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Were you shocked when you learned that Navy SEAL, author, humanitarian, and charity founder, Eric Greitens, was born and raised and voted Democrat?
Sure, I’d heard the rumors. The whispers spread by some Republican campaign operatives. But I’ve learned to trust those campaign operatives about as far as I fund the national debt.
Then, Senator John Lamping sent me a link to this Fox News story:
So, the rumors were true. Eric Greitens was a Democrat.
Obviously, I read all of his confession.
I was raised as a Democrat. I was taught that Harry Truman was the greatest president ever because he was strong, stood up to the communists, and most important, he was from Missouri. I was taught to stand up for the little guy, and that bigger government was the best way to do that.
But the worst was yet to come.
I registered to vote as a Democrat, and several years ago some Democrats even tried to recruit me to run for Congress.
Reading Greitens’s words on Fox News, I realized that this story will likely shatter some people’s faith. How could it not?
Imagine growing up in the Millennial era, born after about 1981. By the time you started paying attention to things like politics, Bill Clinton was President. The federal budget was balanced. Unemployment was impossibly low. Ordinary people were building McMansions with oversized garages for wintering their express cruisers. Peace and prosperity abound. Two interns in every pot.
Your mom and dad might have been Republicans or Democrats, but all your favorite teachers were Democrats. So were the cool kids. And they all sort of laughed at the few geeky kids who admitted they were Republicans. Or, funnier still, conservatives.
Then, of course, came George W. Bush and, like, thank GOD you told everyone you were a Democrat. I mean, ya know. Right?
Now, you read this. A guy who’s like the Avengers version of every good quality you were raised to admire writes, “I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way.”
You google this dude and everything SCREAMS Democrat. He went to Rwanda and Croatia to help the people Republicans hate, right? And he worked with homeless kids in Bolivia. And with Mother Teresa. And then he turned down a bunch of money from hedge funds and investment banks to start a charity. Does that sound Republican to you?
I mean, sure, he was a Navy SEAL and all. And he was a championship boxer in England, too. But he was a Rhodes Scholar with degrees in philosophy.
How could a role model be a . . . Republican? And call himself a conservative?
OMG! What if I’m . . .?
You read on, hoping that whatever turned this Greitens dude Republican doesn’t infect you.
As I got older, I no longer believed in their ideas. Even worse, I had concluded that liberals aren’t just wrong. All too often they are world-class hypocrites. They talk a great game about helping the most vulnerable, with ideas that feel good and fashionable. The problem is their ideas don’t work, and often hurt the exact people they claim to help.
Weird. Still talking about helping people. (I thought he was a Republican?)
It’s not that I doubted their intentions. But good intentions are easy. Even easier when you’re spending other people’s money.
Okay. That sounds pretty Republican.
I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear.
Well, duh. Of course, caring for people means results. Like how many Facebook likes you get, right?
I was raised to stand up for the little guy, for working families and the middle class. I am committed to that principle today more than ever. And if I thought the Democratic Party had the right ideas to do that, I’d still be one of them. But they don’t. And if I trusted career politicians to fix the problems they created, I’d still be standing on the sidelines. But I don’t.
So Eric Greitens lost faith—in the Democratic Party, in liberalism, and in career politicians. Because each of those had a heavy hand in creating the very problems he recognizes need fixing before his kids get old enough to deal with them.
At this point, some people’s faith will shatter. Not the faith of people who’ve been praying for a leader like Eric Greitens—but the faith of people who blindly followed the mob into the great abyss of liberal “caring” and establishment selfishness.
I believe Greitens’s testimony will shatter some lifelong Democrats’ faith in their party. It will shatter some casual voters’ faith in selecting the “lesser of two evils.” Eric Greitens will shatter the revolving door through which the parties rotate to advance their interests and their friend’s interests at the expense of good government.
I am reminded that Ronald Reagan was a Democrat until he delivered his famous speech for Barry Goldwater in 1964, “A Time For Choosing.” In his opening remarks, Reagan said, “I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course.”
Reagan was born in 1911; he was 53 when he converted. Eric Grietens needed only about 40 years to reach the same conclusion as the Gipper. (Maybe all that book learnin’ did Eric some good after all.)
Some of us “cradle conservatives” might question Greitens’ bonafides. That’s fine. I suggest they find someone who served with Greitens—in Rwanda, in Croatia, in Iraq, or anywhere he’s served his country and his fellow man. Ask those who’ve been in the line of fire if Greitens has the steel to carry through on his mission.
And what is that mission?
So what would I do? I believe in limited but effective government. I believe in replacing ObamaCare with something that actually works. I believe in putting working families and job creation ahead of special interests. I believe that in a free society we have to defend religious liberties and the 2nd Amendment, and protect innocent life, so everyone has the freedom to pursue happiness. I believe in reforming welfare, so every person can have a chance at a life of dignity, purpose, and meaning. And I believe America’s public schools should be the best in the world
In other words, I believe we have a lot of work to do.
Not a long list but people with long agenda seem never to get around to accomplishing the first item. Ronald Reagan came to office with an even shorter list: fix the economy, shrink the government, and restore respect for America around the world.
As for me, my faith in the political establishment was shattered long ago. I’ve had too many career politicians lie to my face about matters both specific and general. (You know who you are.) I’ve seen career politicians seduce and corrupt wide-eyed activists with promises of access to famous people and campaign jobs.
My faith in government was shattered when I realized the war on poverty has taken $22 trillion out of the economy and into Washington—the spoils of war distributed between academics, bureaucrats, and crony capitalists while poor neighborhoods deteriorated, poor families lost whatever pride they once had, and “caring” became synonymous with handouts to “keep the rabble quiet.”
Something’s gotta break.
I hope Eric Greitens’s op-ed on Fox News shatters some people’s faith. We need some converts. We need some reinvigorated cradle conservatives. And we need a leader whose entire life is defined by action and results, not promises and excuses.
We need a leader whose actions speak for him.
We need a leader whose actions say simply, “follow me.”
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Also published on Medium.