The Need For Leadership: Speech By Vice-President Nixon

This is the text of a speech given by Vice-President Richard Nixon during the 1960 presidential election campaign.

Nixon was the Republican Party nominee for president. He was narrowly defeated by the Democratic Party nominee, John F. Kennedy.

Text of speech by Vice-President Richard Nixon in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The Need For Leadership

Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests, and I think I can say, my fellow North Carolinians, what a very great thrill it is for my wife, Pat, and for me to he here and to receive such a wonderful welcome in my first visit to North Carolina as a candidate. To the crowd that we see here in this magnificent coliseum, and to those who are in an auditorium in another part of the building, and to those who are outside, who could not get in, may I say thank you for coming and for giving us a tremendous morale booster on this return to North Carolina.

My good friend Congressman Charles Jonas (Republican, North Carolina) has often invited me to come to North Carolina and suggested we might do well down here. I must say I thought Charlie was being a bit enthusiastic then. But tonight I can only say that after looking at the election results for 1952 and seeing that we got 44 percent of the North Carolina vote, and after looking at the results for 1956 and seeing that we got 49 percent of the North Carolina vote, and after seeing this enthusiastic crowd – I think we are going to get over 50 percent of the votes in North Carolina.

In any event, we will give our opponents the fight of their lives. That will be good for them and good for us; because the harder the fight, the better the chance that we will get good leadership for America.

All of you realize that the main personal reason why I wanted to come back to North Carolina as the first of the States in this part of the country is because I owe my education to North Carolina and to Duke University. And when I say “owe it to North Carolina, to Duke,” I mean it, because if the university had not been so generous with its scholarships I could not have come here.

I have many memories of Duke that I would like to relive with you. I remember that I worked harder and learned more in those 3 years than in any 3 years of my life. And I always remember that whatever I have done in the past, or may do in the future, Duke University is responsible one way or the other.

After referring to these personal considerations, may I turn now to what I know is on your minds and on the minds of people throughout this country tonight, and to what will be on your minds, as it should be, between now and November 8 – the future of America and what you can do to affect her future by the votes you cast on that day.

I shall speak to you on the issues of this campaign in a way you may not expect. I recognize that this audience is predominantly Republican. I also recognize that the usual approach in a meeting of this kind is to come before such an audience and say, “Vote Republican.”

I do not say that to you tonight. I say to you that the issues before the American people in this campaign, the kind of leadership that America must furnish this Nation and the world, and the decisions with regard to these issues and this leadership are so important that we should look beyond the party label and see what the man stands for.

I call upon all the people here, whether you are Republicans or Democrats or independents, to hear what I have to say, to hear me on the issues, and then to make your decision – not on the basis of the party label, even though you happen to be a member of my party – but on the basis of whether you think what I stand for is best for America. Decide whether you think what I stand for, and what those who stand with me stand for, is the kind of leadership that would be best for you and your family and your children in the years ahead.

In setting forth these issues I cannot touch upon them all, of course. Instead I will dwell only on those that I think are uppermost in your minds.

I will begin with a major difference between the approach of the other party, a difference which was highlighted by their platform and our platform. I speak of the approach to domestic problems that America should adopt in this critical period of the sixties.

All of you that heard our convention will recall that I, along with other speakers, said that we stand for a better America, for better schools and better jobs and better housing, for a better break for our farmers, for an improved standard of living for the American people, for progress for all.

You heard us say that, and you heard our Democratic opponents say the same thing from Los Angeles.

At a press conference just before we came here I was asked, “Mr. Nixon, is there really any difference between the two parties? Don’t you really stand for the same thing? Isn’t it a question of you  ‘me-tooing’ them or them ‘me-tooing’ you?”

My answer is, there is a big difference. The difference is not in the goals we seek, because we all want a better country for ourselves, and particularly for our children. The difference between Republicans and Democrats is in the way they answer the question: How does America get there?

On that score we say that our way is the proved way and a better way than they offered at their convention.

