Park Gillespie has won the title of "American Candidate" after receiving the most votes on the Showtime reality show of the same name. The 38 year-old school teacher from Stanley, North Carolina was announced the winner during the final episode of the show Sunday night. Following is a transcript of his acceptance speech.
Two hundred and thirty years ago, our country was founded by God-fearing, God-honoring people who envisioned a land where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could be more than just concepts inked onto parchment. In the decades since then, other men and women of passion and principle have spent their energy, their ideas, their sweat – and yes, sometimes their blood – to help ensure that the United States remains the freest, finest nation on Earth.
Park and his running mate, James Dockery were classmates with me at Bob Jones University. I am proud of both of them. I must admit I am surprised to see this as the outcome. Yet, Park was convinced that it was God who gave him the opportunity and God who willed the outcome.
But the battle is far from over, my friends. We are a country at war. A country in which far too many people worry far too often about how to make ends meet. A country where the family, the building block of every civilized society since the dawn of time, is in danger of being radically redefined. We are a nation at a crossroads, and if we do not live up to the principles at our core -- the principles hard-wired into us by our Creator -- we are in danger of paying a price we never thought we’d have to pay.
I say that tonight knowing some of you disagree with me about what the right path is. I have enjoyed debating the direction we ought to take with you; but let’s commit to conduct that debate with kindness in our hearts, while heeding the better angels of our nature. This is important not only in politics, but in race relations, as well: We need to work with each other, because when we do, we will discover that far more unites us than divides us.
I also know there are those of you who share the values I’ve spent the last 10 weeks talking about, from New Hampshire to Washington. I know we share these values because you’ve humbled me with your help in getting me here tonight. Frank Luntz, Ed Rollins, Sue Myrick, Keith Larson and Interactive Political Media – I thank you and so many others from the bottom of my heart for your support.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we meet here tonight, somewhere in the world there are people plotting to kill us. They are, as the president has said, evil men. Government must be prepared to protect us from these men today, and must plan to defend us against them tomorrow, and that’s why I support legislation to give law enforcement the tools to keep terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in the history books and out of the newspapers. National security, you see, must be addressed over generations with the same kind of moral clarity we mustered to take on slavery, Nazism, and Communism. Great Britain learned that truth all too well at the outset of World War II, and that nation only survived because the appeaser Chamberlain was replaced by the warrior Churchill. Let’s learn from our ally’s mistake, not repeat it.
Let’s talk for a minute about another kind of security – economic security. Government must help American families on this front, as well. And please understand, when I say “help” I mean a hand up, not a handout. Government is not the solution: Its job is to provide the tools, and then to get out of the way so that we can do the hammering and the sawing and the painting necessary to put our financial house in order.
A good place to start is to create a business-friendly environment. We are doubly and triply taxing goods and services, and – as a result – companies are outsourcing jobs overseas. Seventy percent of jobs in the United States are created by small businesses, and those businesses must be unshackled so that they, and their employees, can prosper.
An overhaul of the tax system for individuals is in order, too. Were it not for the Bush administration tax cuts, everyday Americans like me – a public schoolteacher whose $2,200 of take-home pay each month gets tugged on six ways -- would have little hope of achieving the American Dream. That’s why it is imperative that the provisions of the Bush tax-relief plan – like abolishing the marriage penalty -- be made permanent. And innovative ideas like a national sales tax and a flat tax must also be explored.
And then there is the security of the family. This is an especially important issue for me not only because Tammy and I have four daughters, but also because, as a middle-school teacher for the past 16 years, I have had the honor of helping shape the lives of more than 1,500 boys and girls. And I’m here to tell you that the breakdown of the family – in addition to being the No. 1 problem facing our educational system – is tearing them apart.
It is not, of course, government’s responsibility to raise our children. That’s our job. But marriage is a public/private partnership: It is a contract between the government and each couple to do what the state cannot – to raise and prepare the next generation to fight the battles of freedom. And on that score, ladies and gentlemen, government has a lot of work to do. For the last 30 years – from the legalization of abortion to the push to redefine marriage – government has too often worked against families. The chief offender? The courts.
Jefferson warned of an oligarchy, the rule of a few; he taught us that without the consent of the governed, those who govern have no moral or legal authority. And that’s just what we’re on the verge of creating in this country: Unelected, unaccountable judges are making laws the people would never pass. For example, wherever voters have had the chance to speak on same-sex marriage – by supermajorities in Alaska and Nevada, Hawaii and Louisiana, Missouri and California – they have affirmed the institution as the union of one man and one woman. That’s the way it’s supposed to be in a government of the people, by the people, for the people; no matter what you believe on this issue, the people must be allowed to speak.
Legalizing same-sex marriage – which Massachusetts did this year and which every state in the union could be forced to do if the judicial tyrants have their way – could strike a crippling blow to families. Study after study has found that boys and girls not raised by both their biological parents are much more likely to suffer abuse, perform poorly in school, abuse drugs and alcohol and wind up in trouble with the law.
Did our Founders fight and die to wrest their liberty from a tyrannical king, only to hand it to a group of black-robed judges? Should the desires of adults ever trump what’s best for kids? The needs of our most vulnerable must come first.
I recognize, again, that there are people would answer these questions differently. To you I say, “This is who I am.” When I got into this competition, I promised not to compromise what I know to be true in order to win a few votes. Politics ought to be about more than that; it ought to be about public service, not public relations. Anything less is a violation of the principles on which our nation was founded.
I believe in those principles. I believe they are what makes America great. And, let me say here, I believe they are most fully embodied in the real presidential election by George W. Bush – and that’s why I ask you tonight to join me in voting for his re-election. Because, with strong moral leadership and a spirit of cooperation, we can prevail in the battle to preserve these principles, to provide for the national security, the economic security, and the family security of all of us blessed enough to call ourselves American citizens.
I tell you tonight, my friends, I am blessed to call myself an American citizen. I am blessed to call myself your “American Candidate.” And, more than anything, I am blessed to call myself a child and disciple of my precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.May He bless you … and may He continue to bless the United States of America.