The political landscape is buzzing with left and right debates, and it is easy to overlook the vital issues in society. In this episode, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Allen West talks military and politics. Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) West is a combat veteran, political commentator, and former Member of the US Congress. He is a Fox News contributor, Senior Fellow of the Media Research Center, contributing columnist, and author. In this special episode, he talks about leadership, making difficult decisions with courage, and how parents can install values and principles that are much-needed in today’s world. He also introduces his most recent book, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, where he talks about the shifts in political dialogue in Texas.
We have Lieutenant Colonel Allen West. He’s a combat veteran, political commentator and former member of the US Congress. This is going to be an interesting show.
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Hold Texas, Hold The Nation: Talking Military And Politics with Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Allen West
I am here with Lieutenant Colonel Allen West who is a combat veteran, political commentator and former member of US Congress. He is a Fox News Contributor, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist and author. His book is Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death. He has done quite a bit. I want to introduce you. Welcome.
It’s good to be with you. Thanks for having me.
There’s so much that you’ve done. I would like for you to give me the Reader’s Digest background of the things that you are proudest of and define you of who you are now.
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia in the same neighborhood that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised in and preached in at Ebenezer Baptist Church. My elementary school was right across the street from the church. My dad was born in 1920. He was a corporal in the United States Army in World War II. My older brother was a lance corporal in the Marine Corps and went to Vietnam. My mom served 25 years of civilian service with the Marine Corps headquarters in Atlanta. My father-in-law did two tours of duty in Vietnam. He retired as an Army Master Sergeant after 24 years. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
My nephew is now serving. He’s a major in the United States Army, an artillery officer and a paratrooper like his crazy uncle who served 22 years after my father challenged me to be the first officer in our family. I’ve been married to Dr. Angela Graham-West who’s a financial advisor with Oppenheimer. We’ve had a great summer. Our oldest daughter completed her studies and graduated from physician assistant school. She is board certified. She’s getting her license here in the great state of Texas to practice. Our youngest daughter has graduated from Florida International University with her Bachelor’s degree.
It sounds like you guys value education and I love that. I saw your wife had a PhD. Do you know what her dissertation was on?
She had a dual major from Kansas State University in Marketing Finance. She got an MBA from Long Island University. While she was there teaching at Kansas State University after we got married, they told her that it would probably be better that she got something that was outside of the business discipline. She got her PhD in adult education psychology.
I was interested in your story about what you were talking about. You came from four generations of all these military people. I write a lot about curiosity and the things that inhibit people’s curiosity. One of them is the environment. Sometimes we have environments that will push us one direction or another. I’m curious how much you feel that having an environment of everybody being military has influenced you. If you didn’t go into the military and politics, what would have been your dream job?
I cannot even begin to think about anything other than the military. It was such an incredible influence on my life. My godfather, William ‘Sticky’ Jackson was a Tuskegee Airman. That was always around us. When I would go and visit my mom at work, I’m there. I’m looking at this incredible men called the United States Marines. It was something that I wanted to be in life. At the age of fifteen in 1976, my dad challenged me to be that first officer in the family. I started wearing a uniform in high school junior ROTC back in Atlanta. I’ll never forget my instructors, Lieutenant Colonel Pagonis, Major Heredia, Master Sergeant Buchanan and Sergeant First Class McMichael. They saw something in me that I didn’t think was there. They challenged and developed me as far as my leadership qualities, discipline and commitment to this country. All of those high school ROTC instructors I had were combat veterans in Korea, Vietnam and several of them even in both. Master Sergeant Buchanan had been a POW in Vietnam. When you sit and have these impeccable examples of American service, these men who has stood up and taken that oath, we think about where we are in this country if it were not for men and women who, as it says in Isaiah, “Whom shall we send? Who will go for us?” I had a burning desire to be part of that legacy in that lineage.
You brought up leadership qualities. I’m glad you did because I think it’s so important to look at what makes for a good leader. A lot of what I studied for my dissertation was empathy and emotional intelligence was my main overall factor that I’m talking about for leaders. You’re talking about their leadership qualities were so impressive. What stood out to you with them? What do you try to develop within yourself?
