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November 3, 2021

Nikki Haley Delivers Speech At The Heritage Foundation

"No U-Turn"

The Margaret Thatcher Lecture
The Heritage Foundation
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021

Full speech transcript:

Steve, thank you. And thank you to the Heritage Foundation for hosting me. 

It is always great to be back with my friends at Heritage.

Few places have done so much to defend the principles that have lifted up so many and made America so great. And few places are more needed right now, because across the country, those same principles are being thrown out and replaced. 

Capitalism is a case in point. 

I speak about this topic often, for a good reason.

Capitalism is the greatest driver of prosperity and destroyer of poverty in history. It’s the single best way to help families, boost wages, create jobs, and discover the breakthroughs that improve all our lives. Now more than ever, the hopes and dreams of every American depend on economic freedom.

Yet just steps from here, the most liberal President and Congress in history are fighting hard to end that freedom. Last year, I said 2020 was the year socialism went mainstream. 2021 is the year socialism took control.

The left is tearing down the American people. Yet too many on the right are rolling over, when we should be fighting back. 

Capitalism is on the outs for many conservatives who should know better. They look at a rapidly changing world, and assume  our principles don’t work anymore. They see the rise of socialism and want to meet it halfway.

They’re wrong.

The right must recapture its passion for economic freedom. 

It’s the only way to stop the socialist wave crashing over our country. And it’s the proven way to give the American people the life they deserve. The time has come to bring capitalism back.

Inspiring leaders show the way. In fact, the namesake of the “Margaret Thatcher Lecture” is the best model. 

Forty-one years ago, in October of 1980, the Iron Lady taught us a great lesson. It came about a year-and-a-half into her first term, when things were going badly. 

The United Kingdom in the late 1970s was much further down the road to socialism than the United States is today. The biggest industries were government owned. Corrupt labor unions trampled workers and job creators. Politicians bought votes with enormous entitlements and unaffordable promises. 

It was Bernie Sanders’ dream. But for the British, it was a nightmare. 

Much of the damage will sound familiar. 

Inflation soared 

The economy stagnated. 

Taxes crushed families and small businesses alike.

Because of socialism, the United Kingdom was on the road to ruin. 

Then Margaret Thatcher hit the brakes.

She knew the truth: Socialism steals the people’s strength, while capitalism unleashes it. 

She promised to restore capitalism – full stop. And she did.

She shrank the size of the state and grew the people’s freedom. 

She got rid of nationalized companies and ripped up restrictions on competition. 

She empowered millions of families to buy a home, something socialism made impossible. 

More importantly, she gave them something they had lost – hope. 

It was nothing less than a revolution. 

With the benefit of hindsight, we know Margaret Thatcher’s leadership worked. But by the fall of 1980, that wasn’t obvious yet. The Prime Minister understood that socialism had taken a massive toll, and that undoing the damage would take more than a year-and-a-half. Not everyone agreed with her.

Unsurprisingly, liberals and the British media howled. They accused Thatcher of attacking workers, crippling families, and not caring for the poor. 

But liberals weren’t the only ones. Many of her fellow conservatives headed for the tall grass. 

They spent so long living under socialism, they forgot their own principles. And when the media piled on – which always happens – those bedwetting conservatives got scared. They joined the liberal chorus in calling for Margaret Thatcher to make, and I quote, a “U-Turn.”

Here’s what they meant. Since Thatcher’s free-market policies had not yet succeeded, they wanted her to head back in the other direction. The socialistdirection. Thus, the “U-turn.” The phrase was all the rage at the time. 

But Thatcher refused to go along. Instead, she rose to say what her country needed to hear.

The setting was the Tory Party Conference. Every conservative member of Parliament was there, including those who thought she was wrong. 

When Thatcher took the stage, she struck a defiant tone. She acknowledged a “winter of discontent,” but also spoke of an “autumn of understanding” regarding socialism’s failures. 

And then she brought down the hammer – like only Margaret Thatcher could. 

She said, quote, “We shall not be diverted from our course. To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the ‘U’ turn, I have only one thing to say. ‘You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.’”

