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Sen. Rand Paul's Speech at Howard University

By Sen. Rand Paul - April 10, 2013

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Big government relies on the Federal Reserve, our central bank, to print money out of thin air. Printing money out of thin air leads to higher prices.

When the price of gas rises to $4 per gallon, it is a direct result of our nation’s debt. When food prices rise, it is a direct result of the $50,000 we borrow each second. Inflation hurts everyone, particularly the poor.

If you are struggling to get ahead, if you have school loans and personal debt, you should choose a political party that wants to leave more money in the private sector so you will get a job when the time comes.

Some Republicans, let’s call them the moss-covered variety, mistake war for defense. They forget that Reagan argued for Peace through strength, not War through strength.

The old guard argues for arms for Ghaddafi and then the following year for boots on the ground to defeat Ghaddafi.

I want you to know that all Republicans do not clamor for war, that many Republicans believe in a strong national defense that serves to preserve the Peace.

In Louisville, in the predominantly African American west end of town, it was recently announced that 18 schools are failing. The graduation rate is 40%.

The head of Kentucky’s education called it academic genocide. Johns Hopkins researchers call these schools dropout factories.

I defy anyone to watch Waiting for Superman and honestly argue against school choice.

A minister friend of mine in the West End calls school choice the civil rights issue of the day. He’s absolutely right.

By the sixth grade, Ronald Holasie was failing most of his classes, but through school choice he was able to attend a Catholic school in the DC area.

There he learned that he had a natural gift for composing music, but before that, his reading level was so low that he had struggled to write lyrics. Ronald then went on to matriculate at Barry University.

There are countless examples of the benefits of school choice - where kids who couldn’t even read have turned their lives completely around.

Maybe it’s about time we all reassess blind allegiance to ideas that are failing our children.

Every child in every neighborhood, of every color, class and background, deserves a school that will help them succeed.

Those of you assembled today are American success stories. You will make it and do great things.

In every neighborhood, white, black or brown, there are kids who are not succeeding because they messed up.

They had kids before they were married, or before they were old enough to support them, or they got hooked on drugs, or they simply left school.

Republicans are often miscast as uncaring or condemning of kids who make bad choices. I, for one, plan to change that.

I am working with Democratic senators to make sure that kids who make bad decisions such as non-violent possession of drugs are not imprisoned for lengthy sentences.

I am working to make sure that first time offenders are put into counseling and not imprisoned with hardened criminals.

We should not take away anyone’s future over one mistake.

Let me tell you the tale of two young men. Both of them made mistakes. Both of them were said to have used illegal drugs.

One of them was white and from a privileged background. He had important friends, and an important father and an important grandfather. You know, the kind of family who university’s name dorms after.

The family had more money than they could count. Drugs or no drugs, his family could buy justice if he needed it.

The other man also used illegal drugs, but he was of mixed race and from a single parent household, with little money. He didn’t have important friends or a wealthy father.

Now, you might think I’m about to tell you a story about racism in America, where the rich white kid gets off and the black kid goes to jail.

It could well be, and often is, but that is not this story. In this story, both young men were extraordinarily lucky. Both young men were not caught. They weren’t imprisoned.

Instead, they both went on to become Presidents of the United States.

Barack Obama and George Bush were lucky. The law could have put both of them away for their entire young adulthood. Neither one would have been employable, much less president.

Some argue with evidence that our drug laws are biased-that they are the new Jim Crow.

But to simply be against them for that reason misses a larger point. They are unfair to EVERYONE, largely because of the one size fits all federal mandatory sentences.

Our federal mandatory minimum sentences are simply heavy handed and arbitrary. They can affect anyone at any time, though they disproportionately affect those without the means to fight them.

We should stand and loudly proclaim enough is enough. We should not have laws that ruin the lives of young men and women who have committed no violence.

That’s why I have introduced a bill to repeal federal mandatory minimum sentences. We should not have drug laws or a court system that disproportionately punishes the black community.

The history of African-American repression in this country rose from government-sanctioned racism.

Jim Crow laws were a product of bigoted state and local governments.

Big and oppressive government has long been the enemy of freedom, something black Americans know all too well.

We must always embrace individual liberty and enforce the constitutional rights of all Americans-rich and poor, immigrant and native, black and white.

Such freedom is essential in achieving any longstanding health and prosperity.

As Toni Morrison said, write your own story. Challenge mainstream thought.

I hope that some of you will be open to the Republican message that favors choice in education, a less aggressive foreign policy, more compassion regarding non-violent crime and encourages opportunity in employment.

And when the time is right, I hope that African Americans will again look to the party of emancipation, civil liberty, and individual freedom. 

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Rand Paul is a U.S. senator from Kentucky.

Sen. Rand Paul

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