Republican National Convention speeches of yore

With the RNC in full swing (or waiting to swing) it seems like as good a time as any to dust off some great RNC moments from yesteryear. And while I must confess that this is actually a short list of some of my favorite speeches given by some of my favorite conservatives, the fact remains that each of these speeches or conversations are eerily relevant. It’s also a fascinating look into conservatism over the past ninety years. Enjoy.

Calvin Coolidge’s Vice Presidential Acceptance Address 1920

To your now formal notification I respond with formal acceptance.
Your presence tells me of a leader and a cause; a leader in Warren G. Harding, the united choice of a united party, a statesman of ability, seasoned by experience, a fitting representative of the common aspirations of his fellow citizens, wise enough to seek counsel, great enough to recognize merit, and in all things a stalwart American; the cause of our common country, as declared in the platform of the Republican Party, the defense of our institutions from every assault, the restoration of constitutional government, the maintenance of law and order, the relief of economic distress, the encouragement of industry and agriculture, the enactment of humanitarian laws, the defense of the rights of our citizens everywhere, the rehabilitation of this nation in the estimation of all peoples, under an agreement, meeting our every duty, to preserve the peace of the world, always with unyielding Americanism under such a leader, such a cause, I serve.

No one in public life can be oblivious to the organized efforts to undermine the faith of our people in their government, foment, discord, aggravate industrial strife, stifle production, and ultimately stir up revolution. These efforts are a great public menace, not through danger of success, but through the great amount of harm they can do if ignored.

The first duty of the government is to repress them, punishing willful violations of law, turning the full light of publicity on all abuses of the right of assembly and of free speech ; and it is the first duty of the public and press to expose false doctrines and answer seditious arguments. American institutions can stand discussion and criticism, only if those who know bear for them the testimony of the truth. Such repression and such testimony should be forthcoming, that the uninformed may come to a full realization that these seditious efforts are not for their welfare, but for their complete economic and political destruction…

The government of the nation is in the hands of the people, when it is administered in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution, which they have adopted and ratified, and which measures the powers they have granted to their public officers, in all its branches, where the functions and duties of the three co-ordinate branches, executive, legislative, judicial, are separate and distinct and neither one directly or indirectly exercises any of the functions of either of the others. Such a practice and such a government under the Constitution of the United States it is the purpose of our party to re-establish and maintain. All authority must be exercised by those to whom it is constitutionally entrusted, without dictation, and with responsibility only to those who have bestowed it, the people…

Another source of the gravest public concern has been the reactionary tendency to substitute private  will for the public will. Instead of inquiring what the law was and then rendering it full obedience,  there has been a disposition on the part of some individuals and of groups to inquire whether they  liked the law, and if not, to disregard it, seek to override it, suspend it, and prevent its execution,  sometimes by the method of direct action, for the purpose of securing their own selfish ends…

There is yet another manifest disposition which has preyed on the weakness of the race from its  infancy, denounced alike by the letter and the spirit of the Constitution, and repugnant to all that is  American, the attempt to create class distinctions. In its full development this means the caste system, wherein such civilization as exists is rigidly set, and that elasticity so necessary for progress, and that recognition of equality which has been the aim and glory of our institutions, are destroyed and denied. Society to advance must be not a dead form but a living organism, plastic, inviting progress. There are no classes here. There are different occupations and different stations, certainly there can be no class of employer and employed. All true Americans are working for each other, exchanging the results of the efforts of hand and brain wrought through the unconsumed efforts of yesterday, which we call capital, all paying and being paid by each other, serving and being served. To do otherwise is to stand disgraced and alien to our institutions. This means that government must look at the part in the light of the whole, that legislation must be directed not for private interest but for public welfare, and that thereby alone will each of our citizens find their greatest accomplishment and success.



Ronald Reagan’s 1964 RNC Speech



Barry Goldwater’s 1964 RNC Speech



Gore Vidal vs. William F. Buckley Jr. Republican Convention Debate 1



Ronald Reagan’s 1980 RNC Speech



Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

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