In my long years with the military and even afterward, I have come to understand that leadership is based upon what I call the five Cs. The first one is courage because to be a leader, you have to stand up and make decisions that may not be very popular, but you have to have that courage to go with it. Sometimes you have to stand alone. When we think about the HBO mini-series, the Band of Brothers, that unit of 101st Airborne division had a Cherokee nickname. That nickname was Currahee. It stood for “stands alone.” That’s the first and most important part of leadership. The second is competence. As I always tell people, “No one is going to follow a dummy into a firefight.” You’ve got to be able to have a level of competence and understanding in whatever field of expertise that you’re in because that’s what people want to follow.
They want to follow someone who’s courageous, but they don’t want to follow a dumb courageous person. They want to follow a competent, courageous person. The third C is commitment. It’s very important that you have a commitment to set core principles and values. For me, it has always been about the constitution because that’s what we’ve taken oath, to support and defend in our military. When you study and understand how that is our rule of law and how important it is for the sustainment of the longest-running constitutional republic that the world has ever known. Even if you have a commitment in something, even if you have courage and competence, you must be convicted. Sometimes as the popular winds change, you have to stay consistent.
Thomas Jefferson said, “In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of substance, stand like a rock.” You have to be convicted to those principles that you say you are committed to and that you have studied and developed your competence and the courage to support. The last C is the most important one and that’s character. I’ve always taught my daughters, soldiers, sailors and marines, anyone I come in contact with, is that character means doing what is right when no one’s watching. It’s very easy to straighten up the flower right when eyes are on you but when the eyes are not, that’s when is most important. Those are the five Cs of leadership: courage, competence, commitment, conviction and character.
Those are interesting and good qualities. When you talk about some of these, it pulls in some of the stuff that I talked to in groups about behavioral things that they see in the workplace. A lot of it comes down to people having a difficult time with empathy, looking at things from other people’s positions. Instead of doing as you’d want to have done is now they say, it should be more what they would like. How do you feel about what we’re doing in terms of building our empathy to understand one another in the world? Do you think that that’s becoming a challenge in the business world to do that?
It’s a challenge. Politicians play that against folks. They try to separate people based upon the evil corporate business leaders and the one-percenters and everybody else’s. What they’re trying to say that these individuals who have worked hard and been successful are not empathetic to others. As a commander at the time, I got deployed into combat. For me, it was always about the newest soldier who is the most important person in the unit but I still had responsibilities. I still had a mission to complete. Even though I care deeply about my soldiers, I also had to do the things and approve the missions that will put them into harm’s way, into harm’s danger. The best way for a leader to be able to empathize with the people that he is called to serve is understanding he’s been called to serve them. You must go down and share to participate in some of their activities. There are many times that I will go out on patrols with my soldiers.
I had a standard rule of one-third of our battalion was committed to any type of operation. I was going to go out and be a part of that operation. Sometimes even small patrols, I’d go out with them. That bolsters their confidence. You as a leader and the fact that you understand. If it’s late at night and someone has to be out there on watch, standing on the ramparts, you go out there and stand on the ramparts with them. You chat with them and talk about things, keep them relaxed and let them know what’s going through your mind, what are some of the concerns that you have. When we talk about empathy, it doesn’t mean that you have to go down and try to feel sorry for people, but you must understand the conditions that they’re in and how they are carrying out the overall mission of an organization. It also gives you an opportunity to share with them your concerns as the leader of that organization.You got to have a level of competence in whatever field of expertise that you're in because that's what people want to follow. Click To Tweet
As you were mentioning different people, you didn’t mention women. What place you’ve had to work with women in the military? What were the challenges for them that you saw?
I was a combat arms guy. I was in the artillery. We didn’t have females there, but the person that was the disciplinarian in our home was my mom. My mom wanted you to be a tough fellow. She always said, “The man must stand for something or else you’ll fall for anything.” My dad will follow that up by saying, “The measure of a man is not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get back up.” She did not seek to make excuses for you. She wanted you to go out there and find the hard path, the road less traveled because she knew that was the way by which you build yourself up. It’s easy to swim with the current, but if you want to make yourself strong, you swim against that current. That’s why it was so important to have one of those good old southern moms that still disciplined in direction. She will let you know when you’ve got to start coloring outside the lines.
