First, some truth ... some people don't like me. The media tags me as 'extreme,' attempting to link me in the public mind to 'Muslim extremists,' to paint me as unreasonable. Political blogs say I'm unpopular with my congressional colleagues, which is supposed to be insulting - perhaps they believe that Congress is like middle school where popularity is some sort of goal or marker for success. Some, even in the Republican party, have called my efforts to make significant change self-serving. These things, these sticks and stones, are not the truth.
Here's the truth. My views on abortion, on the second amendment, on immigration, on government spending, on national security - they are all squarely aligned with the majority of Americans. They are not, however, aligned with the media or the pop-culture brokers, so it's understandable that many people have the perception that my positions are extreme. The Republicans are not the extremists in this race.
As for being unpopular within Congress, well, that happens when you take strong, principled positions. It's no different than in any other job, really. Congress is famous for having a lower like-ability rating than used car salesmen. I like to think I'm one of the good used car salesmen, the one who tells you about the oil leak and the transmission that slips, and who refuses to 'tote the note' when I know you can't afford it. The sales manager may not like it, but at least I can sleep at night.
In regard to being self-serving, I have to admit, that truly offends me, but politics doesn't have the designated safe spaces of a gender-studies conference, so let me address that head on. Yes, I've used attention getting tactics, but that is only because leadership didn't lead. Yes, I've been abrasive and vocal and demanding, but only on critical issues that needed it, where we should not go-along-to-get-along, where the easy path is the wrong path. Some battles are too important to avoid for political expediency.
And now, let's talk about rules, about how they are elemental to civil society, about how those that disregard them are declaring themselves to be greater, better, or more important than you. This is the great divide in our society, those who play by the rules versus those who think they are above them.
Do we really need to make the list? Unconstitutional executive orders. Violation of federal regulations on retaining information. Backdoor hiring of advisers. Hiding relationships with lobbyists. Selectively enforcing immigration laws. Cronyism in general. Political donations propping up Planned Parenthood. Refusing to prosecute IRS officials caught persecuting citizens for their political beliefs. Do you need a list? Do you not see this everyday?
If you have ever observed a situation where an average Joe would be punished, but the politically connected or the famous and influential are not, then you recognize the injustice of the governing class, the privileged class, and 'for thee but not for me' justice. You see the biased reporting, the 'if-Bush-had-done-it' or 'if-a-Republican had done it' inconsistency in the headlines, the infidelities dismissed and even praised for some, which would cause a decent man life-long shame. You see it. We all see it.
Here's what I want you to know about me and rules. I follow them. When my critics refer to a 'failed filibuster' or a 'failed attempt to shutdown the government' please note that in those attempts, I followed the rules. I did not circumvent them to get my way. I did not consider myself above them. Those efforts may not have accomplished what they were intended to, but neither did they violate the rules. They were not unprincipled. You don't take shortcuts. You don't make your own rules. I follow the rules. I challenge the Democrats to make the same pledge, and I hope that Democratic voters recognize the power of this pledge, that though we may disagree, as President, I will abide by the Constitution and we will work to earn the respect of all citizens by upholding the law equally, for everyone.
And finally, let's talk about earned success. On the campaign trail I've not been shy in bragging about my roots, the work and solid foundation of my parents, the opportunities that America provides and that I took advantage of. The Democrats would tell you that 'earned success' is not possible, that the game is rigged by millionaires and billionaires and corporations and big this or big that. They call me extreme and unpopular and arrogant because they cannot afford for me, a product of American opportunity, to succeed, just like they cannot afford for a food stamp family to break the cycle or for a young woman to realize that the most powerful pro-choice comes before conception or for young people to learn that education and success does not require indebtedness.
The Democrats have spent decades deconstructing the family, the incubator of earned success, and undermining the path smoothing power of personal responsibility. All of our current societal woes, from urban violence to economic insecurity to foreign policy chaos, can be laid at the feet of failed Democratic plans and policies, and the Republicans who enable them by putting politics ahead of principle. Government cannot make you successful, but it can get in your way. Billionaires and corporations are not scheming behind the scenes to prevent you from reaching your goals, but they can use an oversized government to skew the market to their advantage.
The government cannot make you perfectly safe or permanently comfortable. It can, however, create an environment that allows you to be your best, and then get out of your way and let you do it. My goal is to rebuild your trust in the American idea, and your belief in yourself. I'm asking for your vote, not because you can count on me as a compromiser, a consensus builder, slickly manipulating the levers of power to advance an agenda, but because we believe in the same principles - honesty, the rule of law and personal responsibility. I'm asking you to cast your vote for principle, not promises and personality. America does not need fundamental change, it needs to return to fundamental principles.
at 12:52 PM