But here I want to make an admission. If you are looking for promises of what the Federal Government will do for you, you should not support me, because our opponents have outpromised us on everything, and they seem to be intent on outpromising us on everything that the Federal Government can do.

So some of you may say: “Now, just a minute. Isn’t that a pretty dangerous admission to make? If you admit that they are going to outpromise you on what the Federal Government will do for the people, how can the people possibly vote for you?”

The answer is this. They outpromise us in what they say the Federal Government will do, but they cannot outperform us and they cannot outpromise us as far as the results are concerned and the objectives which we will achieve.

You see, their approach to every question, whether it is health, or education, or housing, is to turn it over to the Federal Government, and call for a bigger Government spending program.

We say that the way to progress in America, the best way, the proved way, the way to go forward into a bright new future, is not through expanding the size and the functions of government, but by increasing the opportunities for millions of individual Americans. This, we believe, is the answer.

How does this produce better results? My answer is – look at our history. What has built this country? What produced such magnificent progress here in North Carolina, the State which leads the South in economic progress? Government supplemented much that the State and the individuals accomplished, but North Carolina, and America, have grown as they have, and we are as rich and productive as we are, not primarily because of what government has done, but because government has provided the climate for individual and private enterprise to grow and flourish. We must never forget that lesson.

The answer is, our policies bring the most out of individuals. Our policies encourage individuals rather than discourage them. Our policies recognize and encourage local government and State government to do a job, when it may be done better at the local or State level rather than to turn it over to the Federal Government. We say that this policy is the one that, disregarding party, Americans should and will support in these critical years ahead.

On this score ours is the proved way and a better way than that offered at their Los Angeles convention.

It is a proved way because, while you have heard a lot of criticism of our administration, there has never been an administration in history which, in bringing peace to the American people, in bringing progress, in bringing prosperity to all walks of life, has been better for the American people than the 8 years of the Eisenhower administration.

And having mentioned the President, may I say that certainly whatever we may think of this policy or that, every American can be proud of the fact that he is a man who has always upheld the dignity of that great office in a way which certainly could not be surpassed by any man in this country.

Now, having spoken of the record, sometimes there is a tendency for people to say: “Well, this is our record and we’re going to stand on it.”

But we don’t say that tonight, and we will not say it throughout this campaign. Instead, we Americans are a people who are for progress. We want to move forward. We do not want to stand still no matter how well we may have moved in the past.

As I have put it often, a record is not something to stand on but something to build on. That is the way to approach the problems of the future.

Let me give one example that I think is particularly appropriate in view of the fact that North Carolina has such a proud tradition in education. It should be a proud tradition. Right here in the Greensboro area there are six splendid institutions of higher learning.  In the whole field of elementary education there is no State in the Nation that has moved forward more progressively than North Carolina. Here is a difference in approach to prove the point I made.

You have been hearing about the different approaches to Federal aid to education of our opponents at Los Angeles and of our party in Chicago. Let me point out the difference, and I think you will see clearly the point I have been trying to make.

Our program is one which says that the Federal Government activities in aiding education at the elementary or high school level should be limited to supporting school construction only.

Our opponents do not stop there. They promise more. They say the Federal Government should step in with a much bigger program, much bigger in dollars and much bigger in what it covers. Not only should the Federal government subsidize the States in building schools, but the Federal Government should also step in and subsidize the operation of the schools and particularly subsidize our teachers’ salaries so that they can be better paid.

Does this mean that we do not want higher teachers’ salaries? The answer is, of course not. Let me tell you what the answer is to this question.

One of the major problems in American education is to provide not just classrooms. It is to provide the teachers for those classrooms who will produce the kind of learning our children must have. In order to get that kind of teacher we have to do a better job of paying the teachers than we have been doing.

But we say that the better way to get at this problem is through a program of Federal support for construction which will release funds that can be used to maintain higher standards for teachers’ salaries.