You’re talking about standing for something. Sometimes we change as we go through life. Sometimes some of the things we stood for, we see different perspectives through time. Have you ever had your stand on something change in your mind and is that okay?
You should have certain truths that you hold to be self-evident, immutable truth or core principles. Those things are your foundation. That’s what creates that solid rock upon which you can stand. That does not mean that you, as we go through life, refine your perspectives and understanding of things. When you start to look at your core principles and values and you start to push them aside, you’re going to lose a part of who you are. That’s what I saw as a member of Congress. I saw a lot of people that said, “I’m going to go up here. This is what I’m going to do.” All of a sudden, the enticements and some of the influencers up there in Washington, DC caused them to stray away from their fundamental principles of values.
Once you do it the first time, it becomes a little bit easier the next time. The third time, it becomes incredibly easy. The next thing you know, you don’t recognize yourself when you look at yourself in the mirror. My litmus test was, every day at the end of the day, I had to at that guy in the mirror and know that I kept my honor, integrity and character. Those are three qualities that no one could take away from you. You can surrender them because you’re not standing as Jefferson said, as a rock. You find a lot easier to swim with that current and be a part of the style and the cultural whim of the day. That gets a lot of people in trouble.
You talk about getting in trouble. I know a lot of people in politics are held up to extra scrutiny. It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s out there forever. Do you have any regrets of anything you’ve ever done or said that you think, “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that or done that?”
The one thing that I regret is the vote that I cast in 2011 for the Budget Control Act. The Budget Control Act, if we did not find the right cuts for spending, the “sequester” was going to kick in. I asked even up to the speaker of the house, “What were the chances and the possibility of this sequester happening?” My friends are still in the military. My relatives are still in the military. I want to make sure that they did not see their resources and their capability and capacity undermined and eroded because of the failure of politicians. The most important responsibility of our Federal Government is to keep the American people and our answers safe and secure to provide for the common defense. That sequester came to fruition. We saw the incredible amount of budget cuts that happened to our military. It hurt me that I put my trust in some people up there in Washington, DC. They were not forthcoming and truthful. I do regret the fact that I gave my trust over to man when I should have been more circumspect and said, “This is too much of a risk.” That is probably my biggest regret about being a member of the United States Congress.
You have to have thick skin to be in politics. What appealed to you about being in it? Does it keep you up at night?
No, that’s silly. When folks are calling you names and I get called plenty of disparaging names, they don’t want to engage you in an intellectual debate about the issues, the things that you want. They’ve been relegated to the most imbecilic and idiotic thing on earth, is to call another person a name. I don’t get concerned about that. That’s why it comes back to that second C in leadership, is competence. You can call me a name, but if you’re not saying what I said is not truthful or if you’re not debating what I said and if you’re not countering my points, you’re not going to get my attention. It’s not how it happens. That’s the most important thing. What got me to get involved in politics is very simple. A woman, by the name of Donna Prosper, when I was on one of my breaks from Afghanistan, wanted to meet with me back in January of 2007. She said that just because you’ve taken off your uniform, your oath of office to the United States Constitution of this country does not end. She was right.
If you truly believe in what you said, you continue to stand up for this incredible nation that has done so much for me and so many people, not just here in America but from all across the world. Is America a perfect country? No. Our constitution says that we’re working towards being a more perfect union. When you think about what we have achieved and accomplished in 243 years in this nation, you show me any other country that has done what we have done. That’s because we have had these core set of fundamental principles of beliefs. The problem is that we don’t talk about it. We don’t educate ourselves about it. We don’t have a discussion about it. Therefore, it’s very easy to shift in your stance because you are worried about the prevailing winds of the society or the culture.
You’ve had a long history of politics. They talk about you running again for Congress.
It’s not a long history. I was only in office for two years.
I meant in the government in either politics or in the military. In politics, what do you like to see happen?
I’ll make an announcement about my future path because so many people have asked me to get back involved directly. I think that I’ve still been involved as being a voice in the constitutional conservative movement in this country. I had a retired three-star marine general that I worked for when I was on active duty. He looked at me and said, “You’ve got to get your you know what back in the fight.” You don’t tell a marine three-star general no. I had to say, “Roger on that, sir. Semper Fi. I’ll be doing that.” That’s why we looked at some options that I felt we could get back in and have an impact. One of those three options is the one that I chose because I felt that it would provide me the ability to have the most and the greatest impact and influence for the state of Texas and for my country.
