The founders of this country were quite an extraordinary group. Together, they created a unique government that they visualized would be run by individuals like themselves – ordinary citizens. They never envisioned a professional class of political leaders. The election of 2010 brought many non-professional politicians to Washington, but none more noteworthy than Colonel Allen West (R-FL).
West created a lot of publicity during the 2010 election, most noticeably because he is a Black Republican. In addition, he delivered some speeches that went viral on the Internet and ignited tremendous interest in his candidacy. He was defined as a Tea Party candidate that spoke bluntly about what was going on in America and about our campaign against Islamic terrorism. Since his election in November 2010, he has become the most visible member of the 84 newly-elected Republicans. When I asked a veteran Congressman his thoughts on the freshman class, the first name he mentioned was Allen West.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. West in a one-on-one discussion, and I found it to be a singular experience. In the past 35 years, I’ve spent time with many elected officials: City Council members, Assembly members, Mayors, Governors, even a President. Five minutes with Colonel West convinced me that he was different from any other elected official I had ever encountered. A serene humility pervades the man. For someone who has captured so much attention and attracted such a large following, one might guess that there would be a significant ego, but instead there is a unique wholesome genuineness that quickly becomes very evident. My personal BS meter usually registers instantly when I listen to politicians, but the meter was never needed with Mr. West.
I asked Mr. West a series of questions to which he had forthright and candid answers. When asked about his affiliation with the Tea Party, he explained that he had run in 2008 on the same platform and won 45% of the vote. The Tea Party found him – not vice-versa – and he clearly believes that the Tea Party is a reaction to the irresponsible debt and spending of the Obama Administration. Like Herman Cain, West is a huge favorite of Tea Party members, thereby contradicting the racial accusations shamefully fabricated by far-left members of Congress and despicably perpetuated by their cronies in the Mainstream Media.
West made clear that his role as a Congressman was far less important than maintaining his family life. He returns to his wife and daughters in Florida every weekend, and he has maintained his regimen of running – and not gaining any weight! – since entering Congress. He considers running one of his hobbies, along with scuba diving and following college sports, particularly those involving his two alma maters, Tennessee and Kansas State (where he received his master’s degree).
Mr. West has not yet committed to a Presidential candidate. He appears to be waiting for the voters to determine the best person to run against Barack Obama. He feels strongly that the candidates do themselves a disservice by participating in debates hosted by unfriendly organizations like MSNBC. He believes that this is a no-win situation in which they are being set up for a fall. Hopefully, the standard bearer will wisely choose who moderates the debates against Obama, making sure that the Republican gets as even-handed a situation as possible, even with a media so heavily biased in favor of the President.
I asked Congressman West about the obvious difference in demeanor between himself and President Obama. Whereas Obama often gloats in blatant self-promotion during his speeches, you could never imagine West doing such a thing. West spoke of the difference in the background of the two men. He referred to his own military career which, combined with his modest upbringing, gave him an entirely different perspective than the President. To West it is never about himself; it is about what is right, and what is best for the country. The most stirring part of our interview occurred when I asked the Congressman what he found most surprising about his first 10 months in Washington. He replied: “The comfort that some people have with lying.” As a man of principle, and a veteran of a long military career, he is unaccustomed to and clearly uncomfortable with that behavior. In the military, if you lie it can cost lives, and it was crystal clear during his 2010 campaign that the reason West created such a stir was his habit of speaking the truth. That is very different from the Washington culture, where speaking the truth is considered a gaffe.
Allen West’s political future remains undefined. Because Democrats don’t like seeing a Black man so visibly and coherently speaking for the opposition, he has become a colossal target for the left. November 2012 will determine much for him, but he has amassed a strong campaign fund and is prepared for any challenge. You can rest assured that any national spotlight that Allen West earns is because of who he is and what he stands for, and not – like too many other politicians – because he grabs every nearby microphone.