You know what happened next. Margaret Thatcher made NO U-turn. Instead, her embrace of economic freedom turned the corner for the U.K, and turned around the lives and futures of millions of people who’d suffered so much from socialism.

Four decades later, we could use some of Thatcher’s steely confidence and moral conviction. We’re headed down the road to socialism ourselves. 

A funny thing happens anytime a Republican brings up socialism. The media loses its mind. 

They shout and scream and say we’re lying. They point to the time Joe Biden said, “I am not a socialist,” and demand we take him at his word. 

Well, I don’t care what he says. I care what he does. What Joe Biden is doing is socialism, plain and simple. The Democratic Party is now a socialist party.

Democrats are on the verge of creating the first cradle-to-grave welfare state in American history. They’re creating a country where dependency is the default. It’s a guaranteed recipe for national decline.

Instead of empowering workers and families, the left is empowering unelected bureaucrats. So-called experts, elites, and government do-gooders have never had more power to destroy jobs they don’t like, hurt families they don’t know, and create one-size-fits-all mandates for situations they don’t understand.

This government takeover isn’t cheap. Democrats are pushing the biggest and most destructive tax hike in American history. 

Working middle class families will pay once in higher taxes, twice through lower wages, and three times when the bill comes due for the trillions of dollars that Democrats are adding to the national debt. Such are the wages of socialism.

And what are families getting in return? Nothing good. The tax-and-spending binge is driving the worst inflation in over a decade. At the gas station, the grocery store, and online checkouts, families are paying more but getting less. 

It’s time to face the truth: Spending trillions of dollars won’t solve our problems. Spending trillions of dollars is the problem.

These policies are bad enough. What’s worse is the worldview behind them. Socialism is fundamentally at odds with America’s guiding principles.

Our country was built on a profound belief in people. We know that everyone has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and we know that when people have access to those rights, they’re capable of achieving extraordinary things. Our history proves it. 

We’ve fought hard to extend our founding promise to all, especially those who’ve been deliberately overlooked and unjustly excluded. And it turns out our belief in people is well-placed. If the past 250 years prove anything, it’s that no force on earth is more powerful than the collective genius of the American people. 

But socialism says the opposite. It doesn’t believe in people; it believes in power. It doesn’t want an experiment in self-government; it wants an experiment in government control. 

Socialism says a select few people in Washington, D.C. are smarter and better than the 331 million people who call this country home. It trusts central planners, not citizens, to determine America’s fate. We thought it was bad when Barack Obama said, “you didn’t build that.” Today’s Democrats say, “don’t even try to build that, just trust us.”

This sad worldview is already holding America back.

Our students are being taught, as young as kindergarten, that hard work doesn’t matter. Or worse, that America is racist.

And worst of all, our fellow citizens are being told they’re victims with no control over their own lives and destinies. 

I can’t imagine a more dangerous way of thinking. It says to a single mom, give up, and let welfare take care of you. It says to a laid-off worker, don’t try, we’ll pay you to stay home. It says to a student, don’t strive or learn, you can’t get ahead because the country is rigged. And it says to all of us, don’t bother to dream – government’s got this. 

That’s the greatest tragedy of all. We can add up socialism’s cost in dollars and cents. But we will never know its human cost. 

Socialism isn’t progressive. It’s backwards. And it has no place in America – not now, not ever.

Defeating socialism is a moral necessity. It starts by retiring Nancy Pelosi in 2022 and Joe Biden in 2024. 

Yet winning elections isn’t enough. Stopping the left won’t matter if the right has forgotten what it stands for.

It pains me to see some of our friends turning their backs on our principles. They’re similar to the frightened Tories Margaret Thatcher faced in 1980.

You know what I’m talking about. The conservatives who claim capitalism no longer works. They conclude that economic freedom fails families and hurtsworkers. So they’re trying to create a hybrid capitalism – a hyphenated capitalism. 

It’s all a sham.

Tear off the window dressing, and they’re calling for more mandates, more rules, and more government control of the economy and daily life. They want to create more welfare programs and accelerate government spending. It’s unthinkable, but they’re fine with less personal freedom and more government power. 