You wrote this book about Texas. How long have you lived in Texas?
It’s going on five years. Even before that, my last duty assignment in the Army was down in Fort Hood, Texas in Central Texas.Character means doing what is right when no one's watching. Click To Tweet
For those of us who’ve never seen what it’s like to work in the Congress, is there something that was surprising to you that it was not what you thought it would be when you got there? Would it be any different going in from Texas as from Florida or in any other place?
No, because the swamp is the swamp. The interesting thing was that there are people that know they’re lying to you. They know that you know they’re lying to you and they still do it anyhow. The most important thing at the end of the day is that you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror. That’s the only Michael Jackson song that I liked is Man in the Mirror, because it’s so true. There are so many people that look at themselves in the mirror, but they are not really looking at themselves. They’re looking at some facsimile of who they used to be and that was amazing to me.
The other thing is that in the military, we didn’t quit until we accomplished the mission. We didn’t go home. We didn’t seek comfort or what have you and we believe at selfless service. We believed that we were there to stand upon the ramparts and we do what our mission was. The motto of the United States Army for whom I served 22 years is, “This will defend.” What I saw in Washington, DC was that people are concerned about their own interests or special interests. They don’t have that true north that guides them. They’re just going to respond or react to whatever Paul says or whatever someone in the media says. They are looking more so to compromise the peace and acquiesce instead of standing on principle for this great nation.
You mentioned those issues. Are there other things that bother you about politics that you would like to see changed?
I would like to see the American people become more engaged. One of the quotes from Plato is, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you shall be governed by your inferiors.” When I look at where we are now, it’s more of a popularity contest. Once upon a time in America, we looked to men and women who serve in the military to be our elected representatives. Back several years ago, the number of people that has served in the House and Senate that have served in the United States Military was above 70%. Now, that number is down around 18% to 90%. If you think about men and women that have been in the conflagrations that we’ve been engaged in, that number drops even further. It is very important that we, as the American people, start to ask ourselves, “What do we want in an elected representative?” The bar should be very high. Unfortunately, it’s become a marketing thing and a candidate becomes a product. People make a lot of shiny, pretty commercial ads and everything, glittery stuff. We end up focusing on the shiny toy or the shiny thing or the advertisement more so than we do on that person and what they truly believe in. There has to be a level of competence, scrutiny and intellectual rigor that the American electorate has once again to rediscover.
Having a president who is more of a business background, what do you think that impact has had on the presidency? Has it been positive or negative?
It’s a double-edged sword. You have someone for the business world and it’s all about the bottom line. It is not about the status quo or the way things are done in Washington, DC. It’s about getting things done because that’s what you have to have in the business world. In the business world, you have profits and losses. Unfortunately, in Washington, DC, they don’t have to balance a budget. Many of the folks up there are congressional representatives, House of Senate have never signed the front side of the check. Some of them have only signed the backside of a check. It’s a big difference. It’s a difference in responsibility.
The other thing is that when you have someone who’s coming from a business background, many times they’ve been the repository of all the decisions. They’re not very good at decentralized management and being able to give very good guidance, intent, left or right limits parameters and allowing the members of a cabinet or their staff to go out and make the right decisions. What we’re seeing in our country now is a double-edged sword. You cannot debate the fact that things are getting done. In many ways, someone with a strictly political background doesn’t get things done.
We’re seeing that the two parties are getting further apart in their beliefs. What do you think the answer is to that or do you not agree?
It’s a very simple answer. I tell people that Republican and Democrats mean nothing. It means less and less. This comes back to understanding the establishment of this country. This country was established saying that the individual reign supreme over the institution of government. If you have people that believe in the opposite, that the institution of government is supreme over the individual, you see the incredible chasm that has developed here in the United States of America. That’s openly being professed. I don’t think our founding fathers never wanted that to happen. They never wanted us to have this intrusive, invasive and onerous overarching apparatchik that’s called the government.
