Elisabeth Meinecke
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GOP Florida Rep. Allen West served his country in Afghanistan, but now he’s battling on very different front lines: Congress.

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From Townhall Magazine's June feature, "Allen West: The New Face of American Black Leadership," by Katie Pavlich:

“I’m living the American dream,” GOP Florida Rep. Allen West tells Townhall as he sits in his congressional office in Washington, D.C.

Now a freshman congressman, West grew up in the inner city of Atlanta in a healthy, old-school style, twoparent home. Both of his parents are from southern Georgia. West’s father served in Gen. George Patton’s III Corps in the European theatre during World War II and worked in a Veterans Affairs hospital when West was growing up. His mother worked for 6th Marine Corps District headquarters.

“My hair has always been quite short and cropped closely,” West jokes. ...

WEST GOES TO WASHINGTON

“Just because you retire from the military and take off your uniform does not mean that your service to this country has ended,” says West, who had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel by the time he retired from the military.

“Just because you retire from the military and take off your uniform does not mean that your service to this country has ended,” says West, who had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel by the time he retired from the military.

“The thing that has really shocked me is the amount at which people are willing to lie, have no problem doing it and know that they’re lying,” West says. “I just wish people would step back and really think about what the fundamental principles and values that established this great nation were, and we need to get back to that.”

What does Washington really need? West think it’s more members of Congress with military experience and values. He believes the core values of integrity, honor and character, the cornerstones of serving in the military, should be used as the cornerstones for serving in Congress.

“Once upon a time, 75-80 percent of the members of Congress were men that had served in combat, served in a uniform. I think this country would be even greater if we went back and tapped that resource of those men and women who have raised their right hand and were willing to lay down their lives for this country,” West says.

Although still new to the House of Representatives, West has made a name for himself among a sea of congressman. He’s been able to effectively push back on the Washington, D.C.- establishment and fight the Left at the same time. He’s done it by holding himself and members of his staff to high standards and by refusing to compromise on conservative principles.

“You just have to stand on principle. We, this office, have been effective in showing strength and resolve and commitment and, you know, sound principles that are based upon pragmatic solutions,” West says. “Anytime you come with new ideas, there are going to be those who kind of give you a bit of pushback because they believe there is going to be a challenge to establish control or power.”

West has also been successful by recognizing the importance of preserving the American dream and equal opportunity, not equal results, in American society.

“In 1961—when I was born in the inner city of Atlanta, Ga.,—the district that I represent right now [in Florida], someone like me or my parents could not have gone to those beaches,” West says. “But that’s the greatness of the exceptionalism and that’s what the American dream means: that no matter where you come from, no matter where you were born, just based upon your own drive and determination, you can achieve whatever greatness you want in this country. That is what my parents taught me. America is about equality of opportunity.”

Now, the retired military officer who couldn’t have gone to the beaches in his district 50 years ago wakes up at 5 a.m. and goes on his regular six-mile run (seven when he has extra time)—a run that takes him down the street where he lives, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol. ...

West’s name has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, but for the election in 2012, there’s speculation he should be on GOP vice presidential nomination shortlist. West won Townhall’s online veepstakes poll for the month of April, beating out a field that included GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Sarah Palin also volunteered her support for West serving as vice president.

So, would he take the job?

“I can’t predict what life holds ahead for me, but what I can say is I’ll always seek to serve my country in whatever capacity that the American people ask me to serve. I first got to ask God and make sure that I’m prepared to do it, and then I’ve got to ask my wife and my two daughters. If I get the seal of approval from God and from them and from some very close personal friends, then, yes, I would do it,” West says.

Read more of Katie Pavlich's interview with Rep. Allen West in the June isssue of Townhall Magazine.

 

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Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is TOWNHALL MAGAZINE Managing Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lismeinecke.