opportunity to speak to the Vanderbilt College Republicans on campus along with two other candidates for election in 2010. The group’s President, Krystle, was kind enough to add me in at the last minute.
The text below is a copy of the speech I was able to give.
Vanderbilt College Republicans – January 13, 2010
Let me express my thanks to Krystle for the invitation on such short notice and let me thank you so much for the gift of your most valuable asset, your time. Your involvement in College Republicans and your presence here tonight indicates a high level of interest in the issues of the day.
My name is Jeff Hartline and I am a candidate for the 5th district congressional seat in Tennessee. For too long, the citizens of the district have been represented by men who have claimed to be one of them but have gone to Washington and cast votes to enact legislation that works against the very people they claim to represent. This has been vividly illustrated in the past several months by our representative casting the deciding votes for the $787 billion stimulus, the Cap and Trade energy bill, and the Health Care debacle. Like many out there, I have phoned, sent letter and emails, all to no avail. Having now heard the thousands of my friends and acquaintances voice their concerns, I looked to see if there was someone to support in this district for the upcoming election cycle. Much like the old battle advance, the flag for the cause of liberty had long fallen on the ground. I have now picked up the flag and am carrying it forward.
Why me? My background is a combination of white collar/blue collar experience. I have worked as a health care consultant, managed medical practices, owned manufacturing entities, taught high school and at the University level, served in a ministry role in my local church family, coached baseball for 13 years, and worked as a manufacturer’s rep. I’ve played in a band and worked in an orchard. I am the citizen Legislator the Founders had in mind when they crafted the Republic. These experiences have prepared me for this next phase, that of serving my community in the political arena.
Much like Davy Crockett in the early 1800’s, I only want to be a citizen legislator, not a career politician, which is why I am supporting 12 year term limits. I want to go to Washington to represent this district, come home on the weekends to talk with the constituents, and return for good after my service is done to pursue the next phase of my life.
Our campaign is not a campaign of personality. It is a campaign of principles, and passion. It is not about me, it is about you and the things that are important to you. It is about a message of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Let me focus on just a few things that I think are of significant importance to everyone in the district. The easiest way to remember these points are to remember these rights that Jefferson affirmed that the Creator had granted to mankind: Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
First, our current path is a direct threat to Life. I am concerned about the irresponsible spending and borrowing that has taken place under the watch of both political parties. This fiscal policy is unsustainable. The unrestrained deficit spending, borrowing and printing of money is a disaster waiting to happen and is a growing threat to our fiscal soundness. However, it is not just a train wreck coming down the road. The consequences of this irresponsible behavior are with us now. The failing economy and loss of jobs is a direct result of Federal irresponsibility in overseeing financial institutions, sucking up capital through borrowing, thus depriving private business of seed money, and continued regulation and taxing of entrepreneurs. Risk-takers today see more risk in what their government is doing and may do to them than the perils of the market.
I propose to reverse this madness as I work toward a reduction in federal programs and spending, a balanced budget, and a proactive plan to begin to pay down the oppressive national debt. The people of America celebrated the elimination of the National debt during the Andrew Jackson administration. I look forward to a similar celebration during my lifetime.
Second, our path to “security” has created a direct threat against our Liberty. Benjamin Franklin remarked years ago that those who would trade their liberty for security will have neither. Franklin’s words are prophetic for our time. I am concerned about the intrusion of Federal power into every phase of our lives. For the past eighty years, The Federal Government has overstepped its constitutional authority. It has done so in the wake of numerous crises, arguing that it must step in to avert disaster. The voters have allowed this intrusion and those in power now see no end to the control it has over the citizenry.
The Constitution was written to restrict the power of the Federal Government because the Founders of our Republic knew the outcome of a strong central government was tyranny over the people. I am committed to working to shrink the size and power of the Federal Government back to Constitutional boundaries.
Third, our circumstances threaten our very Pursuit of Happiness. The current economy is experiencing a 17% effective unemployment rate. That’s 1 out of every five working American adults. Unemployment among young people is running north of 50%. With the reduction of employment comes the reduction of social security and Medicare taxes and the continuing extension of unemployment benefits, further threatening our economic stability. But the real threat to our Pursuit of Happiness is the advancing Federal intrusion into the individual liberty of our citizens.
When the people who create jobs are frightened by an over-regulating government, they circle the wagons and do not hire, they do not buy, they do not risk their capital. When the Congress continues to pass laws that threaten the people who produce wealth, these entrepreneurs take their wealth and hide it. It should not be a surprise that entrepreneurs continue to lay off employees because they see additional taxes coming, oppressive health regulations on the table, and continued favor granted to friends of the Administration. This is irresponsible and immoral. My friends and acquaintances continue to tell me, “If this is Hope and Change, can we please go back to Despair!”
The only jobs the Federal Government can create are Federal jobs that are supported by the taxpayers. Let’s consider the record of the Federal Government in handling business and money. The Post Office is a perennial budget joke that loses money faster than the stamp prices can be raised. Medicare, only in existence for five decades is on the verge of insolvency. Social Security has now become a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff jealous. The national joke among the producers in society is that they have to work harder to fund their retirement because they truly do not expect Social Security to be there when they retire. It, too, is on the verge of insolvency. Our government owned railroad, Amtrak costs the taxpayers a $40 subsidy for every ticket purchased. Not a great track record. Not quite the Midas Touch. And these same people want to manage my Health Care? Not a chance.
We need private businesses creating jobs. We need to get the Federal Government out of the way of progress in the private sector. The Federal Government was not designed to do the things it is now trying to do and is not constitutionally mandated to do. I plan to lead an effort to restore a fiscally sound Republic that will be the envy of the world.
My friends, these are critical times. They call for action. They call for responsible citizens taking back their government. They call for passionate engagement. They call for hard work. They have called me to the fight. I have picked up the flag that symbolizes Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Will you join me? Thank you for your kind attention.
The students were very gracious and it was so great to see young minds asking tough questions and expecting legitimate answers. I look forward to my next opportunity to speak to another group of young adults ready to straighten the path of our nation.