All of the problems that we face can be turned around, but it should anger us that we are even having a conversation about America’s decline. Given our history and dynamic nature, we can turn this around,” former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said to an enthusiastic crowd at the 2011 Oklahoma Citizenship Award Dinner. The annual event, now in its fifteenth year, was held on March 30, 2011 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
News9 anchor Ed Murray served as master of ceremonies. He introduced OCPA chairman Dr. David R. Brown, who greeted attendees. Wes Lane, president of the Burbridge Foundation, delivered the invocation. Christi Gulley sang a beautiful rendition of “God Bless America.” Then OCPA president Michael Carnuccio introduced the many special guests in the audience, including elected officials and the leaders of many other state-based think tanks which are part of the State Policy Network.
Lou Ann Rice provided the dinner music on piano. After dinner, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi and OCPA chairman Dr. David R. Brown made a special presentation to the five Citizenship Essay Contest winners. Then Governor Mary Fallin introduced Governor Jeb Bush and presented him with OCPA’s 2011 Citizenship Award. He was elected the 43rd Governor of Florida in 1998 and was reelected by a wide margin in 2002. His second term ended in 2007.
In his keynote address, Governor Bush said, “I’d like to talk about some things that can be done that aren’t ideological, and certainly not partisan … they are things that can be done to begin this process of turnaround. Yes, we need to have a vigorous debate about the size and scope of government, about the debt and deficit. I know for a fact that it is important to fight those fights based on principle, and we must win. … And I am excited that we have principle-centered leaders like Paul Ryan [OCPA’s 2010 Citizenship Award recipient] and others in Washington that are going to show the way for that to happen. But there are other elements of the things that we can do that would make a difference.”
He said that an energy security policy is needed based on U.S. innovation and U.S. resources. “American innovation shouldn’t be discounted. Through American innovation, we now have the possibility of a hundred years of natural gas resources, and we have the potential of expanding dramatically the amount of oil that we can also extract because of technology—American ingenuity and American innovation.”
Governor Bush said innovation was also a key component of education reform. “One of those choices that exists, that didn’t exist when I started as governor, is digital learning. … I think that the digital revolution is just starting, and the states that embrace it will be the ones that probably have the fastest learning gains, the chance to be the builders of the content for the twenty-first-century learning experience [and] create economic development along the way.” He also noted the importance of accountability in the classrooms, and school choice, which he referred to as “a catalytic converter for change.”
Governor Bush received the 2011 Citizenship Award because of his notable efforts in challenging the conventional wisdom of education policy while in office, and for his continued work in spotlighting education reforms as a private citizen.
He complimented OCPA for its principled limited government stands. “We need to challenge every aspect of how we create rules in society today. Every time there is a problem in America, at the local, state, and federal level, the instinct in our country is to say ‘let’s pass a regulation; let’s make a mandate; let’s create another rule.’” Governor Bush says that such thinking has to be challenged. “So what needs to be done? I think what needs to be done is what has been proposed by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, which is to have a wholesale review of new rules and a sunsetting of all existing rules in the federal government and at the state and local level as well.”
He also gave accolades to OCPA’s chairman. “Dr. Brown founded this fantastic organization, but he also led the most important conservative-thinking group in Washington, D.C., the Heritage Foundation. And the good Lord knows that we need more thinking, right-minded people in Washington. So David, thank you for your leadership and service to your country.”
- Get Involved
- What Would Reagan Do?