From the Pollak for Congress campaign (9th District)...
Today I am pleased to welcome Prof. Alan Dershowitz to Chicago, and humbled to receive his endorsement in the race for the 9th congressional district. It is an honor to be one of the few Republicans that Prof. Dershowitz, a life-long Democrat, has supported. And it is a privilege to welcome a sold-out audience to our fundraising luncheon today-200 enthusiastic supporters from both sides of the political divide.
Prof. Dershowitz is an inspiration to me, and to so many others. His book Chutzpah was the first political work I ever read. Later, at Harvard, I was his student and research assistant. We have worked together in debating the fiercest enemies of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Whether standing up for Israel or standing up against corruption, I have tried to emulate Prof. Dershowitz's courage, and his refusal to yield to political bullying.
As Prof. Dershowitz has said this week, he is supporting me because he believes that voters should elect the best candidate, regardless of party. He is also here because we share a commitment to the true values of human rights and civil liberties. We also share the view that America's relationship with Israel must remain strong. And we share the belief that it is important to defend freedom from those enemies who wish to destroy it.
I'd like to quote a famous observer of our contemporary world: "[A]t no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today... [W]hen the dictators-if the dictators-are ready to make war on us, they will not wait for an act of war on our part... Their only interest is in a new one-way international law which lacks mutuality in its observance and therefore becomes an instrument of oppression."
That was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his famous "Four Freedoms" speech in January 1941. He understood the danger that Americans faced from dictators who threatened our allies and abused international law to justify their hatred and aggression. He was the archetypal liberal president-yet he knew it was not America's fault that our enemies made war on democracy. He tried to warn us to be prepared. He was right.
Today we are told to believe that America and Israel are to blame for the war against us, and that we must find a way to accommodate nuclear proliferation and terror. That is not a liberal approach. It is a radical one. It is also a dangerous approach, when we face an unprecedented threat-not just a nuclear Iran, not just a terrorist jihad, but an assault that claims legitimacy in international law and the protection of international institutions.
My opponent has taken the wrong approach. She supports J Street, which blames Israel first. She has raised money with Helen Thomas, despite knowing her anti-Israel views. She flew to Honduras to embrace Manuel Zelaya, after he blamed Israel for his ouster from office. Last month, she told an audience at a synagogue that Jerusalem is a settlement. Those are radical, not liberal, views. They are not the views of our district.
Many of those who are joining Prof. Dershowitz and me today are Democrats who are backing a Republican for the first time. I myself was once a Democrat, and as a college student I worked for some very liberal Democrats. I became a Republican several years ago, only partly because of foreign policy. The main reason was that I no longer believed in big government as the solution to our economic and social problems.
As a Rotary scholar in South Africa, I tutored students in one of the poorest townships in Cape Town. Almost everyone lived in shacks, though they had a constitutional right to housing. The government promised to build houses, but knocked down the homes people built themselves. When a new government finally let the community make its own plans and control its own housing budget, new brick houses sprang up overnight.
Experiences like that have taught me that people-especially the poor-benefit most when we are free to make our own choices. I understand the feelings of those who want government to be a force for good. There are times when government is urgently needed, as in the oil spill today. But with limited resources, government must prioritize. A government that tries to do more than it should will fail to do the things that it must.
I have also seen that more government control means more opportunities for corruption. In Chicago, we have a certain tolerance for corruption, as long as the trash gets taken out. Yet today, as the Blagojevich trial unfolds, and in the midst of a budget crunch at every level, we are starting to understand that corruption has a cost. It means less money for teachers' salaries. It means fewer jobs, as businesses leave our community.
I saw the costs of corruption firsthand, when my father fought corruption in the organ allocation network. He was told he had to learn to practice medicine "the Chicago way." He refused, and fought a battle that lasted several years. In the end, he prevailed. But it was difficult-not just for our family, but for the families of those who did not receive life-saving transplants because someone richer or more prominent was bumped up the list.
I know what it takes to fight corruption. I want Congress to do more to protect whistle-blowers in government and in the private sector. More than that, I want to change the way Congress operates, by creating more checks and balances within the legislature itself. We can learn from other democracies, where the minority party is given the power to lead ethics investigations. That kind of reform will restore public trust in our leaders.
My opponent will not stand up against corruption. She cannot, because she is too close to the politicians that support it and the people who benefit from it. She was a strong ally of Rod Blagojevich, and was Senate candidate no. 3 in the original indictment. In recent days, she has tried to use her power to get Illinois taxpayers to bail out a failing bank to which she has close personal and political connections. We can no longer tolerate that.
I have a fundamental philosophical difference with my opponent: I believe the job of a congressman is to represent the district in Washington, not Washington to the district. I believe we must reduce the deficit by cutting spending, not raising taxes. I believe we must create jobs by encouraging small business, not punishing success. I believe that our freedom depends on our willingness to defend it-and to defend allies like Israel.
We are making history in the 9th district. You don't have to take my word for it-you can listen to my opponent, who told the Evanston Democratic Party on Sunday that she is facing a competitive race for the first time. You can look around the room today, and see how many Democrats and independents are supporting my campaign. We started from scratch just a few months ago, and today we are helping to lead the national debate.
This race is important, because we are showing that even Chicago can move beyond the "Chicago way." We are showing that people of different political backgrounds can come together in support of fiscal responsibility, job creation, and national security. And we are showing that there are political consequences for an incumbent who refuses to stand with her constituents in defending the U.S and Israel against our shared enemies.
Our district needs a fresh start. We want to get back to the basics that built our city and our country. We want to build a future that is defined by freedom and opportunity, not by debt and insecurity. All we need is the courage to do it. That is what Prof. Dershowitz has shown today, by endorsing my campaign. I am deeply grateful for his support, and the support of so many others, who are helping in so many ways. Together, we will win!