That’s not capitalism. It’s socialism lite

There was a time when conservatives understood that. In fact there used to be a name for it – the “dime store New Deal.” It’s nothing more than bigger government, just not as big as the socialists want.

Good luck with that. Conservatives will never outbid the left when it comes to growing government. Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are proving that. If all we’re offering is a cheaper welfare state, or slightly less bad mandates, we will lose. If the American people are asked to pick between actual socialism and a watered-down version, they’ll choose the real thing. 

Conservatives should know better. Don’t cave – not now, not ever. There’s no crying in politics. We have to fight. We have to offer a clear and compelling alternative. And we don’t have to wonder what that alternative is. It’s capitalism!

You know who else should know better? Corporate America. But they’ve decided to take the lazy, cowardly route.

The C-Suite has rallied behind its own form of “socialism lite.” They call it “stakeholder capitalism.” When you unpack it, it’s nothing more than a desperate attempt to make the left happy. Companies should be fighting for economic freedom, not bowing to government. Yet corporate boards won’t defend the very principles that allow their business and their employees to succeed.  They are too scared to defend what they know works.

Look, I get it. They think it’s good for business to have the media pat them on the head and say, “you’re better than the rest of those crazies.” 

But cable TV applause and cocktail party praise don’t matter. What matters is lifting up the American people. Socialism and socialism lite can never do that. Capitalism can – and has proven it time and time again.

Donald Trump’s tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks are the most recent proof. They helped create the best economy of my lifetime, with the lowest unemployment in fifty years and real wage growth across the board. We should be proud of those accomplishments and double down on them – not undothem

There’s one more supposedly “conservative” critique of capitalism. You hear it from the left too. Either way, it’s the silliest argument of all. 

There are those who say capitalism is bad for America but good for Communist China. They say if you’re for the free market, you’re for giving away the farm to Beijing. They say that economic freedom means shipping critical industries from Chicago to Shanghai, giving China everything it needs to hold America hostage.

That’s a red herring. 

Americans have always known that national security is our top priority. The pandemic proved that we can never be dependent on our biggest enemy for medicine. The same is true for advanced technology and security systems. That’s just commonsense. 

There’s also some irony here. Those who accuse capitalism of strengthening China are the same people who want to do business like China. 

Think about it. They’re calling for “national industrial policy,” which basically means the government should control what companies make, pick which businesses succeed, and dictate what the economy looks like. That’s a recipe for disaster. And it’s totally un-American. 

In fact, those who support national industrial policy are basically saying America should be more like Communist China! They think government controlling anddirecting innovation is better than unleashing the genius of our companies and citizens. They might as well start calling each other “comrade” and saying that five-year plans are better than economic freedom. 

You don’t have to think very hard to see how dumb that is. Imagine saying in 1980 that America should be morelike the Soviet Union. Thank God Ronald Reagan said the opposite. We can’t out-central-plan a bunch of communists, and if we play by China’s rules, China will win. The better bet is to play the game the American way – and that’s capitalism. 

Americans are the most innovative, creative, and visionary people in history. In a fight between Chinese communism and American capitalism, America will win every time. 

The biggest reason socialism is gaining ground is because capitalism’s defenders are too afraid to speak up. By staying silent, we’ve lost the moral high ground, and let a failed ideology corrupt the minds of the next generation. 

We can’t keep quiet. The truth matters. It’s time to tell it – and be proud about it.

To start, we need to define capitalism, instead of letting the other side spread falsehoods and lies. Capitalism is not pro-big-business. It’s pro-people – all people, without exception.

Economic freedom is all about empowerment, especially for the least fortunate and most vulnerable. We want a society where a single mom can support her kids, where a working family can get a better job and a bigger paycheck, where a college student can turn her big idea into a booming small business. We want a society where people don’t just dream it – they have the freedom to do it – and nobody has the power to stand in their way. 

We need to describe what capitalism has done. Namely, it has lifted more people out of poverty than anything else in human history.

Economic freedom has doubled Americans’ life expectancy, from 40 to 80. It has cut infant mortality from a third of kids to practically none. It took us from horses to cars to airplanes to spaceships, while turning the impossible into the inevitable. After watching America, other countries have followed our lead, including by ditching socialism. Now someone escapes extreme poverty every 1.2 seconds worldwide – and capitalism is to thank.

