A Voice for Values


Alan L. Keyes '72 always knew he could speak to an audience, but it was not until he finished Harvard that he found his voice.

Keyes' voice resounded loudly and clearly during his bid last year for the Republican presidential nomination. While critics on the left accused him of mixing religion and politics, his conservative backers lauded him for focusing the presidential-campaign lens on the far-reaching effects of America's moral decay.

With passionate rhetoric and a fiery delivery, Keyes fought hard to distinguish himself from the rest of the Republican contenders to be the most conservative and to bring civic ideals back into public debate.

"I will not join the Clinton Democrats who worship government as their god. I will not join the Dole Republicans who worship power as their god," Keyes shouted at the Louisiana Republican convention. "I will stand where the founders of this nation stood...[with] the creator God who is the ground of justice...of all our human rights!"

While a deeply religious Catholic, Keyes maintains that his notions of justice and human rights are not restricted to the Judeo-Christian creed.

"Rights are a moral concept," Keyes explains in an interview. "The moral life is not solely a Christian thing, though it is totally in harmony with Christian beliefs."

Preserving the traditional two-parent family is fundamental to raising the moral standard in society, Keyes says. And abortion is but one of many social ills that can be, alleviated by strengthening the family, he adds.

"I noticed that [Republican leaders] I thought were good were no longer doing right in my view," Keyes says. "I saw a big assault on the pro-life plank and the moral family."

Keyes stepped into the primary fray to "make sure moral issues were addressed."

"Clinton is a charlatan, a fake, a phony, but he was better than Dole because he at least was willing to speak to the moral issues," Keyes says.

The first black to seek the Republican presidential nomination, Keyes downplays his race and emphasizes the broad appeal of values.

"Morals have nothing to do with race," Keyes says. "My campaign was about those who believe in moral authority and those who didn't."

Keyes' image as a color-blind conservative endeared the black Catholic to many white evangelical Protestants. When James Dobson, host of the syndicated conservative radio show "Focus on the Family," aired an eight-minute speech by Keyes that reached listeners across the nation, the show received a large response. According to the show's spokesperson, Paul Hetrick, the program received 10,000 letters and phone calls in response to Keyes' speech.

"The radio provides one of the better platforms for discussion of public policy," Keyes says. "So much of discussion [among politicians] degenerates into propaganda, but the debate and dialogue on radio brings people who disagree together."

Following his failed bid for the White House, Keyes returned to hosting his radio show and was recently offered a job at Fox News as a social commentator.