Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Author: George Bush  | Date: July 18, 1992

Remarks at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah
July 18, 1992

Thank you very much. Thank you all for that warm welcome. And may I just single out your President. Mr. President—it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it, for Rex—but to say to Rex Lee that I am delighted to have been introduced by him, a man who has served, first, his Government with such great distinction, integrity, and honor and now serves this wonderful university in a position of extraordinary leadership.

Allow me for a moment just to acknowledge Senator Hatch; Governor Norman Bangerter, my friend over here; Val Oveson, the Lieutenant Governor; Mayor Joseph Jenkins. And may I just suggest that it is appropriate that I pay and you all pay a special tribute to Senator Jake Garn, who’s retiring this fall after years of dedicated service to Utah and to the entire Nation. And again, to President Lee and Provost Hafen and Ron Hyde and Dee Andersen, B.Y.U. Vice President, let me just say thank you for inviting me here today. More than that, I want to thank you for extending an invitation to all the Presidential candidates to come to B.Y.U. and share their views. And this is appropriate, the university not pulling back but permitting people to have a fair say in this important election year. I salute you for that.

I noticed that on your seal it says that the glory of God is intelligence. I would add that intelligence and education are absolutely necessary to fulfill your democratic obligation. So I salute you for your desire to learn more about all our candidates and where we want to lead this great Nation.

In this spirit of free speech let me register one strongly held view. I want to change things. And one thing I want to change is the control of the House of Representatives in Washington. You talk about change, for 35 years, 36, one party has controlled that one institution, the House of Representatives. Enough of these bank scandals and post office scandals. We’ve got to change control, and that’s why I want Richard Harrington in the United States Congress.

Let me say I agree with him on this, and with the Senators, that a strong America has led the world to change. We have not surrendered one single ounce of our sovereignty. We are the leader of the free world, undisputed, on our terms. We’re the United States of America.

You know, B.Y.U. is a special place of physical beauty and spiritual strength, a place devoted to a simple creed: Enter to learn; go forth to serve. I happen to believe that there is no higher calling than serving humanity. So I say thank you for choosing B.Y.U. This home of the Cougars feels like my home. And thanks for that warm welcome.

I spent 2 days this past week far away from TV and radio, didn’t listen—watch one or listen to the other—up in Wyoming, trout fishing with Secretary of State Jim Baker and our sons, Jamie and Jeb. But I’m aware that something else was going on in America this week, something real important. This is the week when all across America, crowds of panting, sweating people overran their neighborhood video stores. [Laughter] From Tallahassee to Tempe, Americans turned on their TV and decided they’d rather watch "Action Jackson" than listen to—well, never mind. Now, look, don’t get the idea that this is some kind ofpartisan attack. Stop by Rich’s Video down on Freedom Boulevard, and I’m sure Rich will tell you, give it to you straight. Sales aren’t all that bad during the Republican Convention either. [Laughter] So I want to be fair about this.

I didn’t get a chance, as I said, to see the other party on TV. But I couldn’t help but notice one little comment made by one of the conventioneers. It was made by a man named McGovern. First name, same as mine, George. You remember him. Over the years Mr. McGovern hasn’t always been my biggest fan. So I was kind of surprised by what he said in the newspaper. He called this year’s Democratic ticket a Trojan horse. And he said, and I quote, "They’re much more liberal underneath and will prove it when they’re elected." Now, I know I’ve never said this publicly, but, one, they won’t be elected, and George McGovern is an incredibly insightful man. [Laughter]

You may not believe this, but that’s all I’m going to say about the other party. You didn’t invite me here to talk about the other side. You want to know what I have to offer and what I believe and what’s in my heart. Let me just start by explaining a little bit about where I see America today.