Finally, we must apply capitalism to the unique challenges of our time. 

Many assume that capitalism is nothing more than cutting taxes, red tape, and wasteful spending. It is that, but it’s so much more. 

Today, capitalism means standing up to corporate America as much as government. 

We’ve come to a place where a lot of CEOs think it’s fine to impose their values on the rest of us. They want to dictate what we think, how we live, and how we vote. That’s wrong when politicians do it, and it’s wrong when tech giants or anyone else does it. Corporate America should stick to business – and stop preaching.

Capitalism means transforming education from top to bottom.

It’s a national shame that so many students leave high school and college without the skills they need to succeed in life. We need to inject competition into education. That means more school choice, more pathways to college degrees, more college alternatives, and more workforce training for people of all ages. Education can’t be allowed to hold anyone back. Every child deserves a world-class education that helps them get ahead – regardless of where they are born and raised.

Capitalism means taking on special interests – and taking away their special favors.

We should all be upset that so many companies get handouts, bailouts, and carve-outs from the federal government. And we should be furious that socialism is doubling down on corporate welfare, while giving labor unions the power to control workers. Economic freedom and fairness go hand-in-hand, and companies, workers, and families deserve a level playing field – no exceptions.

Finally, capitalism means defending the principles at our country’s core. 

America is not rotten. America is not racist. Freedom and the rule of law are not tools of oppression. They are the essential to delivering opportunity for all. Of course America isn’t perfect. But the principles at the heart of America are perfect. 

Margaret Thatcher was right. There’s no need for a U-Turn away from capitalism. It is the road that brought our people and country further than any other in human history. 

I know people are worried right now. It’s easy to be. They see an unknown future, and it can look pretty dark. They see a fast-changing world, and they wonder if they can keep up. Of course they can. 

As it so often does, the great state of South Carolina proves it.

For 150 years,  South Carolina was the beating heart of the American textile industry. 

It manufactured clothes for our state, our country, and for much of the world. And it provided jobs to thousands of our citizens from one generation to the next. 

But it didn’t last. Innovation made it cheaper and easier for machines to make clothes. Trade agreements made it more affordable to buy foreign-made clothes. 

So one by one, our textile mills closed. 

It was devastating. Jobs disappeared. Communities fell apart. It was tough to watch. People were suffering and looking for answers.

We could have complained and propped up the textile industry with government subsidies. We could have told people that welfare and handouts were their only hope. 

But South Carolina didn’t do that. We did the hard work. We adopted policies that made our state stronger. We encouraged local and foreign businesses to set up shop. We cut taxes and regulations, diversified our economy, retained our right-to-work laws, trained our workforce, and opened the door to opportunity and optimism. 

It worked. Today, the same towns that once had textile mills now build planes, cars, tires, and medical devices. When I was governor, we were referred to by trade magazines as the “Beast of the Southeast,” which I loved. It took time to get there, and the transition hurt, but we are much stronger today than ever before.

Capitalism saved South Carolina. It can save America, too.

Now is not the time to lower our sights and lessen our belief in the American people. Now is the time to set our sights high, and empower the people to carry us there. 

I know of a family that came here because they saw a country where they could achieve anything. Their homeland had tried socialism for decades, with nothing to show for it except sadness and poverty. 

That family moved to a small southern town. They didn’t look like their neighbors. Nobody knew who they were, what they were, or why they were there. The mom built a small business. The dad taught at a historically black college. They did their part to improve their community. They gave their children a chance to make the most of their lives. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

That family… is my family. 

My parents left India because of America’s promise. I am here, today, because that promise is worth defending. 

Our fellow citizens, and future generations, deserve better than a country that gives up on them and holds them down. They deserve to live in a land that believes in them – a land of realized dreams – the best hope on earth.

If we restore that kind of America, there’s no telling how far we’ll go. There’s no telling how much good we’ll do for all who call our country home. But we owe it to them, and ourselves, to find out.

Thank you. God Bless you, and God bless America.