That’s why they had in our Bill of Rights and our constitution the Ninth and Tenth Amendment. It says, “All the power is not enumerated to the Federal Government, which are retained by the states and the individuals.” The problem is that we don’t teach civics anymore. We don’t teach these basic fundamental truths. It is not just to our kids, but we have adults that don’t understand the basic structure or the basic relationship of our country. Our founding fathers read people like John Locke and Charles Montesquieu to come up and create this incredible nation. For most of us now, if it takes us more than two and a half to three minutes, we go right past it because we’ve become such a sound-bite fast-food mentality population.
How would you appeal to younger generations to get them interested?
It’s very important that they understand that there are people that are making the decisions that affect your life. It’s very easy for someone to come along and say, “We’re going to give you something.” What we see with young people now is a result of empathy. When a bunch of adults were sitting there at Little League soccer games and Little League baseball games, they tried to empathize with the kid that didn’t get a chance to play. Back in the day, my mom and dad would have said, “You’re embarrassing us. You’re going to go back here in the back yard and practice. You’re going to train harder.” Now, what happened was a bunch of adults say, “We’re just going to give kids a trophy and call it a participation trophy.” Now, we have a generation that is growing up believing that they still are owed a participation trophy.
We have a generation that is growing up and doesn’t understand individual responsibility and accountability. They believe that someone else is going to come along to take care of things for them. It’s been an incredible cultural and societal shift that we have seen. For young people, I will simply ask, “Why would you want to turn your life over to someone else to make all the decisions?” One of the biggest challenges we have is to understand, “Do we still believe in the equality of opportunity? Are we embracing the equality of outcomes?” For a kid like me, born in the inner city of Atlanta, Georgia in a lower-middle-income family, to grow up and be the congressional representative for an area that had the highest per capita income ZIP code on the United States of America, that’s what we need to be talking about. We need to be talking about, “How do we make our young people victors and not victims?”
Why do you think you were able to reach that level and others have not?
First and foremost, in the inner city community, I had two parents that made an incredible difference. In 1961 when I was born, the two-parent household of the black community was 75% to 77%. Now, it’s 24%. You want to talk about the foundations and fundamentals, the two-parent household has been so vital and integral in the black community, especially going through some of the most turbulent times for the black community in the United States of America. Now, we’ve destroyed it. We undermined it. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a book called The Negro Family. He was completely against the Great Society welfare programs that Lyndon Johnson was talking about, which ended up doing exactly as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said. It destroyed the black family. Therefore, it destroyed the community.Empathy doesn't mean going down and trying to feel sorry for people, but understanding the conditions that they're in. Click To Tweet
That made a difference for me, having a father and mother that were rooted in their principles and values. As it says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way that they should go, and even when they grow old, they shall not depart from it.” They have a lasting impact on me and now that impact is being transferred over to our two daughters who are 26 and 22. My oldest daughter did two Master’s degrees in four years because education is important in our family. I have two Master’s. My wife has an MBA and a Ph.D. That has helped me to rise above and having parents who said, “The opportunities are out there. It’s about your will, drive and determination, not the outcomes of allowing someone else to make decisions about your life.”
I’m glad that you brought up because I’ve taught so many years in higher education and there’s such an issue with loans, students not paying back and how they get educated. What do you think the solution is? I had interviewed Andrew Yang. His stance is that we should give people $1,000 a month. They can use it for education. I know a lot of people who don’t agree with that.
Where is that money coming from?
It’s the taxes. I’ve worked for the Forbes School of Business. Steve Forbes has his own idea of paying. He had the flat tax and his own way of dealing with things. How would you pay for education? What’s the solution to this student loan issue?
When Jimmy Carter separated out and created three different branches, we used to have Health, Education and Welfare. He created the Department of Education. We’ve wasted a lot of money at the Federal Government level on stuff that there is a state-local issue. That’s why we have school boards. We need to educate people on things like the 529 college education fund. My parents were low middle income, but they knew that they wanted me, their middle son, to go off and get a college education and they saved for it. They planned for it. I want to see people plan for it.
I don’t think that we need to tell young people that if you decide that you want to go to college and this was the degree that you want to get into and you decide to go to a very expensive college, then all of a sudden, you come out and you have this high debt. You’re not able to get the right type of requisite job. You should look to someone else to assume that responsibility. That’s one of the big things that we have to face in this country. Are we going to empower individuals but also, are we going to hold individuals accountable for their own decisions?
