SPEECH AT REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS' CONFERENCE,
PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA
Federal, State and Local Relationships
December 6, 1968
Almost two centuries ago Thomas Jefferson surveyed America's
political system and judged: "With all the imperfections of our
present government, it is without comparison the best existing, or
that ever did exist. "
Jefferson's evaluation is still applicable. We are still a nation puls-
ing with life — a nation of enormous potential. Anyone who feels
qualms about the vitality of this constitutional republic should
sometime be privileged to sit in an executive session at a Governors'
conference. He would have his faith restored in short order could
he but observe the vigor, thrust, and determination of the Governors
as they dissect the perplexing problems of the day with the candor
that only a closed session allows.
But, while we can still agree with Jefferson's observation, there is
evidence that we can and must achieve a more perfect union.
We have come a long way from the agrarian society of the Found-
ing Fathers. Today's challenge is to make adjustments within the
American political system — "the best existing or that ever did
exist" — so as to preserve, or create where necessary, a sense of purpose
and identity for the individual. In a world that has become increas-
ingly industrialized, computerized and dehumanized, lack of identity
and despair most often result in anti-social acts. Involvement in the
system releases energy and talent in productive undertakings.
Even now, too many of our citizens are failing to relate to their
government and, in a democracy, this can prove a fatal flaw. But that
is a wide subject for another speech at another time.
The first step is bringing the people back in touch with their gov-
ernment and this involves bringing the government back to the people.
Over the past decades, national leadership, in its attempt to keep
pace with America's rapid growth, has sought the easiest and most
expedient method — expanding the Federal government. The result
has been a creeping paternalism that has violated our Federal system,
sacrificed the integrity and capacity of state governments, and re-
duced citizen participation in the political process.