A New Fight: Lt. Col. Allen West Pursues a House Seat
AAL: No doubt you'll get lots of support.
West: And if in two years, West turns out to, you know, suck, then get me out of there. I am [a] guy [who] would understand that. That's what I tell folks. You are sending me up there to prove myself as a capable legislator, statesman, and political leader. If I fail and let you down ... just don't support me. Just vote me out. That is what we have to do.
AAL: You've spoken about the love your parents instilled in you for God, country, and self-sufficiency. What are those principles, and why do you hold them so high?
West: It is important to honor our Judeo-Christian faith tradition -- and notice I said faith tradition, I did not say state-sponsored religion. People get very confused about that. You can go back to the founding fathers and see that connection. I have faith and believe in something greater than myself. It comes back around to understanding this great country and service to something greater than yourself. My dad served in WWII. My mother did 25 years of civilian service with the Marine Corps. My older brother served in Vietnam, and now my young nephew is a U.S. Army Captain, following in my footsteps. I think that's very important. It's about giving back, about a great country affording you the opportunities to get out and, as the Army once said, be all you can be. It's about your own internal individual responsibility and accountability, your own internal drive and desire ... to be part of what and who we are in this country. That's why people come to America. They see the opportunities here.
It's just a shame that government creates victims, and victims become dependent. Government continues to grow because of this dependent entitlement class. That's not what my parents raised me to believe. Never see anything as an obstacle. Never look at the color of my skin as a crutch. Always know the standards. Understand them. Work not just to achieve them, but to exceed the standards. Those are driving factors in my life, which I learned from parents who taught me faith, love of country, individual responsibility, and accountability.
AAL: Your parents died young.
West: My dad was 66 when he passed from a massive stroke. My mother was 63 when she died of liver cancer. I miss them very much, but each and every day that I go forth, I carry them with me.
AAL: Why was your father, Herman West Sr. from Ozark, Alabama, called "Buck"?
West: Well, it was the strength he exuded. As I said at CPAC, the most important thing was how I ended up on that stage to speak. It traced right back to their dreams, my father, my mother, what they wanted me to be in life.
AAL: I think [your parents] Buck and Elizabeth West would be very proud of you if they were here today.
West: Well, thank you.
AAL: Parenting definitely is important.
West: It is, and one of the problems you have in America is the breakdown of family, especially in the black community. Even Daniel Patrick Moynihan talked about how a lot of these liberal social welfare programs, if you started to pull the man out of the house and to break down the family in the black community, it is not going to be a positive thing. And we see that. In the black community now, you only have 30% to 35% of children being raised in two parent households. That's appalling.
AAL: Well, yes. And I do not think it's just in the black community, either. It is all over the place.
West: Yes, it has expanded. It really targeted the inner-city black community and now it has expanded. And you cannot have a strong country without strong families. We do not want to see America be reflected in Detroit, Michigan, or even in California.
West: Yeah, absolutely. I visited their website. He did an interview with South Florida's WFTL talk show host Joyce Kaufman and I had an opportunity to listen. I think it is a good citizen-based initiative. So I applaud Mr. Cox.
But you already have that system built in. Americans have never really understood, never really participated in this process, and never sat down and evaluated candidates and scrutinized them one-on-one. Not like we are starting to see now.
The great thing is the founding fathers set up our system with powers in the House of Representatives to make them the most powerful branch. So every two years, you get to do something about it. It's just a matter of Americans educating themselves about the Constitution and understanding you can change this legislative body every two years. Come out and hold people's feet to the fire.
Will the American people follow through on what they're saying? Will their respective grassroots organizations follow through? I think when you talk about constitutional fundamentals and principles that make this country great, Americans will rally, and come to support you.
AAL: In current politics, have you read the revised House health care measure? What are your key concerns?
West: I have not read the entire revised measure. I've looked at certain pieces. The biggest thing: this is not about focusing on the health care problem in America. And we do have a problem. That is with lowering the costs. If you look at the system that makes costs too high, it drives you to some specific solutions to fix the problem. It's not about creating 110 more government agencies. It's not about expanding government health care supervision, or trying to take over one-sixth of our gross national production.
This directly affects us in Florida. It's about catastrophic litigation. Doctors charge more because they are afraid, so tort reform is a first start. It's about state insurance agencies and commissions, state by state, that have created monopolies all over the place. The one thing that drives down costs in a free market society is competition.
And it's not about introducing government into this aspect of competition. Government can run itself in the red [at a loss]. If it wants to produce more capital, government just prints money or borrows money or raises taxes. That would be unfair competition.
It's about putting Americans in charge of their choices. Now, the insurance companies cannot go jacking up rates because you'd have another company to buy insurance from. That is the great thing about our system. If people see the need, they'll come into this market and meet the needs of consumers and American citizens [and profit].
Another thing no one talks about is the effect of illegal immigration on health care costs. Down in Miami-Dade, we have Jackson Memorial about to go under because of the rising [costs and expenses] from illegal immigrants. North of us in Martin County you see the same thing.
Health savings accounts are something that no one talks about. Everyone keeps throwing around [numbers]: 30 million, 45 million, 47 million [without insurance]. But it's really a targeted group of maybe 9 to 10 million citizens that need affordable health insurance. Give them the tax credit.
We have got to transfer the wealth from Washington, D.C., back down to the people so they can take care of their [own] lives and their lifestyles. It's a lie that increasing taxes increases revenues. At this time, I do not think we need to be creating programs to raise taxes on the American people.