FEBRUARY 2023 POLICY COUNSEL SPEECHES
The Honorable Francis Suarez
City of Miami
Welcome all of you to Miami. I want to first begin by acknowledging the President of the Council for National Policy Tom Fitton, and also Congressman Bob McEwen, who was a long time in Miami—went to the University of Miami—for organizing such an important conference. You are now sitting in the most important city in America.
Across the Nation, cities are facing tremendous challenges. A toxic mix of high taxes and high crime. But in Miami, we have designed a formula for success based on core conservative principles that have enabled us to become the capital of capital, and the most important city in America according to the Financial Times.
The formula is simple and it’s conservative. Increased funding not decreased funding for our police officers. Embrace innovation. Create high-paying jobs. And, of course, keep taxes low. In Miami, we support law enforcers, not law breakers, and we invest in having a safe city. Miami recorded one of its lowest levels of homicides this past year in 2022 with 47. To put that number in context, in 1980 we had 220. That’s an 84% decrease, and the lowest per capita homicide rate since 1964.
By the way, I can guarantee you that Miami looked a lot different in 1964 than it does today. I was a negative 13. I wasn’t even an idea actually in 1964.
In Miami, we slashed poverty in half over the past twenty years. We grew our ecosystem from our education to our land use and growing our city. We worked to attract new businesses and industries. We want all of our residents to keep what they earn, invest what they save, and own what they build. What a shocking concept. By the way, we’re fundamentally so American, because we are traumatized by our origin story. Many of us, including my parents who came to this country at twelve and seven, were kicked out of their country of birth because a leader told them “give us all your businesses, give us all your properties, and don’t worry, we’ll make everybody equal.” And they did, in fairness. They made everyone equally poor and equally miserable. And so, under my tenure, we’ve lowered taxes to the lowest level in Miami’s history, because we know a fundamental truth that people, and not government, deliver real growth and progress.
We ranked number one in tech job growth; number one in tech job migration; number one in pandemic recovery—you’re getting the hint here, right?—number one in direct foreign investment. We’ve attracted companies with over 2.5 trillion, with a “T,” of assets under managed companies coming here to Miami in just the last twenty-four months. That’s 81 new to market companies creating a billion dollars in wages for our economy. We have a 1.5% unemployment rate. Yes, let me repeat that. We have a 1.5% unemployment rate. And because we’ve lowered taxes to our lowest level, we grew by 12%. The second most in our history.
You see, we believe that true innovation and progress only comes from having a free market economy. One that allows creatives and innovators to explore their ideas and solve society’s biggest challenges. In Miami, we understand where our world is heading. We are transitioning from an economy based completely on industrial production to one that is increasingly driven by technology and innovation. That is why when builders seek to build in Miami, we say “how can I help?” Our role as policy makers should be to empower individuals so that they’re able to identify our biggest weaknesses and provide a feasible solution for them. While it may seem paradoxical for some, this approach towards our economy which includes lowering taxes to their lowest level, has enabled us to enjoy the largest budget surplus in our history. Yes, we balance our budget in Miami. We do it while lowering taxes and, in fact, we have the largest surplus we’ve ever had and the highest bond rating we’ve ever had as a government.
We’re setting the tone as the leading American city for disruption. Our world will be driven by applied artificial intelligence, biotechnology, Web-3, Quantum computing, urban air mobility, and machine learning. As Americans, we must embrace this innovation. We must be pioneers. And I knew this for the very first time when I saw my two year-old daughter taking a selfie with her pacifier. I knew technology was here to stay at that point.
We call this the Miami miracle, and this can be the American miracle. From small towns to big states. When you really think about it, America is one big city. A shining city on a hill. Eighty-five percent of the population of this country is in American cities and 91 percent of the GDP produced by this country is produced by people who live in American cities. So, we must build a strong foundation for our cities based on free-market, conservative principles so that everyone can thrive. Cities where miracles can still happen. And a city that is more than the future of America. Our city IS America, and the future is conservative. God bless you.
Dr. Jeff Myers
Good afternoon. You know, the theme this morning was about truth. The Greek word for truth is alethea. It means reality, and a lot of people today don’t even believe that reality exists. Now, in Colorado, some of us still do. Across the street from our Summit Ministries headquarters is Pike National Forest. It’s a million acres of great hiking ground. You can easily get lost there. If you’re hiking a long distance, you want to be sure to bring along well, of course, all your water and your food and supplies. But you want to bring along a topographical map – a map that shows the contours of the forest as it actually exists. And you want to bring a compass. With those two tools, you’ll always be able to find your way.
Well, I guess it depends on how you use the compass. If you use the compass to point you toward magnetic north, then you can orient the map and find your way. But what if you use the compass to point toward yourself? You can see how that would be a problem. See, I always know where I am because the red needle always points toward me. No, you don’t always know where you are. You never know where you are if that’s the way you’re doing it. But we now have a generation of young adults who believe precisely that about the nature of reality. Seventy-five percent of millennials said that, “What works for me and what is right for my life is the only truth I can know.” Now, think about that for a moment. That will affect everything in life. That will affect all your career choices, all of your relationship choices, it will affect all of your voting choices. And you know what we saw in the 2022 elections? That young adult voting behavior lined up exactly in correlation with their belief that there is no such thing as truth.
You say well, how did that happen? And if it did happen, what do we do about it? Well, how did it actually happen? It’s helpful when you’re trying to understand how to work with a young adult to understand why they see things the way they see them. If there’s no such thing as truth outside of you, you are your truth, then your own personal bodily autonomy is all you have. Do you think from their perspective, when a progressive says, “Don’t vote for a conservative because they will take away your personal bodily autonomy,” then what the young adult hears is: “If I vote for a conservative, I’m giving up the very last sense of self that I have.”
So, what do we do in a situation where young adults today don’t even believe there is such a thing as truth? I’d like to share in the time that I have what we’ve learned at Summit Ministries. Three points and you can write them down if you like, just remember this: VFW. Vision, Facts, and Words. Vision, Facts, and Words. We have discovered at Summit Ministries that if you focus on these three things, you can turn young adults around from believing there is no such thing as truth to believing and acting on the reality that truth actually exists. So, let me just share those with you briefly.
First of all is Vision. If you don’t believe there is such a thing as truth, it’s impossible to get a vision for your life. There’s nothing to see. There’s nothing out there for you. You are the center of reality. And the trauma this has caused for the rising generation is truly stunning. Seventy-five percent of young adults say they do not have a sense of purpose that gives them meaning in life. Fifty-three percent say they regularly struggle with anxiety and depression. You’ll find this startling, but once you understand what it means to say there is no truth, you’ll kind of see why people believe this. One-third of young people say they don’t know what gender they are. They’ve literally denied every aspect of reality.
So, what do we do? A lot of people say, “We medicate them. We pity them. We try to pretend that their fake reality is actually real.” That’s not how we do it. You don’t give a young person vision by pitying them, you give them a vision by helping them get a sense of purpose for their lives. So, what does that actually look like? Well, vision is hard to get if there’s no such thing as truth, then there’s no such thing as thought; if there’s no such thing as thought, then there’s no such thing as the ability to understand reality. If there’s no reality, then there’s no such thing as meaning. You have to actually go back and start with the basics.
So, we’ve talked some about science this morning. That there is a true way to do science and there’s a false way to do science. About a third of the students who come to study with us in one of our two-week long Summit Ministries programs, are going into the STEM fields. So, we’ll talk with them and say, “How many of the great scientists would you think are atheists, just based on what you’ve learned in school?” And they’ll say, “Well, all of them are atheists. I mean, you have to be an atheist to be a good scientist.” And we’ll say, “Did you know that of the 52 individuals whose discoveries and inventions formed the core of the development of modern science, only one of them was an atheist?” Fifty of them were believing Christians. In fact, two-thirds of those were so concerned about their Christian faith that they actually used it evangelistically. They taught Sunday school classes. They taught about apologetics. They wrote books about these kinds of things. These were the greatest scientists.” If you say, “That was an awful long time ago, that’s not true anymore.” Well, John Lennox, who was a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, said two-thirds of the people who have ever won the Nobel prize in science listed Christian as their affiliation. If you studied at a secular university, you might never have heard that.
I share this story in the book Truth Changes Everything, and I’ll share it with you because it’s really been valuable to our students. We tell them the story of a woman named Gladys West. She was a mathematician and a scientist back in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, when not very many women and not very many minority women were scientists. Gladys West developed the mathematical calculations that are behind the development of GPS. Now, think about that for a minute. None of us would even be here if it were not for Gladys West, and you’ve never even heard her name before. We would never have found our way. And she said, “I do not ever remember a time in my life when I did not believe that Jesus was the center of everything.” That’s a profound understanding. So, we’ll ask our students, “How many of you are majoring in something related to STEM?” And they’ll raise their hands. And we say, “We want you to understand that the science you do, you are doing as an act of worship to God.” That gives them a sense of vision.
Well, the second thing is Facts. It is shocking how many young adults today believe that there is no difference between facts and opinions. They’ll just say, “Well, that’s what you just said, that’s your opinion. That’s your truth. I have my truth.” So, at Summit Ministries, we bring in front of the students professors who love Jesus, who are smarter than their college professors, and more conversant about all of the key issues. Then we just start presenting them with the facts. Sometimes it starts with a really simple conversation. “You believe that everything is opinion. Well, do you believe there are scientific facts?” “Well, what do you mean?”
Okay, well, if I say that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level, it would not be an appropriate thing to say well, that’s your opinion. I mean, you might say it depends on atmospheric conditions but you wouldn’t say that’s your opinion. If there are scientific facts, are there historical facts? If I say Martin Luther King was shot on April 4, 1968, it wouldn’t be appropriate for someone to say, well, maybe that’s true in your culture. No, it’s a historical fact. Are there moral facts? This is where it gets interesting. Students will say, “Okay, I see scientific facts, I see historical facts, no such thing as moral facts. Morality is up to each person.” And I’ll say, “Let me give you two statements and see if you can understand the difference. Statement A: It is good to care for abandoned puppies. Statement B: It is good to torture abandoned puppies. Can you see any difference between those two statements?” And, of course, they say, “Yes.” Then we say, “You know what? There are moral facts, aren’t there? There are things that we can know to be true about how we should live our lives.”
Let me tell you a cool story about Leanna. She came to Summit Ministries, and she designated herself—students like to designate themselves, put themselves in boxes, you know, I’m this gender, or that gender, or whatever. She said, “I’m coming here as a Christian socialist.” She had read The Communist Manifesto. She desperately wanted Karl Marx to be right. In about one hour, we did two things. First of all, we explored the horrors of communism factually. Second of all, we talked about the basis of the Marxist worldview which is materialism and says that only the material world exists. But it’s simply not true. We have information, we have ideas, we have inspiration. She told me later I felt like I was being ripped apart because in 45 minutes, you undid everything that I’ve spent the last two years trying to build up in my mind. Now Leanna’s studying politics, philosophy and economics from a free-market perspective, and she told me two weeks ago that she’s planning to go into a work to help rescue people from sex-trafficking. The profound impact that just explaining the facts can have is amazing.
The final thing is Words. So, Vision, Facts, and then Words. As Charlie and James and Rob were talking about a little earlier, clear communication and clear thinking go together. The Greeks had a word for the obviousness of reality; the kind of obviousness that you know. Like if you went up on top of the building and thought I just feel upness and you jump, you’re still going down, right? That’s the obviousness of reality. Well, the Greek’s word for the obviousness of reality was logos. In John I, John says, “In the beginning was the Logos…in the beginning was the Word.” The Logos of God. That the truth exists, and it doesn’t just exist as a logical proposition or a mathematical formula. The truth exists as a person. It’s Jesus. That’s the claim that John was making. Words have always been central to a Christian faith. In my doctoral work, I studied the communication development of children. We created play situations so that we could observe them communicating with one another. What we learned is little kids don’t, they don’t really play together, they sort of play individually side-by-side. And until they learn to use words to communicate with one another, all they have is parallel play.
We’ve got an entire culture that is locked in toddlerhood. Parallel play without the ability to really connect with one another. So we teach students how to use words well; to ask good questions; to engage in conversation and dialogue. The impact of this has been huge for us. George Barna helped us study this. We found that whereas only 4% of young adults in the United States of America today have a biblical worldview, which is a really disturbing fact in and of itself, 4% have a biblical worldview. By the time they leave two weeks at Summit Ministries, 85% have a biblical worldview.
Let me just give you one quick example, then I will close. Abortion is an issue that’s close to the hearts of many people that are here. Here’s what will happen if a student comes to Summit Ministries. First of all, they get a vision, because they won’t really care about the facts unless they see how they are personally involved. We tell them, “Don’t be an exploiter of other people. Be a warrior. Be a defender. Be a protector of the vulnerable. And not just vulnerable babies, but vulnerable women. Did you know that 75% of women who get an abortion in this country say that they felt pressured to do so by someone else? That’s not freedom of choice, that’s exploitation.” So, we help our students learn to get a vision for being protectors.
Then we help them understand the facts. We just lay out a logical proposition. You can use this in media interviews. I’ve done this in probably 20 media interviews. I’ve never had a reporter intelligently respond to it. We tell them, “Here’s the logical syllogism. It is always wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. And then we defend that proposition.
Then finally, we give the students words. We teach them a very simple acronym that allows them to, in even just 30 or 60 seconds, bring a pro-life position to bear in a conversation with someone who favors abortion, even if they’ve never talked about it publicly before. All of a sudden, you see pro-life leaders emerging. I see Seth Gruber in the back of the room here, a Summit Ministries graduate who is a pro-life advocate having an impact all over the United States of America, Lila Rose and so many others.
Well, let me close with this, the book that Brent mentioned, it’s called Truth Changes Everything. I wrote that book during a battle with cancer that I had about a year and a half ago, that many of you remember. I will just tell you that as of this month, I’m now 14 months in remission from cancer. I don’t take for granted anything anymore. Every day is a gift. And every day I feel like I’m understanding in a new way what Jesus said in John 8:32: “If you follow my teachings, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In history, and that’s what I show in the book, just stories, facts and examples and practical applications of how Jesus’ followers in history changed everything. In the past, truth changed everything, and it still can today. I would love to sign a copy for you if you want to be here at 3:30 this afternoon out in the lobby. Thank you so much.