by Allen West
Back in 1998 I was assigned to the 1st Battalion (Air Assault), 377th Field Artillery Regiment at Ft. Bragg as the Executive Officer, second in command. The Battalion was nicknamed the “Gunslingers”, and my call sign was Gunslinger 5. Ours was a unique mission in that we were a medium caliber, 155mm, cannon artillery unit whose mission was to train and be employed on the battlefield via helicopter insertion. Our soldiers had to be some really gutsy Bubbas to stand on top of a sling load prepped cannon while an Army CH-47 helicopter comes down overhead…and secure the artillery piece to the sling load towing hook of the chopper. And yes, they had to do that in pitch black darkness.
That is why our Battalion motto was four simple words, “Be Bold, Air Assault”.
I would offer that motto, especially the first two words, could be of good use to the House and Senate GOP at this time. There is another maxim that could be offered, “Go big, or go home”. Ronald Reagan gave the GOP some great advice when he spoke to the Young Americans for Freedom in 1975 when he cautioned that they should not seek to be “all things to all people”. Reagan cautioned against seeking out the pale pastels instead of painting in bold colors.
And what did the future President Reagan mean by that artful metaphor? He meant that we must present and articulate a clear delineation as to what, ideologically, the GOP must stand as in contrast to the Democrats.
If you consider back this time eight years ago when the Democrats held the White House, House, and Senate what type of legislative policy agenda they were setting forth. It was all about bigger government spending and control. It began with the $1T stimulus package folly which was supposed to be about “shovel ready” jobs, so why are we still talking about infrastructure spending? The Democrats embarked upon the massive uber trillion dollar folly we came to know as Obamacare. And in the aftermath, we find that Americans were not able to keep their doctors or insurance, and that premiums did rise. We have learned that Obamacare was nothing more than a massive tax and welfare law that created some 20 new taxes and a huge expansion of Medicaid. The Democrats made us all believe that the Dodd-Frank law would repair our financial system, yet it has only served to enable big banks to get bigger, and force small community banks to go under – meaning the lifeblood of our small businesses are dying.
We saw increased debt, yes, leftist detractors, we went from a national debt of $10.67T to one of $20T in eight years. And what exactly did we have to show for that, well, 1-2% anemic GDP growth for starters.
It is imperative for the GOP that now controls the White House, House, and Senate – not to mention 33 Governor’s mansions and a large majority of State Legislatures, I believe 69 of 99 to make the delineation--to Be Bold.
There is no debate that the Democratic Party of today is a progressive socialist party. It is a party that claims to be liberal, but not in keeping with the classical liberal ideals of John Locke who stressed individual liberty and natural rights. Today’s Democratic Party is one embracing the Marxist concepts of wealth redistribution, nationalizing of free market production, expansion of the welfare state, and social egalitarianism. The GOP must “Be Bold” and evidence a clear delineation to the leftist socialist policy vision of this post-modern liberalism, progressive socialism, of the Democratic Party.
I for one have grown tired of the incessant lexicon of failure and submission when I hear GOP leaders whine that we have a binary choice. Or that this is the best we can do, that was not Reagan’s calling card, he set forth a bold constitutional conservative policy agenda that made Carter’s four years of malaise a distant memory, irrelevant. When GOP leaders speak of “perfection being the enemy of good enough”, well, in my former Battalion where we proudly proclaimed “Be Bold”, that would have never been an acceptable mentality.
It is time the GOP stop seeking to be all things to all people. It is time they present a clear delineation between who they are, what they stand for, and that for which they are willing to fight. The GOP need not create insidious labels like “compassionate conservatism” which masked an expansive growth in government and spending. The GOP must ask itself the hard question, are we a constitutional conservative party that truly believes in the founding principles of governance for this Republic? Those principles are limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual sovereignty, and a free market/free enterprise economy. If the answer is no, then stop pretending to be in order to gain electoral support, only to disappoint.
The GOP legislative policy agenda must embrace those principles and more importantly be rooted in the belief that our individual inalienable rights come from our Creator, not the folks in government. The GOP must Be Bold and delineate themselves from the leftist Democratic Party in conveying to the American people that it is about the pursuit of happiness, and not a government mandated, or entitled, guarantee of happiness. It is not government’s business to give us all something. It is the design of our Republic to ensure the policies exist to establish justice (not some perversion of misguided social justice), ensure domestic tranquility (not exactly what progressive socialists are advocating with their violent protests), provide for the common defense (not in the last eight years), promote the general welfare (politicians are certainly providing welfare, not our defense), and secure the blessings of liberty (not when government is seeking to mandate our behavior and modify it by way of taxation, penalties, and fines).
The sad state of affairs is that the GOP continues to display a fear, recalcitrance, and reticence to be the party of bold colors. They continue to paint in pale pastels of a shade lighter than the Democrats. We can only hope that there will be someone who will “Be Bold” and restore constitutional conservatism to America.