There is another thing which needs to be considered. We want better classrooms and better construction. We want better salaries for our teachers. But let us never forget that in American education we also want to preserve freedom, and one of the essences of freedom in this country is local and State control of the educational system of America.

That is why we say that a Federal program should be one that will deal with the problem, but also one that will never place in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington the right to pay our teachers, and inevitably give them the power to tell the teachers what to teach.

So much for these differences. I can summarize simply in this way. The platform that we adopted at Chicago, in contrast to the platform that our opponents adopted in Los Angeles, was closer to the great principles of Jefferson and Jackson and Wilson than theirs. And because it was closer to the principles of Jefferson and Jackson and Wilson, millions of Democrats this year (as they did in 1952 and 1956) will vote for our party at the national level – not because they are leaving their party, but because their party left them in its platform at Los Angeles.

Let me speak now of a more important issue. I am sure when you heard the words “more important” some of you thought: “What could be more important than education for our children, a better job, adequate hospitals and health care, all these things that I have mentioned?”

The answer is: “We can have the best social security system, the best education, the best jobs that we can imagine, and it is not going to do any good unless we are around to enjoy them.”

So I urge all of you, without regard to your partisan affiliations, to have this major issue in mind as you go to the polls on election day: “Which of the two candidates, which of the two tickets, do you believe best provides the kind of leadership that will keep the peace for America and keep it without a surrender of principle?”

Here we think we have a good record. We have a record that goes back 8 years. During these years we find that the United States got out of one war. She has kept out of other possible conflicts, and she has peace today. But in looking to the future, and building on this record we realize the problems that we confront are terribly difficult. So I would like to outline to you briefly tonight the kind of policies that I believe America can and should adopt if we are to keep the peace for ourselves and particularly for our children, without surrender.

First, we must of course maintain military strength second to none. We have such strength today, and we have the power and the will to keep that strength in the years ahead. We keep this strength not because we want war but because we know this is a deterrent to war which will keep any potential aggressor from launching it.

Second, in addition to that military strength, we need to keep the economy of this country strong and sound, productive and free, so that we can maintain the massive lead that we have over the Soviet empire. We think we can do this.

Third, we must create new instruments, and make the old ones more effective, for peace in the world. I refer, for example, to the enlightened study which Duke University is sponsoring for developing better means of substituting the rule of law for the rule of force in international affairs. This is a goal toward which we must constantly work.

I also point out on this score that I am very proud that our convention at Chicago nominated for Vice President a man who will be a working Vice President, a man who knows the Soviet threat as well as any man in the world, and a man who will work as a partner with me in strengthening the United Nations and other bodies which can keep the peace, Henry Cabot Lodge.

We must do these things then. We must keep America strong militarily. We must keep her strong economically; we must develop the instruments which will keep the peace. And for this, we believe we offer a program which the American people will consider and can and will support.

But I go a step further. It is not enough just to hold the line. We must recognize that we are challenged today by a force which is aggressive, a force that is determined to conquer the world. The Communists prefer to gain their objective without war, but they say that their objective is to work for the victory of communism throughout the world.

The only effective answer to those who are working for the victory of communism is to work for the victory of freedom throughout the world. This is what we stand for in this campaign and in the years ahead.

We must recognize that we live in a changing world. In Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, the people are determined to have a better way of life. We might like, I am sure, to be able to draw within our shell and not be concerned about their problems. But we cannot do that because someone else is concerned with them, and if they are confronted with the terrible choice of progress at the cost of freedom or staying where they are, they will take progress at the cost of freedom.

So America must face up to this. Our leaders must face up to it. Our people must face up to it. We must provide the aid – but beyond that the assistance and the device – which will enable the peoples of the world to have progress which they want and should have, and to have it with and through freedom. It must not be at the cost of freedom as the Communists insist they take it.

I am convinced that we do have the strength, and we will develop more, to win this struggle and win it without war. But it is going to take leadership. It is going to take leadership which will be calm in the time of crisis, leadership which will be firm, but leadership which will not be belligerent. Because never must we indulge in the war of words which might heat up the international atmosphere to the point that a nuclear catastrophe would come to the whole world.