Here at B.Y.U. you like to say that the world is your campus, your president telling me about the numbers of foreign languages that are taught and spoken by the students on this campus. Well, that campus, internationally, has been through incredible change in 4 years. Because of our leadership, because of America’s sacrifice and commitment, millions more people breathe free today. When you go to bed tonight, you can sleep knowing that we are safer from nuclear destruction: safer than we were a decade ago, safer than we were a year ago, safer than we were even a month ago, before I met with Boris Yeltsin in the White House to get rid of some of these nuclear weapons.

But this new world that we live in poses new challenges and new opportunities. The challenge is this: Can we compete now that so many other nations are playing our game? It’s a tough question. But since the answer is, inevitably, yes, consider the opportunity we face: more of the world’s people hungry for our products, more of the world’s people eager for our services, more good jobs for you and all your classmates.

What do we need to take advantage of this opportunity? The same values, the same principles, the same ideas that we used to change the world. To start, I believe we need to get to work today to create more opportunity for more people. You can’t build a home without a hammer, and you can’t build a dream without a job. Work isn’t just good for our wallets. Work elevates us. It teaches us values. It gives us purpose.

Some people tear down our economy. They say we’re second-rate, second-class. But keep in mind just a few facts. We are still the world’s largest and most vibrant economy. We’ve tamed the lion of inflation. And consider this: The last time interest rates stayed this low the "Brady Bunch" wasn’t even on TV yet.

Our factories produce a higher percentage of the world’s manufactured goods than we did 20 years ago. We’ve emerged as the world’s export champion. Last year the Japanese Government asked who leads the world in 143 critical technology industries. Japanese firms led in 33 and the United States in 43. And I wouldn’t be surprised to learn if that report was put together on software made right here in Utah.

But while our economy is growing today, it’s not growing fast enough. Many of you are working your way through this great university. When you graduate, you don’t want to get letters that say, "We’ll keep your resume on file." You want letters that say, "How fast can you get here and take the job?"

I used to run a business and meet a payroll. I learned the only way Government can create jobs is to help the people who create jobs. That means providing incentives so that businesses can create jobs. It means getting our own house in order by making like Paul Bunyan and taking an ax to the rotting tree that is the Federal budget deficit. Governor Norm Bangerter, just back from a trip to St. Petersburg, to Russia, came to have breakfast this morning. And this is his philosophy; it’s the philosophythat Governor Bangerter follows and Utah follows. And we’ve got to bring some of that Utah attitude to Washington, DC. Like your Governor, we need a lineitem veto. And we’re going to get it. We’re going to get the American people to insist we have it. Like you, we need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. And we’re going to get that, too.

Thirty-one times in the past 3 years I’ve had to wield my veto pen, many times to cut away wasteful Government spending. With the help of Senator Orrin Hatch and then a new Congress coming in with him, we’re going to continue to stand on principle and protect your pocketbooks. We’re going to treat wasteful spending the way Carl Malone will treat another team’s jump shot in Barcelona. We’re going to swat it into the front row. [Laughter]

I also believe that we need to restore the special values that have carried this Nation for 200 years. Americans need to understand something that you all know very, very well and that your lives epitomize: "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." David O. McKay’s words harken back to a different age. Today we can fly from Paris to New York and arrive earlier than we left, but do we too often leave behind the difference between right and wrong? We can explore a world beyond the stars, but do we too often ignore a neighbor down the street? We can turn natural ingredients into miracle medicines, but why do we feel the need to turn every argument into a lawsuit?

By the way, I am not going to give up; I’m going to continue to fight for legislation that puts a stop to all these frivolous lawsuits. We need to give doctors the chance to practice medicine, dads and morns to coach the Little League without worrying that they’re going to end up in a courtroom every single week.

So where do we get our traditional values? Where do we get our traditional values? We learn them in our living rooms and in our churches. While religion and families help keep our lives together, Government can help keep our families together. Government can reward work, not welfare dependency. Welfare programs can and must encourage families not to fall apart, but to stay together. Government can and must, in my view, give families in Utah and every other State the option of deciding where their kids are educated. Whether it’s a public school, a private school, or a church school, it doesn’t matter. Let the parents choose. That is the American way.

