Today in Philadelphia, at the centennial meeting of the National Governor’s Association, President Clinton gave a rousing speech. He quoted liberally from an earlier speech, given 100 years ago by then President Theodore Roosevelt to the same gathering of governors.
Here’s the essence of what Roosevelt said and Clinton repeated:
Disregarding for the moment the question of moral purpose, it is safe to say that the prosperity of our people depends directly on the energy and intelligence with which our natural resources are used. It is equally clear that these resources are the final basis of national power and perpetuity. Finally, it is ominously evident that these resources are in the course of rapid exhaustion.
We have become great in a material sense because of the lavish use of our resources; and we have just reason to be proud of our growth. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils shall have been still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields, and obstructing navigation. These questions do not relate only to the next century or to the next generation. One distinguishing characteristic of really civilized men is foresight; we have to, as a nation, exercise foresight for this nation in the future; and if we do not exercise that foresight, dark will be the future!
We are coming to recognize as never before the right of the Nation to guard it’s own future in the essential matter of natural resources. In the past we have admitted the right of the individual to injure the future of the Republic for his own present profit. In fact there has been a good deal of a demand for unrestricted individualism, for the right of the individual to injure the future of all of us for his own temporary and immediate profit. The time has come for a change.
Can you imagine if this type of conservative existed today? We’d be in much better shape if such persons did exist (in either political party). Since, for the most part, they do not exist, we the people must carry the weight. We the people must refuse to allow unrestricted individualism. Regulation of industry in not bad, it’s necessary for the common good (an American ideal if there ever was one). Reagan and his ilk convinced a lot of people regulation of industry was wrong, but it’s time to move past that false ideal. Unrestricted individualism, perpetrated by a greedy man or a mob of greedy men, is in fact the ruin of this nation. Are you ready to put a stop it? I am.