It’s not just the California Republican Party that needs rebuilding – it’s America itself, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday at the state GOP convention in Burlingame.
Rice, now a Stanford professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow, said the American “pursuit of happiness” requires opportunity, community and responsibility to each other, as well as to people around the world who don’t yet have the liberties we enjoy.
That requires “proper balance between the rights and responsibilities of the individual, and the powers of government,” Rice said. “We don’t mean ‘no government’ – that’s not what our founders believe.”
Instead, she said, we need a government that imposes few regulations and low taxes upon the private sector “because it is the private sector that is creative, innovative and risk-taking” in creating jobs and opportunities for citizens.
“We must be committed to the belief that individuals have choices, and we will respect the choices of each other,” Rice said. “On one hand, we are the most individualistic people on the face of the earth … But we… are also the most philanthropic. This is a country where people give up their resources and their time to good causes.”
But public entitlements aren’t the answer, she said. Nor should Americans be jealous of each others’ success, she said; anyone can succeed with hard work and perseverance, so long as they’re given a good education.
She said she can’t understand how some people move to wealthy neighborhoods to get their children into good schools, or send their children to private schools, and then argue against school choice.
“The greatest civil rights issue of our time is a high-quality education for every child,” she said, calling for a school-voucher system.
More from Rice, after the jump…
On foreign relations, Rice said the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula is what happens when an authoritarian nation is emboldened by its control over significant oil resources. America can and should change the balance of world power by developing more of its own energy, she said.
“None of this works if we’re not strong, if we don’t have what Ronald Reagan called
‘peace through strength,’” she said, even if America is weary after more than a decade of war and terrorism, because sustaining a strong military role abroad will make the nation safer.
If America leaves a power vacuum, it will be filled by likes of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, terrorists in Iraq, Chinese nationalists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Rice said.
“America has to lead … because this is the freest and most generous nation on earth, and it is exceptional,” she said. “We have a view of how history should unfold, and we have been willing to sacrifice for that view.”
And just as America must lead the world, California must lead America in standing for these conservative values, she said.