During my twenty years in the Army, I served under some great leaders, as well as some guys that wore general stars on their collar and thought they were leaders. The troops quickly detected the phony façade of those generals that used their political skills to get to the top, sacrificing their integrity, honor and most of all the respect of their troops to do so.
Then there were the leaders you would follow to hell and back. Not because they wore a star on their collar, but because they earned your respect, established trust and could be counted on when the going got tough, even if it was at the expense of their own careers. These were the men I came to admire, and now they are what I and the rest of the country are looking for.
Where are they? The Republican Party was once filled with them; men of honor, men of conviction, men of principle. Men that elected to choose the hard right over the easy wrong; today these men are hard to find. The Republican Party is in search of new leaders because the current crop has let our party down.
They have abandoned the principles of smaller government, less spending, lower taxes and have become drunk with power. Power they thought could be retained by giving out entitlements to constituents and earmarks to special interests, even if it meant bankrupting the country in the process.
They sold out their base in an effort to appease the media and kiss up to what they thought were “swing voters.” They thought if they just kept talking like Republicans but acted like Democrats, they could keep their power. They were horribly wrong and not only did their wrong-headedness and convoluted thinking bring them down, but it brought the Republican Party down with them.
Integrity and accountability have been exchanged for corruption and finger pointing. Conviction and commitment have given way to capitulation and abandonment of our party principles. They led our party astray and now we are left like a ship at sea with no Captain to guide it. So as a party, WE THE PEOPLE must stand up and take the helm.
It’s time for new leadership in this party; leadership that can get the party back on track. The American people want leadership that re-establishes credibility and trust. Americans aren’t stupid; they know a patsy and a puppet politician when they see one. You know what I’m talking about, “that guy” that’s in there because he’s in the back pocket of special interests and the elites. “That guy” might win a few elections at the lower levels, but when the time comes where he might be entrusted with real power, the people will know him, won’t trust him, and will abandon him.
Americans not only want to vote for someone they can trust, but for someone that will take charge. Someone who will drive the train and not just ride in the caboose. They want leaders with vision and a plan to make our country stronger, secure our children’s economic future and provide security. They want leaders that will stand up to the tyranny and oppression from those both within our borders and from overseas. Most of all, people want leaders that are positive and give them hope for the future, not ones that act beaten and destitute.
While Democrats tried to fill that tall order by running candidates that mimicked the core Republican principles of family values, fiscal responsibility, and government accountability they fell way short of achieving those principles that brought Ronald Reagan to the White House in 1980 and gained Republican control of the House of Representatives in 1994. As a party, we and our future leaders need to get back to the basics and start applying those principles.
For these core principles are what united our party in the 80’s and 90’s. They are the principles that held up the roof of the “Big Tent” that Reagan talked about. They are the principles all Republicans can rally behind, whether they be staunch conservatives or moderates.
Those principles are:
Reducing the size and scope of the Federal Government
Promoting individual independence and self reliance
Reducing the reliance on the government
Respect for the not only the law but the spirit of the law
A strict adherence to the Constitution
Defending Liberty and Freedom from oppression
and Making our country more secure
We as a party need to unite around these core principles. We need to tone down the intra-party rhetoric. We need to knock off the name calling, the attaching of labels like RINO and adhere to the 11th commandment. And we must remain civil when we discuss issues near and dear to our hearts so as to not damage our candidates or our message.
If we do this, we will once again become the “Grand Old Party” of Lincoln and Reagan. We will set ourselves apart from the Democrats, particularly the ones that want America to fail, become weakened and to retreat in the face of our enemies.
We shall show the American people that there’s a difference between the pride of individual freedom and the chains of socialism. That in the face of adversity, Republicans have the conviction of Churchill, not the capitulation and appeasement mentality of Chamberlain.
Lastly I’d like to close by saying we need to act like a team. We need to keep our party differences within the party, not air them in the media. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, our party leadership and our candidates and fight like hell for what we believe.
Whether it be soldiers on the battlefield or gladiators on the gridiron, if we act like a team and play like a team, we’ll win like a team.
Frank Antenori is a retired Special Forces Soldier and veteran of Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. He is also a former candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in Congressional District Eight.