Pearls & Vodka

I hope my son becomes a maverick like John McCain, not a buffoon like Steve Bannon…

How about a quick history lesson this fine, Monday morning?

Nearly 80 years ago, Franklin D. Roosevelt was President and his own party controlled both houses of Congress; but elements of his “New Deal” were stalled. He had grown exasperated by his fellow Democrats that he viewed were standing in the way of his agenda. [1]

Sound familiar?

Roosevelt resolved in the summer of 1938 to push some of his fellow Democrats out of office to help move his agenda along. [1]
Former Chief Strategist to President Trump, Steve Bannon declared a “season of war” to push out problematic Republicans in midterm elections this past week while he was speaking to the California GOP. [1]

It might do Mr. Bannon some good to remember that Franklin Roosevelt failed in his mission to oust members of his own party. In fact, his plot had the reverse effect, and it stalled out his domestic program for the rest of his presidency. [1]

Steve Bannon has vowed to support challengers to all Senate Republicans in 2018, except Ted Cruz. And he has already had one victory, by backing Judge Roy Moore over an incumbent Republican senator in a special primary in Alabama to fill Jeff Sessions old seat. [1]

Just for full disclosure before I continue, I have very little respect for Steve Bannon. I do not like the man. I detest a lot of his ideologies. I rejoiced when he left the White House. And I will probably always struggle with supporting anyone he is backing.
Not only does Bannon feel the need to attack sitting Republicans, but he also feels embolden to disrespect former Republican leaders.

Leaders like George W. Bush.

Thursday night George W. Bush gave one of the best speeches I’ve heard lately. A speech that Bannon said, “It was clear he didn’t understand anything he was talking about.”

Really, Mr. Bannon?

“We become the heirs of Martin Luther King Jr. by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Bush said toward the end of his speech. “This means people of every race, ethnicity, and religion can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed. It means the very identity of our nation depends on the passing of civic ideals to the next generation.” [2]

I think it is pretty clear Steve what President Bush was talking about and what he meant. I don’t think you believe he didn’t understand what he was talking about. I think you struggle thinking anyone would disagree with you.

Bannon’s cry is to remove the “establishment” from power. But here’s a newsflash Steve Bannon, you don’t represent MY party. And you do not get to take ownership of it. You were not elected. You were not nominated. You were not voted in. Honestly, your words and your politics are about as repulsive as it comes to me.

Mr. Bannon name-dropped Senator John McCain in his speech to the California Republicans on Friday. His mentioning elicited boos and chants to “hang him.” My Dad always told me that California was full of “nuts and fruits” and I guess he was right, with the exception of my friend Stephanie G.

Here’s a newsflash for you Steve Bannon, you don’t deserve to speak the name, John McCain.

Mr. Bannon spent seven years serving on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific fleet during the late 70s and early 80s. After that, he was a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon. Bannon has said that a failed rescue attempt to liberate hostages in Tehran, during his service, has been a defining moment in his life. During his two deployments to sea and his time in the Pentagon dealing with budgets and planning, Steve Bannon never saw combat duty. [3]

I would never belittle any military member’s service to our nation. I find the men and women in uniform to be the best this nation has to offer. I am incredibly grateful for Former Lieutenant Bannon’s service to the United States of America. And for that, he will always have my respect, as every soldier will.

I’ve learned in my almost 35 years of life to find a way to respect all people, compartmentalizing their lives to disassociate the good they have done with the filth they exude. While I greatly respect Mr. Bannon’s service, I do not respect much else he has done. I’m sure he did some wonderful things at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker. And I know a lot of great journalists were a part of his Breitbart website.

All that being said, as a Republican, Steve Bannon does not, and will not ever, speak for me.

I’m sorry Mr. Bannon, but John McCain is not “just another senator from Arizona.” He’s an American hero. He’s done more in his 81 years than you will ever do in a lifetime. And he sacrificed more in his time of Naval service than most Americans will ever even be able to fathom.

And while this blog began with my disdain for Steve Bannon, I actually have another goal today.

I’ve been doing some research lately on “who’s up next.” The truth is a Party is only as good as its next generation. And there are some phenomenal people out there with interest in public service, and God-willing, there will be more, on both sides of the aisle.

Let me just throw this out there, some of these folks are new to the scene, and the whole story has yet to be seen. But they are worth taking a glance at, at least.

