Rand Paul: ‘Can a civilization long endure that doesn’t respect life?’

In a wide-ranging speech Wednesday night, probable 2016 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul highlighted the importance of marriage, life, and family to America's future.
Thu Feb 6, 2014 - 1:50 pm EST

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2014 ( – In a wide-ranging speech Wednesday night, probable 2016 GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, highlighted the importance of marriage, life, and the family to America's future.

In front of nearly 300 attendees at the American Principles Project's 2014 Gala, Paul delivered what may have been his biggest applause line when he quoted his speech at the 2013 March for Life, where he asked, “Can a civilization long endure that doesn't respect life?”

Paul spent several minutes of his nearly twenty-two minute speech discussing how social and cultural issues work best in fusion with liberty.

“There's a role for family, there's a role for marriage, there's a role for the protection of life,” said Paul. “But while there is a role for government, there's also a role for those of you not in government. In fact, a role as big or bigger.”

“You want to promote family, you need to talk about it, in your communities, with your kids. You want to promote marriage, you need to talk about it, with your kids and in your communities. I can't make kids get married, but the thing is I think marriage is important, not only for social, and religious, and moral reasons, but it's incredibly important for economic reasons,” Paul said.

According to Paul, education and marriage are creating “two worlds” in America. “There's a world that goes to college and is married, and there is a world that doesn't go to college and isn't married, and there's enormous amounts of poverty in the world that doesn't make it to college and doesn't get married and have children.”

Religion also played into Paul's speech. He said that “as Christians, we believe in forgiveness, I think the criminal justice system should have one element of forgiveness,” related to easing laws he believes keep non-violent felons from being a fully effective part of society after having “served their time.” Paul specifically noted he's “not talking about legalization” of marijuana, but “making the criminal justice system fair, and giving people a second chance.”

Paul, a pro-life, pro-traditional family Republican whose father inspired a generation of libertarians, addressed how liberty does not mean “libertine.”

“Freedom needs tradition,” he said, citing former top official for President Ronald Reagan, Donald Devine, who authored America's Way Back. “Freedom needs tradition to give it its balance, its state stability, and its sense of family, and all of community, those kinds of things. But tradition needs freedom to invigorate it, to give it excitement.”

Paul also proposed reforming tax policy to rejuvenate struggling cities, and focusing on minority outreach by realizing that three-quarters of those in jail are “black or brown.”

The thrust of Paul's speech dealt with the Republican Party's need to retake the mantle of conservatism. He described how the GOP is “the party that wants to help the long-term unemployed. We are the party that wants to help those who live in poverty. It needs to be a debate about ... which policies worked. There are 20 million people that are either underemployed or out of work right now.”

“You look at the recovery, most of the recovery has been with the wealthy. The poor are stagnant, and their incomes are being stolen from them by inflation,” Paul said.

Noting Ronald Reagan's fight against the leaders of his own party, Paul said, “Fighting doesn’t have to be impolite. It doesn’t have to be rude, but there needs to be a struggle over the direction of the party. We have to decide: Are we gonna go bold, are we gonna go big, or are we gonna go Democrat-lite?”