Thursday, February 24, 2011

In Politics, As In Life, Sometimes “No” Means “No”

If a woman says “no” to the unwanted advances of a man, we hear that “no means no”. If that same man continues to badger the woman, after she says “no”, he is understood to be guilty of harassment.

When people badger a person to become a presidential candidate, to put their life on hold, travel the nation campaigning, open their life to the media and virtually unlimited scrutiny and of course expose themselves and their family to vicious attacks- even after that proposed candidate has eloquently articulated why they don’t feel they should run- what is that? Is it harassment?

Is it reasonable for well-meaning grassroots activists that would like a particular person to run for office to not accept “no” for an answer? Is there some obligation for a person to answer the call to run for office?

Allen West is a decorated, retired Army Lt. Colonel who served his nation in combat, with honor and distinction for more than twenty years- earning a Bronze Star, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals and a Valorous Unit Award. He then served as an advisor to the Afghan Army for three years.

After serving his nation, in the military and honoring his oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution from enemies, foreign and domestic, he returned home and ran for Congress (unsuccessfully) in the 2008 election cycle. Having garnered a very respectable percentage of the vote and building a solid and loyal following, Lt. Colonel West made the decision to run for Florida’s 22nd Congressional Seat again in the 2010 election cycle. He unselfishly put his life on hold and his reputation on the line- suffering brutal personal attacks on a daily basis- because he felt that his nation needed him again.

Lt. Colonel Allen West was victorious on November 2nd, 2010 and was sworn in as Congressman Allen West on January 5th, 2011. He has now been in office for less than 2 months.

Running for Congress is itself a full-time job. A candidate eats, drinks and breathes his/her campaign. They are on the road for many long hours. And yet, compared to running for President of the United States, running for the U.S. House of Representatives is a cakewalk.

In order to run for President, a candidate must travel to all 50-states (57 if they’re Barack Obama) as well as some of the U.S. territories. They must do countless media and public appearances, endure relentless scrutiny and be away from their home and family- for weeks and months at a time. It is a 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week, 365 day-a-year commitment, that one should only embark upon if they are totally, 100% resolute to it.

Frankly, considering what a thankless job it is and the scrutiny that modern presidential candidates face, it is a wonder that any qualified person would even contemplate attempting to run for President of the United States.

Congressman West has said that he is “humbled” by those that think he would make a good president. But when asked directly if he was thinking at all of running for President or Vice-President in 2012, he answered just as directly, “Well of course not”. He went on to articulate why he would not run in 2012, without ruling out a run at some future date, by saying “It’s so important that we as conservatives avoid the cult of personality style of leadership. But we really do elevate people based upon merit and talent. And, you know, I have to prove myself as an American statesman, as a political leader, and not just someone that is able to, you know give some good speeches. I have to be able to get up there and create legislation and get legislation pushed through and make myself a game changer on the House floor.”

Rather than accepting the straight-talking West at his word, many have chosen to say that if enough people call upon him to serve his nation again- on their schedule- he will answer that call.

Allen West is undoubtedly an American patriot. With enough pressure applied and enough repeated requests for him to run, it is remotely possible that he may choose to run. But the question is do we want him to run, not because he thinks he’s ready, or because he believes himself to be the most qualified candidate, but because he feels he has some obligation to give in and to answer the call of the people? To put it another way, is it right to draft a man who has already served his nation voluntarily?

This writer knows Allen West and has only the greatest respect and highest regard for both him and his service to our nation. And because of that admiration and esteem must question whether it is selfish for the people that continue to push for Congressman West to run for President at a time that is not of his choosing.

There is no question that conservative-Republicans are eager, even desperate, for a proven leader to step up and assume the role of the 2012 GOP nominee for President of the United States. But we shouldn’t let that desperation lead us to harass a reluctant patriot to run for an office he has said repeatedly he does not wish to seek at this time.

In politics, as in life, sometimes “no” means “no”.

Steven Rosenblum is the host of ‘Conservative Republican Forum’- on BlogTalkRadio and a 2010 GOP Florida State House Candidate.