America's leaders have failed

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From a speech by Richard Nixon accepting the Republican nomination

for the presidential election

of 1968 with a call

for `honest government'

(8 August 1968)

AS WE look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night. We see Americans dying on distant battlefields abroad.

And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish: "Did we come all this way for this? Did American boys die in Normandy and Korea and in Valley Forge for this?" Listen to the answers to those questions. It is another voice, it is a quiet voice in the tumult of the shouting. It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans.

America's in trouble today not because her people have failed but because her leaders have failed. And what America needs are leaders to match the greatness of her people.

And this great group of Americans - the forgotten Americans and others - know that the great question Americans must answer by their votes in November is this: Whether we shall continue for four more years the policies of the last five years.

My fellow Americans, tonight I accept the challenge and the commitment to provide that new leadership for America and I ask you to accept it with me.

And let us accept this challenge not as a grim duty but as an exciting adventure in which we are privileged to help a great nation realise its destiny, and let us begin by committing ourselves to the truth to see it like it is and tell it like it is, to find the truth, to speak the truth and to live the truth. That's what we will do.

We've had enough of big promises and little action. The time has come for an honest government in the United States of America.

My fellow Americans, I believe that historians will recall that 1968 marked the beginning of the American generation in world history. Just to be alive in America, just to be alive at this time, is an experience unparalleled in history.

Think: 32 years from now most Americans living today will celebrate a New Year that comes once in a thousand years. And by our decision in this year, we - all of us here, all of you listening on television and radio - we will determine what kind of nation America will be. We will determine what kind of a world America will live in in the year 2000.

Tonight, I see the face of a child. He lives in a great city, he's black or he's white, he's Mexican, Italian Polish, none of that matters. What matters: he's an American child.

That child in that great city is more important than any politician's promise. He is America, he is a poet, he is a scientist, he's a great teacher, he's a proud craftsman, he's everything we've ever hoped to be in everything we dare to dream about.

He sleeps the sleep of a child, and he dreams the dreams of a child. And yet when he awakens, he awakens to a living nightmare of poverty, neglect and despair.

He fails in school, he ends up on welfare. For him the American system is one that feeds his stomach and starves his soul. It breaks his heart.

And in the end it may take his life on some distant battlefield. To millions of children in this rich land this is their prospect - but this is only a part of what I see in America.

I see another child tonight. He hears a train go by. At night he dreams of faraway places here he'd like to go. It seems like an impossible dream. But he is helped on his journey through life. A father who had to go to work before he finished the sixth grade sacrificed everything he had so that his sons could go to college.

A gentle Quaker mother with a passionate concern for peace quietly wept when he went to war but she understood why he had to go.

A great teacher, a remarkable football coach, an inspirational minister encouraged him on his way. A courageous wife and loyal children stood by him in victory and also in defeat. And in his chosen profession of politics, first there were scores, then hundreds and then thousands and finally millions who worked for his success.

And tonight he stands before you, nominated for President of the United States of America. You can see why I believe so deeply in the American dream. For most of us the American revolution has been won, the American dream has come true.

What I ask of you tonight is to help me make that dream come true for millions to whom it's an impossible dream today.

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