My wife and I make sure that we had a plan for our daughters. Our oldest daughter wanted to go through college. She said she wanted to be a PA. We set her up for success. SMU, Southern Methodist University, is not a cheap school. We were able to fund her going to SMU for a Master’s program and help her about 50% to 60% wise in her PA program that she completed. It’s the same with our youngest daughter. We have made sure that her undergrad education was taken care of. They’re my responsibility. When you look at the high cost of education, our college campuses and I went to the University of Tennessee, are like five-star resorts now.
We need to make sure that our young people are going into the disciplines that are not going to cause them to spend four or five, maybe six years, in college and run student loan debt. When they come out, they have no return on investment. The other thing is that the Federal Government nationalized college student loans. That was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. People call it Obamacare and they raised interest rates. The Federal Government are bilking students in order to fund Federal Government programs. That’s another thing that we need to look at. We need to get it back to the hands of private-sector financial institutions, whereby a student can go in and they can negotiate truly the terms of a loan.
For students who would like to be students and their parents have not saved for them, what would you advise them to do then?
One of the things that we find in life is that people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. Even if you are a student in the eighth, ninth grade, you start preparing yourself to go out there and seek out scholarships and things that you can have. There are Army ROTC scholarships. There are appointments to the service academies. All of the service academies are in the top ten in institutions in the United States of America. For whatever reason, there’s this mantra or belief that we’re laying down. It’s that everyone has to go to college. That’s not the case. A lot of people can decide, “I want to be able to be a productive service.” I want to have a productive skill, something that I can use in my local community or what have you. I think that we need to be advocating for that as well, not just for someone to sit around and get a degree in Gender Studies. What are you going to do with a degree in Gender Studies other than graduate? You have an immense amount of debt and you can’t work it off by being in Starbucks.
That leads me to another point, a minimum wage job is not meant to be a career. There are people that are purporting that it is. That’s why they think you should be getting $15 to $25 to work at a fast-food restaurant, a minimum-wage job. What we should want people to do, especially our young people, is to gain responsibility and accountability at these minimum wage jobs and move on. That’s a transition point. There are many different scholarship programs there. My wife was originally born in Jamaica. There are many people that come here to the United States of America. They take advantage of the immense amount of grants and scholarships that are out there that enable them to go on to college. Those grants and scholarships hold them accountable to a degree program that they can come out and can provide some benefit to our American economy.
Do you think that students who get their degrees paid for by their parents should pay their parents back?
No, because that’s my responsibility. My wife and I brought two daughters into this world. I am going to set them up for every level of success. You talk about my resume. Who gives a damn about my resume if my children are a failure? That’s what I think parents need to understand. It’s not about them. It’s about what they pass on.
I know Jackie Onassis had said something similar and it’s important what we do with our children. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens with the next generations in the business world. I don’t know if you’ve seen the data about how the latest generation, Gen Z, is the most stressed generation. What do you think we’re doing to make them so stressed out? What’s the solution?
It’s very simple. We are going in and we’re not allowing them to go out and take a fall. We’re hovering over them. We’re so risk-averse. Here in the great state of Texas, the person that wrote that letter from the Alamo to Sam Houston, William Barret Travis was 26 years of age. He led 185 men to include a guy from Tennessee by name of Davy Crockett who was a former member of Congress. It’s 185 men for thirteen days. When you read that letter that he wrote, you ask yourself, “How many 26-year-olds in the United States of America could write a letter like that?” It’s incredible. I told you about the participation trophy. Let me quickly tell you this story. I was a real tough high school football player. Back in the day, there was no such thing as a target. You weren’t a tough guy unless you put your head down and you went head-to-head with another person. One day, I knocked myself out. I came to my senses over there on the sideline. They gave me the smelling salts and everything like that.
I turned around and there was my mom. She had come down out of the stands and was behind me there on the sideline. In that sweet southern voice, my mom asked me, “Baby, are you okay?” In a fuzzy way, I said, “Yeah, mom. I’m good to go.” My mom told me, “Next time you tackle him, you’ve got to wrap him up. You’re tackling technique was not good. You’ve got to wrap this guy up next time. Don’t let him bounce off of you.” That is a mom that doesn’t raise you to run away from trials and tribulation. She challenges you to get out there and compete. That is what we must have. We must have adults that are teaching our kids to go out there and fight and earn for it. Think about how we are coming down regulations to tell kids, “You can’t have a lemonade stand,” and that’s supposed to be beneficial to our children?You should have certain truths that you hold to be self-evident or immutable truth, and that's your foundation. Click To Tweet
What’s the point for that? Why do that?
