Jack Kemp and the future of the GOP

Jack Kemp, a man for whom I have nothing but respect, sadly passed away this weekend. As part of a tribute of sorts for the former Bills quarterback and Congressman, RealClearPolitics.com has several speechs and columns written by the self-proclaimed "bleeding-heart conservative."

Kemp was a man who never stopped believing in the greatness of our nation. He never stopped believing in the endless opportunities of the American Dream. I think some excerpts of his writings have some good advice for all of us as we look towards the future of our nation and our party.

Vice-presidential nomination (1996):

We're going to carry the word to every man, woman and child of every color and background that today, on the eve of the new American century, it's time to renew the American promise and to recapture the American dream, and to give our nation a new birth of freedom with liberty, equality and justice for all. That's what it means to be a Republican.

Tonight, I'm putting our opponents on notice. We're going to ask for the support of every single American. Our appeal of boundless opportunity crosses every barrier of geography, race and belief in America. We're not going to leave anybody out of this opportunity....

Today, the Democratic Party is not democratic. They are elitist. They don't have faith in people. They have in government. They trust government more than markets. And that's why they raised taxes on middle income families. That's why they tried to nationalize health care. That's why that today they say they are "unalterably opposed" to cutting taxes on the American family.....

Think how much poorer our nation is, and deprived of, not allowing that child to reach his or her potential. And those like him. Think how much richer our nation will be when every single child is able to grow up to reach for his or her God-given potential -- including those who come to America. Including those who are willing to risk everything to come to this nation.

On Obama's victory (Nov. 2008):
My advice for you all is to understand that unity for our nation doesn't require uniformity or unanimity; it does require putting the good of our people ahead of
what's good for mere political or personal advantage.

The party of Lincoln, (i.e., the GOP), needs to rethink and revisit its historic roots as the party of emancipation, liberation, civil rights and equality of opportunity for all. On the other hand, the party of Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and now Obama must put forth an agenda that understands that getting American growing again will require both Keynesian and classical incentive-oriented (supply-side) economic ideas. But there's time for political and economic advice in a later column (or two).

On the Lincoln Bicentennial (Feb. 2009):
For Abraham Lincoln, true welfare meant not dependency, but well-being; not equality of reward, but equality of opportunity; not reliance on the state, but reliance on oneself and one's family. He wrote, prophetically, "The progress by which the poor, honest, industrious and resolute man raises himself, that he may work on this own account and hire somebody else ... is the great principle for which this government was really formed."

Jack Kemp was a man fully committed to the fulfillment of America's promise. It is the promise of opportunity, of economic freedom as well as personal freedom. He spent his life as a "happy warrior." He will be missed.