Congressman (and announced republican U.S. Senate candidate) Roy Blunt addressed the participants attending Missouri Boys State in Hendricks Hall on the campus of the University of Central Missouri on Saturday evening.
Congressman Roy Blunt on the stage at Hendricks Hall on the campus of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
Congressman Roy Blunt:….And we’ve had periods in our history when the legislative branch got too strong, particularly right after the Civil War. We’ve had periods where the executive branch got too strong. But somehow that unique document has managed to, to calibrate itself. In a way that not only made the government control itself, uh, but also, uh, allowed our government to meet new demands that weren’t anticipated. Uh, that allowed our government to move forward in the world.
And there is, there is no country in the world like us. You know, we, we live on this, on, on this little planet that gets smaller and smaller all the time. Uh, but, uh, and I’m glad to live on the planet, but I don’t consider myself a citizen of the world. I’m a citizen of the United States of America. And as a citizen of the United States of America I both have opportunities and obligations that are unique to me…
Boys State citizens applaud Congressman Blunt before the start of his adddress.
…Uh, you know, I’ve, I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life. I’ve had great opportunities. I’ve had great, uh, chances to do things. Uh, but when, you know, my mom and dad brought me home, I was born in the doctor’s office. They brought me home to a house, long time ago by your standards, uh, in a, fifty-nine years ago, that didn’t have running water, that didn’t have central heat. Uh, uh, nobody in my, I was the first person in my family to ever go to college. Uh, and I have just had, because of where we live, and because of the great opportunity available to everybody, not only opportunities for myself, but the opportunity to sit on the front steps of the capitol and watch my son sworn in as, as governor. To see all of my kids go, go to school and take leadership responsibilities. Uh, to see all of those things happen.
And to watch our country step forward in your lifetime and mine and selflessly do things that no other country, uh, is willing to do. The things we’re doing today in Iraq and Afghanistan. The longer we’re there the clearer it becomes that we’re not, it’s not about the oil. It’s not about, uh, trying to expand American power. It, it’s about trying to insure that other people have the freedom we have. And also, it’s about protecting who we are.
You know the number one obligation of the federal government is to defend the country. Abraham Lincoln said in eighteen sixty, uh, that government, he was trying to explain this new party that he was part of, it’s the party I’m still part of, but I think a lot of Americans in both parties [garbled] agree with this Lincolnian concept. In eighteen sixty in the only speech he made outside of the state of Illinois, and I’m not sure he made very many speeches in Illinois because you didn’t campaign for president the way people do now. He went to New York. He wasn’t really considered at that time, early eighteen sixty, a very serious candidate for president, he gave a speech at a place called the Cooper’s Union. And in that speech, he was trying to explain this division of this new political party. And [garbled] said government should do for people only those things that people cannot better do for themselves. I’d like to ask you to think about that for just a minute. We’re going to get to some questions and answers here in a minute. But what kind of, government should do for people only those things that people cannot better do for themselves.
And there are a few of those things [garbled]. Defending the country would be right at the top of the list. You and I cannot individually decide that we’re going to defend the country. We can’t individually decide that we’re gonna have treaties and relationships and trade and other things with, with other nations. Uh, but the philosophy that Lincoln put forth is largely the philosophy that’s made us who we are. Uh, that government is designed to do things that we can’t do for ourselves. But we’re designed to do things we can do for ourselves.
And the American, the American nation is strong because the American people have always been competitive, and hard working, and willing to take responsibility, uh, and didn’t turn to government as the first place to solve their problems, but has traditionally turned to government as the last place. You know, if, I, and, and the federal government last among those. If I can’t solve, if I can’t solve the problem, uh, in my own family and my own community, uh, if it’s a problem that’s too big for me and it’s, maybe it’s a problem that only government can solve, you know, most Americans personally, okay, let’s solve that, problems are solved best where they’re, where you have the, the closest government to you. Your city, your county, maybe if they can’t do it, your state. And only if those things fail, you want to get those solutions way away from you, in, in my view, and I think, the history of our country, uh, to, to, to the federal government in Washington, D.C. It better be a very big problem before you assume that the best place to solve it is Washington, D.C. And hopefully, it’s a problem that we determined couldn’t be solved anywhere else.
That’s why we have this unique system. You’re, you’re at Boys State. Most countries don’t have a Boys State because they don’t have anything like our concept of states. You’re at Boys State and, you know, Jefferson said, in this federal system, this new system, the states could uniquely be laboratories for change. The states, at that time he was talking about thirteen states, the thirteen states could try things and do things and experiment with their, their governments. And if it worked other states could copy it. Uh, but there was no early sense that the federal government was gonna control everything. There was an early sense that the federal government would control a few things. And control them well. And that other levels of government would do other things and most things would be left to the people. Your responsibility for yourself, your family, your livelihood, your health is, is first yours.
You know the first Department of Health, Education, and Wel, Welfare was the family. And not every family works the way it should. And when families don’t work the way it should government over the years has figured out that the government could step in and try to make those fam, those things work better. But nobody ever said that their, that, uh, that any government program was as good for the things families are supposed to do, as a family that’s doing what a family is supposed to do. And again, government closest to the problem is most likely to have the best solution. Where you go to school, you’re much more likely to get a solution that’s good for your school at the school board level than you are from Jefferson City, and more likely to get a good solution from Jefferson City than you are from Washington, D.C. Closer you are to, to the challenge to be met, the more likely you’re gonna meet that challenge in a common sense way, uh, that solves the problem the most effectively, the most efficiently, the most economically, and creates opportunity.
And this is a country of great opportunity. And, I was standing over here on the sidelines listening to our friends from the American Legion who, for seventy years, have thought it was important
to get the best of Missouri boys to Boys State. Uh, to get them ready to accept the leadership responsibilities of the future. And almost everybody that talked tonight, as I was listening, as they were talking to you, as you kick off Boys State, thoughts about the importance of being a leader. Uh, and some of you will be political leaders, some of you will be leaders in medicine, some of you will be leaders in law, some of you will be leaders in agriculture. Uh, we need leaders in the country and this is a great week for you to think about how to do that, uh, how to lead in the groups you’re in. And to figure out what your role is this week. And it may be different, uh, than your role ten years from now. You know, Matt Blunt was not governor of Boys State, but he was governor of our state. Uh, my, my son Andy who’s a lawyer in Jefferson City, I think was on the Supreme Court at Boys State. I guess he might be on the Supreme Court some day but, the point is, that there are different leadership opportunities that come along.
So, I am glad to be here with you. I’m glad to be here to start this exciting week in your life. And I’m glad to be here because some of you are gonna be here, uh, in the future, just as these men were tonight, who came to Boys State as Boys Staters and over and over and over again have come back to see the rising generation of leaders from our state. Selected, mostly because of your school, you were thought to be the, the, one of the people who most likely to be an important leader of the future. Uh, so thanks for letting me be here. One of the best things about Boys State is the chance to just talk now about what you want to talk about. And I’d be glad to do that for a few minutes….