Michigan Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow, of Lansing, will be running for her third term in 2018. Quite a few names have already started piling up for her challenger, names like Kid Rock, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young, businesswoman Lena Epstein and Detroit businessman and Iraq war veteran, John James. Mr. James graduated from West Point in 2004 and went to Iraq in 2007. He was a Ranger-qualified officer who flew Apache helicopters and led two platoons for the Army. He is now the president of the James Group International where he has added 100 jobs since 2012 and grown annual revenues from $35 million to $137 million. Mr. James is the father of two young sons, and he feels that Senator Stabenow has presided over a growing federal deficit that could “bankrupt our children’s futures.” While Senator Stabenow has always been known as a great fundraiser, Mr. James believes that his “unapologetic Christian” voice is needed to represent the pro-life, pro-business and pro-Second Amendment Conservatives. [4]

The wave of candidates with military experience is strong this coming year. Jason Crow, an attorney, and former Army Ranger has decided to challenge Rep. Mike Coffman, who is a huge target for the Democratic Party. He said, “we’re not going to fix it (D.C.) by electing the same kind of people with the same way of thinking that we have had in the past.” In addition to Mr. Crow, in the San Diego area, Josh Butner, a former Navy Seal, is challenging Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R) who is a Marine himself. In central Virginia, a former Marine Roger Dean Huffstetler is running against Rep. Thomas Garrett (R). [5]

The Congressional Research Service released a profile on Congressional membership at the end of 2016. The average age of a United States Senator is 61. Y’all, let’s not forget the average age of retirement is 62. Granted, Senators seem to stick around a little longer in office than the corporate America employee. But still.

We have to be thinking what’s next, who’s next?

Meet your Congressional Democratic Leadership Team:
Nancy Pelosi, 77 years old. Steny Hoyer, 78 years old. James Clyburn, 77 years old. Joseph Crawley, 55 years old. [6]
And your Senatorial Democratic Leadership Team:
Chuck Schumer, 66 years old. Dick Durbin, 72 years old. Patty Murray, 67 years old. Debbie Stabenow, 67 years old. [7]
Meet your Congressional Republican Leadership Team:
Speaker Paul Ryan, 47 years old. Kevin McCarthy, 52 years old. Steve Scalise, 52 years old. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, 48 years old. Luke Messer, 48 years old. [6]
And your Senatorial Republican Leadership Team:
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 75 years old. John Cornyn, 65 years old. John Thune, 56 years old. Roy Blunt, 67 years old. [7]
Independent/Faux Democratic Leader:
Bernie Sanders, 76 years old. [7]
President of the United States of America:
President Donald J. Trump, 71 years old.

Here’s the thing, I have no problem at all with age in leadership. I think it’s smart to have the wisdom of folks who’ve been doing “this” for a while. But who, and what, are we preparing for the future. 10-20 years from now many of the names above will no longer be with us. And yes, I’m painfully aware that death gives no consideration to age, and we lose more and more young people every day.

But still, what political legacy are we building?

I think we would do well as a nation to remember, while men like Steve Bannon are throwing around such strong, hate narratives that a generation that is taught to hate the country and its establishments will refuse to defend it and serve it as well.

Let that sink in.

There are younger members of both houses of Congress who are working hard to establish themselves and represent their constituents. People like Tom Cotton, Elise Stefanik, Joseph P. Kennedy III, Will Hurd, Duncan Hunter, Brendan Boyle, Darren Soto are all under 40. [8] Senators Cory Booker and Marco Rubio are 48 and 46, respectively.

Hillary Clinton will be 73 during the next Presidential election. Joe Biden will be 78.

The fact of the matter is folks; we have to be looking for the next generation of leaders.

We need to be raising young boys and young girls who understand the importance of our democracy and our freedoms. We need to be raising children who have a grasp of our political processes, the three branches of government and what each party was actually founded on.

I am a Republican. I am socially-moderate and fiscally-conservative.

I am teaching my son to understand what both of those concepts mean. Sure, he’s young, and all he knows of politics right now is that his Aunt Hucky works in the White House and he loves to see her on TV. And right now, at 22 months old, that’s good enough for me. As he grows up, he will remember that his “Aunt” that loves him is a strong woman, who stood for what she believed in, in the face of constant attacks from the media and did so with grace and class. And he’ll hopefully learn what it means to play such a pivotal, historical role in politics. And maybe one day, he will grow up wanting to be like her and that would be A-OK by me.

And as he grows up, and continues to learn about our nation, we will teach him the stories of real superheroes, the men and women who volunteered to serve our nation in the United States military, not just the Marvel and DC comic book heroes he sees on the big screen. Our little boy will grow up understanding that men like Captain James Michael Steel, of Tampa, Florida, are heroes, not just Iron Man. Captain Steele was killed in Afghanistan in 2013 while flying an F-16. Men like Captain Steel are the REAL Captain Americas.

Our little boy will grow up understanding if we don’t vote our conscience, our beliefs can be overtaken. He will be taught that all men are created equal no matter their color, creed, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or cognitive ability. No one is lesser because of their disabilities, and no one is better because of their wealth. And America is STILL the “shining city on a hill” because we provide a safe-haven, a place for growth and opportunity and a place of freedom for all those who seek to live here peacefully and lawfully, all those who love democracy.

And my son will learn that men like Steve Bannon do not have to represent him, as long as he will speak and stand for what is right and what he believes.

I’m not sure any parent ever feels like they did an acceptable job raising their child, but I can assure you, I will rest easier knowing one day that I raised a child who leads and serves more like John McCain and George W. Bush than if he turns out like a Steve Bannon.

If we don’t raise the next generation of leaders, who will?


Photo by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash