While I never met him personally, I, like many Americans, are saddened by the death of Jack Kemp.
To quote a line of his from his 1996 vice presidential debate, “Before I begin speaking, allow me to say a few words.”
I share his gregariousness and locquatiousness, and hope to eventually reach a point worth observing. This is because Jack Kemp spoke from the heart, and he mattered.
I never thought I would ever link to an article from NPR, but this eulogy was very well stated.
His column in the Jewish World Review in October of 2002 was brilliant.
Whether a believer in politically conservative politics, or simply a lover of the National Football League (for me, both), flags at GOP and ESPN headquarters should be flying at half staff.
From a football standpoint, Jack Kemp showed resilience. As a quarterback, he was beaten into the ground by bigger men, only to get back up. He even said himself that his football career prepared him for politics because he “had already been cursed, booed, and burned in effigy.”
Yet as great as football is, it does not alter the world.
From a political and policy standpoint, Jack Kemp altered the world, and for the better.
Supply side economics is referred to lovingly as “Reaganomics,” but it was Jack Kemp who convinced Ronald Reagan to embrace tax cuts in marginal rates as a candidate, and implement tax cuts as President.
Supply side economics led to the bull market in stocks that lasted from 1982-2007.
Jack Kemp understood that the big concern was not deficits. It was growth. If a deficit doubles, but growth triples, then everything is fine. Businesses operate on deficits all the time. Governments issue debt. They are called bonds. Human beings own credit cards.
Yet the problem comes when growth stops. Jack Kemp truly understood that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Jack Kemp understood that cutting taxes was akin to freeing people from slavery. Removing the shackles and allowing people to experience liberty from government was what drove the economic engine.
In one word, Jack Kemp understood that America was about ingenuity.
Tax cuts were not about race, religion, or national origin. They were for everybody, and societies across the globe that implemented them benefitted.
This may seem like common knowledge to everybody to the left of Leon Trotsky, but back then this was revolutionary thinking. The Reagan Revolution would not have occurred without Jack Kemp.
While he was a two time champion with the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League, electoral success eluded him at the highest levels. His 1988 presidential campaign fizzled, as did his 1996 appearance as the vice presidential nominee.
Yet only in America, could a congressman from Western New York influence an entire generation of presidential politics.
He was a decent human being who genuinely cared about people.
His thoughtfulness is just as important to his legacy as his football championships and his political influence.
For all those reasons and more, Jack Kemp will me missed.
May God bless him and his family.