Now there is one further point that I should make in this respect. Millions of people tonight are trying to determine which way they will go. I am speaking still of the millions of people whom I referred to a moment ago. Their decisions will determine our future, their future, and the world’s future. These people are looking at the United States. They are looking at it to see how freedom works.

We have so much to be proud of – our history of economic progress our history of military strength, our great achievement in science and space.

To all of these we can point with pride. Yet, it is the responsibility of every American to do everything that he can to make this country a proud example of freedom and the recognition of human dignity in the world.

I am very proud to he able to come to North Carolina, and I am proud to commend the people of this State and its leaders, not only on the progress that you have made in education, but also in the progress that you have made, are making, and will continue to make in the field of human rights.

Having spent 3 years in this State, I recognize the difficulty of this problem. I know how complex it is. I know that all of you realize the conviction that I have on this subject.

I am proud of the record of this administration in this field. I believe that our Republican platform is one that is sound. I believe it is one that sets attainable objectives. And I believe that men and women of good will who have the opportunity to study the platform will agree with what I have said.

But as I say this, I also recognize that law alone, while necessary, is not the answer to the problem of human rights.

It was a law school professor who told my class in contracts during my first year at Duke:

 Ladies and gentlemen, remember that a contract is only
as good as the will of the parties to keep it.

We must remember also that law is only as good as the will of the people to obey it. That is why it is the responsibility – and I want you to know that I recognize this responsibility – of those of us in positions of leadership, not just to pass laws, but to provide the kind of leadership which will promote within the people in the States the desire and the will to keep the law and to make progress in the solution of these difficult problems. This is the way to progress. It is a way that I am sure you will support in this audience and in this State.

And now may I bring my remarks to a close by looking for a moment into the future and by sharing with you my faith – and I think what will be your faith – with regard to that future. When we pick up our papers these days we read news which is disconcerting. We read of trouble in Laos, troubles in Japan, troubles in the Congo, Gary Powers on trial in Moscow. And people often ask me: “Isn’t this a terrible world in which we live – with all of these troubles?”

And my answer is: We live in the most exciting time in the history of America, or of civilization, or of the world. Oh, we can fail all right, and the world may be blown up and everybody in it. We might lose this struggle without a shot being fired if we don’t have the vision that we need. But, believe me, we are not going to fail, we are not going to fail because we are on the right side, the side of freedom and justice. We are on the side of freedom, of justice, of belief in God and the dignity of man.

Arrayed against us are the forces of communism, of slavery, and of tyranny. In such a struggle we cannot lose provided our faith is stronger than theirs. It must be, and it will be provided we work harder than they do. And we can and we will, provided we have the leadership that America needs; the leadership that will inspire our people, all of our people, to their best efforts in these critical years ahead.

I cannot stand before you, this audience; and say to you that I and my colleague, Cabot Lodge, are the only men that can provide this leadership. That is not for me to decide, or for him, or for our opponents. It is for you to decide. I only say this to you again: While I am proud to be the nominee of my party, I do not present our ease to America simply on the basis of my partisan label. The issues are more important than any party. What we need today is a vote for leadership for America.

So I ask you to study the issues and study our background. Then, if you believe we can and do provide the hope for the leadership that America needs, you do your part. Do not just go to the polls and vote. Work, work for the candidates of your choice.

My friends, when we look at the great history of this country, we find that the American people have had very good judgment in their choice of leadership in the Presidency.  Some of our great Presidents have been Democrats and some have been Republicans, but in any event the people have usually shown great and good judgment. Tonight I have great faith in this country, in its future, in our ideals, and in our principles, and I have great faith in our people.

So I say to you: Consider our case, make up your minds, and then work and vote, not just for a man, not just for a party, but work and vote for a better America in a new world, a world of peace and justice and freedom for all mankind.

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