What we’re teaching the kid is that instead of being an innovative businessperson and sitting there saying, “It’s hot. These adults are out here mowing the grass or whatever. I’m going to open up a lemonade stand. I’m going to charge $0.05. I’m going to become my own little self, independent little person.” Instead, we tell them to sit back and wait. “We’ll give you this. We’ll give you an allowance.” My dad never gave me an allowance. My dad gave me a lawnmower and that is the difference. Now, we have these young people that when the battery on their iPhone gets low, they freak out.
It is a different time. I grew up in a very competitive family. I hear you when you talk about the differences that we see, but it’s hard to generalize.
You have to agree there’s been a societal shift.
There always is.
This is not a good one.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. You talked about your announcement that you’re going to make for Congress. Do you have aspirations for presidency someday? What is your long-term goal?
It’s whatever God would have me to do. I trust in the Lord with all my heart. I’ll lean upon him to direct my path. I don’t sit around here and try to map out where I want to be. I always want to be at the place where I can be used to serve God and country. That’s the most important thing.
What are the biggest changes you’d like to see in the government that we’re not getting changed now that you think the president has control over?
I would like to see us as an American people stop falling for the voices of victimization and listen to it within our own hearts to once again be victorious. I want us to get back to the blocking and tackling of what made this the greatest nation that the world has ever known. That is individual, will, drive and determination. Anything that would constrain or restrain that, it’s not who we are as the American people.
Is there anything specific in terms of a platform that you’d like to see?
The most important thing is our strong national security and foreign policy. I hear people talking about an economy that works for all. That sounds very well. I wish that I had been born 6’3 or 6’4 and I could have been playing in the NFL and NBA. What you do is you take whatever talents and abilities you have. We need a Federal Government that enables us to be successful in our own definitions of success. That’s why Thomas Jefferson say this about the pursuit of happiness, not a guarantee of happiness in the Declaration of Independence. I want to see policies that enable us to have the next generation of incredible investment, innovation, ingenuity, economic growth and prosperity. It’s about equality of opportunity, not about equality of outcomes. That is why I wish people would focus when they’re developing the policies for this country.
We have so much negativity in politics. How are we going to get over that?
It comes back to the electorate. Politics has become the playground of the incompetent. When you’re an incompetent person and you run up against a competent person, what are you going to do? You’re not going to debate them. The only thing you’re going to do is call them names. Unfortunately, we have an electorate this much the same as the people that filled into the arena in Rome to see the gladiators fight. That’s what they like to see. When you have a 24-hour news cycle, you’ve got to fill it up with something. What we ended up filling it up with was sensationalism. The American people have to be a little bit more circumspect. They have to be a little bit more critical in their thinking and stop falling us under to the shiny object.
When you’re on these shows as a commentator, do they want you to poke the bear?
They do. That’s why I tend to be more so on Fox Business Channel than Fox News Channel. I am not the guy that wants to be pitted up against someone and we’ve got to go back and forth or whatever. I’m happy to have an intellectual discussion. One of my most favorite big news was when I did an interview with Mark Levin it. It was just Mark and me for an entire hour. We covered a whole range of gamut of issues and perspectives. We had a great conversation. Mark is an incredibly intelligent guy so he’s not going to ask you softball questions. He’s going to see what level of intellectual rigor that you have. That’s why I enjoyed that. I wish we had more shows like that. I will tell you that I remember the old Crossfire. It used to be on CNN. I love that show. You sat down and listen to both of these individuals that were discussing things. It was Robert Novak and Michael Kinsley. You learn the art of defending your position. That’s where we’ve gotten away from.Parents need to understand that it's not about them, it's about what they pass on. Click To Tweet
It’s the old Dan Aykroyd point-counterpoint that they used to do on Saturday Night Live to showcase what it was like in an extreme. I know what you’re saying. I like to see both sides. There’s so much negativity that gets written about especially that you make very known that you’re a Christian as you’ve pointed out some scripture on the show. I realized that you are. What do you think of the differences in religions of how people aren’t accepting of other people’s religions? Do you think we’re at a point where we see a lot of that? Is that too much of a problem? Do we need to be more open? What’s your viewpoint on that?
