Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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A Remembrance of John M. Ashbrook

On Principle, v7n1

February 1999

by Dan Quayle

One evening in the 1970’s, John Ashbrook and I were seated together on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, listening as another House member sang the praises of a federal spending initiative he’d proposed. The new program, our colleague declared, would cost millions and millions of taxpayer dollars, but was such a great idea that nobody in Congress would object to it. "I think the vote will be unanimous in favor," he said. Then John Ashbrook shouted, "Think again." Our colleague replied, "Oh, I forgot about the true believers over there."

All politicians have positions. The best politicians have principles. That was the great pleasure of serving with John Ashbrook. He knew where he stood, and always had a principled reason to back it up. He was the kind of congressman the founders envisioned for the country: honest, close to the people, and unshakable in his defense of limited government and personal responsibility. I think of him often, and I’m glad the Ashbrook Center is there to keep his legacy alive. Every generation of aspiring leaders can find inspiration in John’s life of principle and purpose.

Dan Quayle, 44th Vice President of the United States

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