Editor’s Note: A transcript of the speech Rep. John Fleming gave at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference yesterday in Washington, DC.
It’s an honor to be here with you today. I remember during the days I played football—that sign that hung over the locker room door. It said, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
It’s been tough going for this nation the last seven years under Barack Obama and Republicans seem not so tough in standing up for you against him. You are demanding change, the kind of change Ronald Reagan, who we are celebrating now at CPAC, brought to this nation. One change we’re all anxious for is the change in Presidency in exactly 322 days and 7 hours, but who’s counting?
That’s what driving people like you and me to be so angry and frustrated with both parties in Washington. They seem to both want big government—they just fight over which party should be running it! It is just this frustration that led me to help found the Freedom Caucus, a band of brothers that led to sweeping change to our House leadership.
Knowing that we would be subject to severe punishment from our leadership and having no assurance of success, more than once fellow Freedom Caucus members uttered the famous words of Ben Franklin. “We must hang together or assuredly we shall hang separately.” So, just as our Founding Fathers had no guarantee of success—just the hope of freedom and liberty and the idea of this great nation—that was true of the Freedom Caucus as well. Only through bold, courageous leadership demonstrated by the Freedom Caucus will our country be changed for the better.
Last year we Freedom Caucus members decided we had had enough of un-kept promises to do the people’s business. We shook the House and achieved a historic change when we successfully forced the Speaker of the House to resign! Now, how’s that for real change?
Under the most liberal President in history, this nation has suffered the passage of damaging legislation that has flattened our economy and drained our freedoms—like ObamaCare, big corporate bailouts, and oppressive regulations. You cried out to Republicans for change and they said we must have a majority in Congress, first. You gave Republicans that majority and did anything change? (No!).
Don’t you think we should start a Freedom Caucus in the Senate? In case the Senate leadership hasn’t noticed, people are still angry and frustrated, and demand that they keep their promises, too.
Next year as the new Senator from Louisiana, I will force a vote to repeal ObamaCare—lock, stock and barrel, and send it to the new Republican President to sign! I will do the same to shut down funding of nonsense regulations from the EPA and other agencies, and crackdown on bureaucrats who mistreat our wonderful veterans. And I will work everyday to get government out of the lives of ordinary Americans, especially the job creators, our entrepreneurs.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, I am a product of that story. Born into a working class family, my first job was at age 14 when I planned to used the family lawnmower to cut grass for cash. Since the mower was a clunker I asked dad to buy a new one. Instead he co-signed a loan for me to purchase it requiring me to pay for it from the business proceeds and I had to mow his lawn for free. That first job taught me the principles that I used to later build a private medical practice after 6 years as a Navy medical officer, and build a non-medical business that employees over 500 Louisianans today. But that common American story seems to be fading for many into the past. So, is there hope for the future?
Freedom-loving people like you and I can make a difference. Republicans can win back the trust of you and people like you across the country if they demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are willing and able to return power from Washington to the American people…if we are willing to trust and listen to you once again.
And, like Ben Franklin and the Freedom Caucus, if we hang together, we will bring that change to Washington because the fate of our nation and that special idea of America sparked in the hearts of our Founders, hangs in the balance.