I also believe we need to restore respect for the law. Peace in the world, it’s fine, but it’s not enough. If people don’t feel safe in their own backyard, it doesn’t seem to matter. What do you say to an elderly woman who watches the Berlin Wall fall on television right before her eyes but is afraid to walk into her neighborhood grocery store? What do you say to kids in our cities who hear of the Russians reducing nuclear weapons but then have to walk through a metal detector at school every single morning? What do you say to these Americans? You say, "Enough is enough." Let’s put an end to the lawlessness. Let’s get rid of the drugs. And let’s say sayonara to the crack dealers and the criminals. We can help with legislation. You can help in your neighborhoods and in your local institutions. But let’s pledge to make America safe again.

As you know, this has been an important week in American politics for a couple of reasons. I met a guy in Wyoming yesterday who noted that the week I went fishing, one of my opponents dropped out of the race. And he wondered if I wanted to stay out West and bag another trophy hunting next week. [Laughter]

But let me just make a serious observation. It’s easy for me to stand here as an incumbent President of the United States and quietly applaud Ross Perot’s withdrawal from the campaign, to salute the fact that this strange political year is suddenly much more, quote, normal, unquote. But I can’t do that. The fervor of the Perot supporters, of those sensational volunteers, transcends politics as usual.

There was an election in America this summer: no ballots cast, no polls open, but a referendum took place nonetheless. Nobody won, but politics lost. And politics lost because it is becoming irrelevant to more and more Americans. And for too many people, politics is now the opposite of progress. So my message to anyone dissatisfied withAmerica is this: Don’t quit. Don’t walk away from the system. Don’t believe that because there’s no protest voice you have no vote at all.

Ross Perot’s supporters believe in the same principles in which I believe about cutting the size of Government, about letting parents choose their kids’ day care and high schools. And most of all, we agree about the need to break the deadlock in Washington, DC.

It is time to say "So long" to politics as usual. More than that, it’s high time to shake up the system. If you’ll excuse just one more political observation, you give me a Congress that shares my values and your values, and you’d see this system not just shaken but rattled and even rolled. And you will see real progress in our great country.

I know that Provo is one of America’s youngest cities. For years, more babies were born at Utah Valley Hospital than any other hospital in America, more than most hospitals in the world. I heard from some not-so-reliable sources that lately some hospitals way up in northern Europe are surpassing your birth rates. But I guess that in Utah babies are born because of hope. Well, way up in northern Europe they are born because of hope and weather. [Laughter] Now, as I look out on this audience today, my guess is you’re probably asking the question that every young generation asks: Will the future be bright? Will the dream stay alive? And despite all our challenges, I am betting on America. And I know you are, too. I still believe in America’s capacity to confront any challenge and seize any opportunity. If we can topple the Berlin Wall and if we can reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and if we can do those things, we can build a strong economy. And if we can lift that Iron Curtain, we can bring the curtain down on immorality and indifference. And if we can help people walk free in Eastern Europe, we can take back the streets in the United States of America.

So this then is our mission, and this is our crusade. And together I am absolutely confident that we can get the job done for the United States of America.

God bless you. And may God bless our great country. Thank you very, very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:20 a.m. at the Marriott Center. In his remarks, he referred to Ron Hyde, advancement vice president, and Dee Andersen, administrative vice president, Brigham Young University; and the late David O. McKay, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the 1950’s.


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Chicago: George Bush, "Remarks at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah," Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275 1136–1138. Original Sources, accessed February 23, 2024,

MLA: Bush, George. "Remarks at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah." Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275, pp. 1136–1138. Original Sources. 23 Feb. 2024.

Harvard: Bush, G, 'Remarks at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah' in Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275, pp.1136–1138. Original Sources, retrieved 23 February 2024, from