Religion is man-made. What I believe in is the Judeo-Christian faith heritage. They had an incredible fundamental place in the establishment of this country. In 2 Corinthians 3:17, it says that, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, that is where liberty is.” If you don’t recognize individuals within a faith or belief, that goes contrary to everything that we believe in western civilization. Back on October 31st, 1517, the whole reason why Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses on the church doors in Wittenberg was that he believed that every person had a right to have a relationship with their heavenly Father. You did not need to go through someone else that would make atonement or you had to pay them indulgences so that they could pray for your sins. That’s the fundamental thing about Christianity is individual salvation.
Many years later, an English political philosopher by the name of John Locke said that a person has a right. If their spiritual liberty, comes from their Creator then all your rights and all your liberties come from the Creator, God. The natural rights theory is natural. That happens. He came up with this inalienable rights of the individual and of these were life, liberty and property. They come from the Creator, not from a man, a king or queen or whatever. Many years later, Thomas Jefferson wrote those incredible words in our Declaration of Independence. That is why it’s so important that we study, understand and see these intricate relationships. The Judeo-Christian faith heritage is about individual salvation. That is about individual freedom. That is what we must come to understand. It’s not about collectivizing people into different groups or pitting them against themselves. It’s about recognizing the potential in each and every person and allowing them to reach their potential. Some people are going to need a safety net. I got it. Too often, we have people that are advocated for a hammock. That’s completely different.
Since 9/11, we’ve had a lot of focus on issues with the Middle East, Muslims and the situation of people not understanding who they should embrace or who they shouldn’t be afraid of based on what we’ve had in some of these situations. Do you think that we’ve lumped everybody into this category and fear people for no reason?
No. There are some people that have been very good at misconstruing some things. This is not about Muslims. I stand alongside many Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s about individual freedom. This is about an Islamic fascist perspective. Some people call it Islamism that wants to subjugate the individual to some collective. I don’t think that’s a good thing. I’m proud of my two daughters. I will not support any belief system that sees them as not equal to anyone else and that’s the most important thing. We put them in a place of subjugation and subservience. That was one of those more perfect union things. That was one of those sayings that we grew through and we perfected here in the United States of America.
Are we there yet? No. Maybe we still have some refinements, but we don’t look at women as second-class citizens in the United States of America. There are incredible ideological differences between different beliefs or faith in this country. We need to be able to have an open discussion about that. When people try to suppress that discussion by the name-calling again, islamophobe, thisaphobe, thataphobe then that keeps us from being able to have that debate. There are many people that have come here from Islamic countries because they wanted to be free in the United States of America. They understood that they could not have all of the freedom. They understood that their daughters could not have all the freedom that they have here. That is what we must talk about. We must support and defend.
If your daughters wanted to convert to another religion, would you be okay with that?
It’s if my daughters want to go from Baptist to Catholic. It’s about the Judeo-Christian faith heritage. That’s the terms by which I talked to my daughters. My daughters sat down and watched the documentary Honor Diaries because I want them to understand and hear from the mouths of women within the Islamic world. That’s what we do as parents. We don’t try to shape our children’s ideological belief system. We try to educate and inform them, enabling them to make the best possible decisions.
This has been interesting about your announcement. I’m very interested in hearing about that. You have written your book that is available and titled Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death. Is there any website or something that you would like for people to know about since you’re making this big announcement to contact you?
Thank you so much. This has been very interesting. We don’t do a lot of political shows so I appreciated you going around the world here with all these different topics. We touched on so much. I appreciate having you on the show.
I appreciate you. You’re a great moderator and a great interviewer.
I’d like to thank Lieutenant Colonel Allen West for being my guest. We get so many interesting guests on this show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can go to DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com. You can find all the past episodes there. I hope you enjoyed this show. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
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About Lt. Col. (Ret) Allen B. West
Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Allen B. West is a combat veteran, political commentator, and former Member of the US Congress. He is a Fox News Contributor, Senior Fellow of the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith, and Freedom, and his most recent book, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death.
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