The Return of Cincinnatus

Life is but for Faith, Family, and Freedom

In Memory of Jack Kemp

I have always held Mr. Kemp in high honor. Below, I am attaching a piece by someone who knew him better than I:

Jack French Kemp, Jr  (1935-2009)

My first involvement with politics was on the steering committee for Mr. Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign.  This country would have been so much better off had he won that contest.

I admired Jack greatly and feel so sad at his passing.  He was a true patriot; he left a safe congressional seat to run for president because he believed in his ideas and felt they could make his country, which he loved, much better.  Personally, he was engaging, a great football fan but most importantly, a wonderful father, husband and friend to many. 

As for his politics, Jack had a positive vision.  He didn’t view government as a way to pick winners or losers; he decried the politics of envy.  He truly believed in an economy that lifted all boats, particularly for those who were born without much of a boat but who desired a share of the American Dream.  He strongly believed that the American economy is not a zero sum game – just because someone got rich doesn’t mean they took it from someone else.  He constantly preached that our economy is based upon the idea that investment is essential to lifting the poor out of poverty.

“What is most important is to give a hand up, not a handout”  This was one of his favorite expressions.  Also, “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat for his whole life” – these also were some of his favorite expressions and he used them often in his speeches.

Several campaign pros have told me that Jack’s problem was that instead of raising money by making calls begging donors for cash, he would rather jet off and give a speech to an African American group or LaRaza. 

That, to me, was a badge of honor for Jack.  He absolutely believed in his ideas and felt that they could move people to his side; that’s why so many black and hispanic leaders will talk about him so positively.  It’s also a reason I respected him so much.

He absolutely believed that if the Republican Party was going to be successful, it would have to reach out to all people; it couldn’t just preach to the choir – it had to try to convince people that its ideas had currency and effectiveness. 

This is even more important today, where his beloved party is out of favor at the moment.  It is going through a soul searching, trying to decide whether to move toward the middle and become Democrat lite, favoring government influence or whether it will go back to its founding ideas in the worth of the individual and the power of individual entrepeneurship and private investment and free markets.

Jack’s push for tax cuts were all about the latter – he embraced and expanded upon supply side economics, which holds that incenting private investment by reducing tax rates would key economic growth and further investment which would create jobs, feed innovation and lift our standard of living.

How wonderful that Jack was able to see his ideas at least partially implemented by Ronald Reagan, which touched off an investment and technological boom that has transformed the world.  He was sad that the first President Bush derailed the Reagan revolution by agreeing to tax increases.  He was more sad that his Republican party during the late 90’s and second Bush administration went even further to the side of empowering and expanding government, although the Bush tax cuts were certainly a way station that keyed what economic growth we could muster after 9/11.

Jack was also misunderstood on immigration.  Many of my fellow conservatives were dismayed that he took the side of more immigration but that was a key element to his ideas.  He wasn’t afraid of competition; he believed, as in football, that competition made all perform better.  The US needs to welcome those from around the world who believe in free markets and competition.  He often spoke of the Russian cabdriver or Asian dry cleaners who worked hard and competed for their share of the American Dream – these were essential to the continued growth of America; not something to be feared.

Rest in Peace, Jack.  You deserved better than the country gave but you lived a wonderful life and I am proud to have known you and been inspired by you.  Condolences to your lovely and loving family.  We will all miss you.

 John Cox


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