Here's the full text of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's inauguration speech, as written.
Thank you, Senator Ogden. My Friends, Governor Perry, Speaker Straus, Chief Justice Jefferson, Members of the Legislature, my fellow Texans. I’m deeply honored to once again take the oath of office as your Lieutenant Governor, to serve the greatest people on this planet – the people of Texas. You have my profound gratitude.
It's very special for me to take this oath with Tricia by my side and with our little daughter Carolyn. For me, there is no greater blessings in life than a wonderful wife and family. I learned that from a very special woman who loved her children unconditionally, who overcame great adversity, who put her children’s future ahead of her own – my mom. A member of the "Greatest Generation," she was prepared to sacrifice so her boys might grow up and be half the man their dad was.
When I first told Mom that I had decided to run for public office, I'll never forget what she told me. She said, "David, have you completely lost your mind?" And then she thought about it, and with moist eyes she said, "David, you have my blessing as long as you promise me every day you are in politics, you’ll push the envelope – you’ll help people who have no one else to help them. And the day you don’t, you’ll get out of office."
I stand before you today the Lieutenant Governor of Texas on the shoulders of that very special woman and also with a very special wife. As long as I have the opportunity to serve the people of Texas, I will keep my solemn vow to help those who cannot help themselves, to ensure that the promise of opportunity is available to all without favoring the few. To the good people of Texas, I'm honored by the responsibility you have given me, and I promise to use the power you have loaned me humbly to help all people.
There’s a lot that is special about being a Texan; we are independent, optimistic, and occasionally stubborn. Those men and women who made their way to Texas, who settled these unforgiving plains, who sought neither a handout nor a stimulus check – they simply sought freedom. What makes Texas great is not cattle, cotton, or crude oil; it's people.
We have big challenges facing us in this 2011 Legislative Session. But we will be successful because our challenges are not bigger than the sheer will and determination of the people of Texas. I know this for a fact because eight years ago when I was sworn in for the first time, we faced some of the same problems. But we didn’t shrink from these challenges. We looked at the mountain in front of us and began to climb. And working together, we passed major lawsuit reform, school finance, and we balanced four state budgets without raising taxes, while protecting essential services for our most vulnerable.
Job one is to balance the budget without raising taxes. In the worst economy in 70 years with unemployment at its highest in decades, now is not the time to ask families to make do with less so government can spend more. As President Ronald Reagan once said, "There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers." Simply put, government must live within its means. This last election, Texans spoke clearly about excessive government spending when they said, "No," to the Washington Way, where they spend $5 for every $3 they take in. In contrast to Washington, we offer limited government to create unlimited opportunity. We know people agree because they are voting with their feet and moving to Texas in larger numbers than any other state. Last year, more than 200,000 people moved to Texas from the other 49 states, and it’s not because of our weather. It’s because we are a fortress of economic freedom – a lone bastion of opportunity in the midst of a global economic crisis.
Let me tell you what I hear from Texans. Over the past 18 months, as I crisscrossed the state, I heard neither a clamoring for more taxes nor a call for more government. What I heard was anger over reckless spending in Washington. I listened to ranchers, lawyers, doctors, factory workers, small business owners – some of the same men and women who formed a grassroots rebellion against reckless spending: the patriots of the Tea Party! From Boston Harbor in 1773 to Austin, Texas, in 2011, the cry of everyday citizens is to be freed from a distant government which doesn’t listen to us but tries to control our lives at the expense of our liberty.
Washington should listen to the people and look to the states – the laboratories of innovation and governing. The Tea Party, Independents, Republicans, and Conservative Democrats should all be proud of Texas as a shining example of limited government, low taxes, and economic growth. I’m proud of the role I played with Governor Perry, the Speaker, and the Legislature cutting the size of government in 2003 and in 2010 and again this year. Working together, we’ve held the line on spending for the last eight years.
In Texas, we will never concede our freedom to Washington because we believe government exists to empower people, not rule over them. Like many of you, I’ve studied the Constitution, and I have a profound respect for its enduring wisdom. But as amazing as our Constitution is for what it does, it’s just as amazing for what it doesn’t do. It does not make Washington all-powerful. Our Founding Fathers had the chance to centralize power in a government that they themselves would run; yet, they chose to give it away. They gave power to the people enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the 10th Amendment – in peace, on purpose. Theirs was an act of courage rare in the annals of history.
Our Founding Fathers knew that absolute power in the hands of a few meant lost liberty for the many. The same is true today. The only thing as outrageous as the amount of money Washington is borrowing from foreign creditors is the amount of money they withhold from states unless we comply with their edicts. Washington has run roughshod over state sovereignty.
The examples are more and more outrageous: the offshore drilling ban, misguided Congressmen blocking almost $1 billion of funding for our Texas school children, the EPA taking over 167 clean air permits, cap-and-trade which will increase your taxes, and Obamacare – the largest expansion of government in a generation!
What the Obama Administration has failed to achieve through legislation, they are instead trying to pass through regulation. And unfortunately, Texas has been forced to use our last option: litigation.
