Jindal says we Must Embrace American Exceptionalism

Jul 6, 2015

These are the remarks, as delivered, by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner, May 16, 2015.

Thank y’all, very, very, much. You know, President Obama has done a lot of damage in his seven years in office. He’s put Obamacare and bureaucrats between doctors and their patients… $18 trillion of debt. He’s imposing Common Core in our classrooms. He’s weakening our foreign policy, refusing to stand by Israel, negotiating a bad deal with Iran. But the greatest damage he is doing, he is in the process of redefining the American dream. He’s redefining the American dream into the European nightmare of government spending and government dependence.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that is not the American dream I learned about from my parents. You see, my parents, they have lived the American dream. My dad’s one of nine. [He] grew up in a house without running water, without electricity. The only one to get past the fifth grade. I know, because we heard these stories every single day growing up. But here is the amazing thing. Over 40 years ago, my parents got on a plane for the first time. They came to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at a time when you couldn’t Google or search online about Baton Rouge, or any other place. They had never even met somebody who had been to Louisiana and could come back and tell them what it was like. They were coming to an idea as much as they were coming to a place. The idea they were coming to was the American dream. They were coming to freedom and opportunity. They weren’t coming for government dependence. My mom went to school at LSU. My dad was at home in their married student apartment looking for a job, literally called company after company in the yellow-pages. I don’t know how long it took him, but he finally convinced somebody at a railroad company to give him a job. Hadn’t even met his new boss, told the guy, “That’s great. I’ll start Monday morning.” Told his new boss, “I don’t have a car. I don’t have a driver’s license. You’re going to have to pick me up on the way to work Monday morning.” And the guy did that. The reason I tell you that, is my dad would teach my brother and me every day. He’d say, “You need to give thanks to God almighty that you are blessed to be born in the greatest country in the history of the world, the United States of America.” I want our children and grandchildren to be able to offer that prayer, and to make sure that they do. It is important. We now have the first President that I can remember that doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism. We must beat Hillary Clinton so that our children and grandchildren can say that same prayer as they grow up as well.

I want to share with you two threats to the American dream. One, external, the second, internal. The first threat is the threat of radical Islamic terrorism. This is no longer simply a threat in Iraq or Syria or even Paris or Australia. We saw with the events in Garland, Texas, this is a threat that has come to the United States, and it is growing. It is a growing threat. Now, I was glad the law enforcement official sent those two terrorists to their afterlife. [I] may have suggested that if you’re going to do foolishness like that you might not want to do it in Texas, Louisiana, or Iowa. I don’t know about y’all, but in our states we view gun control as being able to hit your target that you were aiming at. At the same time we face this threat, we’ve got a President who won’t even identify the threat we face. He, for some reason, refuses to say that this threat is radical Islamic terrorism. I gave a speech several months ago in London, back in January that got the left mad. I stood up there and said that the President needs to do this: He needs to say that Islam has a problem. That problem is radical Islam. And the President needs to call on Muslim clerics and leaders to do more than just condemn generic acts of violence. They must come out and say this: They must say that these individuals, by name, these terrorists are not martyrs going to enjoy a reward in the afterlife. Rather, these terrorists are going straight to hell where they belong. Yet, our President at the national prayer breakfast, you may have seen, instead of talking about that, he was talking about criticizing Christians over the crusades. Well, I’ve got a deal for our Commander in Chief. If he will do his job and protect us from radical Islamic terrorism, hunt down and kill ISIS, I volunteer for the job to be on the lookout for those medieval Christians in case they pose a threat, yet again.

Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal visiting a Des Moines home to record a segment for "Roske on Politics" during his first trip to Iowa after declaring as a presidential candidate.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

The second threat we face perhaps is more dangerous than the first, and it’s an internal threat. I say that because I don’t think America can be beat externally. I do think we can be beat internally. The second threat is the assault on our liberties, and specifically the one I want to talk about today, is the assault on our First Amendment religious liberty rights. Now, the left no longer believes in tolerance. They no longer believe in respecting those they disagree with. You saw this in the Hobby Lobby case. You saw this in the Indiana and Arkansas fights. But, you also saw this more recently when Hillary Clinton said this. She said those of us that are pro-life need to have our religious beliefs changed. Now, I don’t know about you, but my religious beliefs are not between me and Hillary Clinton. My religious beliefs are between me and God, and I don’t care if they make her, or the New York Times, or the radical left unhappy. I’m not changing my religious beliefs for them. You know, I came to accept Christ as a teenager, never in a million years I’d think I’d live to see the day when our own government would try to discriminate against Christians and Christian business owners simply for living their lives according to their sincerely held religious beliefs. You may remember several years ago in a candid moment, President Obama accused us of clinging to our guns and religion. Well, in Louisiana, like in Iowa, we’ve got plenty of guns and religion and Mr. President we’re not giving up either one of those just because you don’t like them.  I’ve got a message for the Hollywood elite, the liberal media, and the President of the United States, and Secretary Clinton. I’ll say it slowly so they can understand it. The United States of America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America and it is the reason we are here today.

Despite the threats we face, I’m here to tell you that America’s best days are ahead of us, not behind us. And the reason our best days are ahead of us is our Founding Fathers got something profoundly important right. They knew the greatness of America is not in our marbled buildings and our government monuments or even in Washington D.C. The greatness of America is in the freedom they entrusted to the entrepreneurs to create something from nothing. The freedom they trusted to moms and dads everywhere to raise their children according to their values. They understood that government wasn’t created to create, to create our rights, but rather was created to secure our God given rights. I have no doubt that America can confront and beat any challenge in front of us.

But there is one final thought I want to share and it is this: We have had a President who has spent his time in office dividing us by race, by gender, by geography. And I know that if we stay united we can defeat any challenge that confronts us. You see, my parents they came over 40 years ago to this country to be Americans.  I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the labels and the hyphenations. We’re not African-Americans. We’re not Indian-Americans. We’re not Asian-Americans. We‘re all Americans. My parents loved their heritage. They love India, but they were coming here to raise their children as Americans. If they didn’t want to do that, they would have stayed in India. We used to proudly call America the great melting-pot. We must not bow to the politically-correct crowd. We must not bow to the left and change this idea of American exceptionalism. I’m here to tell you, I started by saying my dad taught my brother and me to give thanks to God Almighty - we were blessed to be born in the greatest country in the history of the world. I want your children and our grandchildren to be able to say that same prayer. That’s why it is so important. We can beat Hillary. We must beat Hillary. We will beat Hillary. We will take our country back starting in 2016. God bless you and thank you very much for allowing me to come and speak to y’all tonight.