And while Washington intrudes upon the rights of states, they have yet to meet their most basic constitutional obligation: to secure our borders. Today, our borders are under siege by gangs and cartels that traffic in drugs, weapons, and human beings. Border Security is a federal job, but the states pay the price. That's why Texas has spent more than a quarter billion dollars over the last four years – putting state troopers, helicopters, and local law enforcement on the border. And you know what we've found? Manpower is the key to securing the border. Every time we do surge operations, massing personnel on our southern border, nothing moves! Criminal activity virtually shuts down in the area. Therefore, today I’m asking the federal government to triple the number of border patrol agents on our borders! If that doesn’t secure our borders, then I will keep demanding additional boots on the ground until we have sufficient manpower to seal it, control it, and enforce it. When it comes to our sovereignty and security, there is no compromise.
My priorities this Session are clear. In addition to securing our borders, we will pass legislation to encourage more job creation; to protect the integrity of our elections, we will again pass voter ID; we will continue to improve our public schools because a quality education gives every child a chance to realize their dreams; we will continue building a world-class transportation system because quality roads without congestion are the economic arteries of future prosperity; we will make healthcare more accessible and more affordable with better medical outcomes at a lower cost by passing reforms that will lead the nation because Texans deserve better health care, not more bureaucracy; and we will achieve all these goals while balancing our budget without raising taxes because I want a budget that grows the Texas economy, not the Texas government.
Can we do all these things? You bet! Eight years ago, at our inaugural prayer service, my friend Dr. Ed Young joked that Texans are accused of having an accent that causes us to mispronounce some words. We pronounce the word "C-R-I-S-I-S" as "opportunity." Our economic ascent is the result of bedrock conservative principles: limited government, low taxes, creating a level playing field and a predictable, dependable business climate.
For years, the Texas landscape has bloomed with opportunity. One of the many things I love about Texas, and which I've experienced, is that the Texas of today is a place where any day anyone from any background can climb heights as improbable as they are breathtaking. We are Texans, and we can do anything we set our minds to! But our optimism of the Texas that is and the Texas that can be cannot, and should not, cause us to lose sight of the jobless, the helpless, the hopeless.
I want everyone to have the opportunity to be all they can be. To me, the best investments are those that give Texans the tools of self-sufficiency: a world-class education, quality, affordable healthcare, a stable, dependable business climate so that entrepreneurs can build successful companies and workers can make better wages. These are the kinds of investments we must make in good times or bad. But government cannot solve every problem or address every ill. Centralized government that attempts too much achieves too little.
So for those of us who have been blessed, we have a special calling to serve and sacrifice to help people. Service and sacrifice are what define our "Greatest Generation" – the men and women who fought the forces of tyranny in the trenches of Europe, on the islands of the Pacific, on the high seas and at high altitudes. During World War II, 750,000 Texans – including 12,000 women – served our country. My father was one: an ordinary Texan who went to war, did his job, and became a highly decorated B-26 bomber pilot, flying 85 missions over Nazi Europe. Every time he roared down the runway, he knew it might be his last. But he did it anyway, just like your fathers and your grandfathers.
I’ve been to the shores of Normandy where thousands and thousands of brave Americans are buried – Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice. An indescribable peace permeates such hallowed ground; where heroes rest, the silence speaks.
It was not just my father and the millions of servicemen who sacrificed; it was all of American society. It was the factory workers; it was the women who not only raised families without their husbands, but worked in plants to support the war; it was citizens who bought war bonds and prayed every night for the safe return of their loved ones. Each had a role to play, and virtually all rose to the challenge. We see that same spirit of sacrifice alive and well today in our fighting men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are freedom’s greatest ambassadors: warriors willing to sacrifice all, including their own safety, for a greater good. We must never become oblivious to their sacrifice or fail to remember the generations that came before them. We, too, as individual citizens and civilians must be willing to sacrifice for the good of our state and our country.
Many in America have been trained to believe we can have all we want when we want it. But at the core of being a Texan and an American is not what we get from society, but what we give back. For most of us Texans, the question is not what government can do for us, but what we can do if government doesn’t stand in our way. Government cannot replace the role of parents in families, cannot legislate personal responsibility, cannot replace the private sector in creating jobs, and cannot govern an individual’s life better than his own conscience.
Texas still offers the promise of a better tomorrow, where a little boy or girl can grow up with nothing, work hard, and have the storybook ending they would never dare to imagine as a child. I know because that's my story. And it's the story of millions of Texans who have lived the American Dream in this state so abundant with opportunity – those who sacrifice, those who persevere, those who dust off their boots and get back up every time they get knocked down. They are the ones who know the meaning of the American Dream, the Texas Dream.
The promise of Texas is a light on the distant horizon piercing the darkness. It's a promise available to any and all who are willing to work hard, sacrifice, and never give up. This has never been more true than today with thousands of new pilgrims settling here each day in this modern Promised Land we call Texas. We who have inherited that promise must preserve and protect it. We must never allow its light to lose its luster. We must be united in our quest for a better Texas – a Texas rich in values, abundant in opportunity, wealthy in spirit. One people, one star, one destiny.
May God bless each and every one of you, and may He continue to bless the great State of Texas. Thank you.