The Evolution of an American Patriot – From the Battlefield to Capitol Hill to Policy DevelopmentCommentary by Allen B. West
December 14, 2014
I have been granted a rare opportunity to embark on a new endeavor as CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a national think tank headquartered in Dallas. After serving my country for 22 years of honorable active duty service in a military career and a term in US House of Representatives, I now have a new mission: leading one of America’s premier public policy research centers into its fourth decade. Our objective is to create the preeminent free-market, public policy group in America.
My years in and following elected office have brought me to a deeply held conviction: If our country is to grow economically, provide new opportunities and secure the promise of the American dream, it will be policy, not politics that guides us.
Policy should be based on sound fundamentals — proven principles espoused by men and women unconcerned about winning elections — unlike politicians who tell the electorate whatever they need to in order to promote themselves and their ambitions. Good policy means you tell the truth regardless of how painful it may be.
This position with the NCPA will afford me the opportunity to impact the development of policy positions that will advance economic growth, individual opportunity and restore the promise of America for current and future generations.
“Growth” means our economic practices and policies – free market, not Keynesian principles. “Opportunity” includes those policies that promote “equality of opportunity” versus “equality of outcomes,” and that starts with a good quality education. Having grown up in the inner city of Atlanta, this is a priority for me personally. We should not have our children trapped in failing schools because special interest unions and lobby groups buy political influence. “Promise” refers to securing the American dream that – regardless of where you are born or where you come from – you have the individual right to the “pursuit of happiness.” The NCPA will advocate for policies enabling that pursuit, not policies or politics that promote the false concept of a government “guarantee of happiness.”
We want to align ourselves with the fundamental principles of governance of America as a Constitutional Republic; to advancing the principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual sovereignty, a free market/free enterprise economy and a strong national defense. As we examine the policies that are synchronized with this governing philosophy and these principles, we become focused not on party but rather on effective and efficient governing policy – and we must be able to simply articulate that in the public sphere.
The NCPA’s current policy research focuses on taxes, retirement, health care, energy, education and environmental issues. As we further develop the NCPA as a policy center and nexus for sound, private sector policy solutions, the objective is to expand the focus to the three legs of security – economic, energy and national defense.
Economic security includes tax, regulatory, government spending and monetary reforms that advance the free market economic system. The primary goal is to return America to fiscal policies that create a positive environment for investment, innovation and ingenuity that stimulates economic growth reflected in a strong and robust GDP percent. In this leg we also must continue to address the issues of health care reform and health care spending, which now encompasses one-sixth of our economy. It is critical that we never lose sight of free market ideals and solutions over those that are government-driven, where our economy is now drifting. We must preserve an economic environment where small business can thrive and entrepreneurship is encouraged without the excessive printing of money and dangerously low interest rates. As we reform our tax code we must examine our federal budgetary process, determining how we can move away from the baseline process toward a zero-based budget and prioritize appropriations. We must slow down the debt clock and identify sound solutions for the mandatory spending side of our budget that free future generations of obligations for today’s deficits.
Energy security is just as vital. We should be producing, consuming, and exporting our energy resources here in America. Part of the 21stcentury policy battlefield is energy resources – just look at how Vladimir Putin leverages it against Europe. The NCPA can be a leader in analyzing the full spectrum development of our energy resources – an energy Manhattan Project. This leg promotes our economic growth, offering better opportunities for Americans as we have seen emanating from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota – as well as right there in West Texas and the Permian basin.
National security is the number one responsibility of the federal government. Without providing for the common defense, little else can be accomplished. The NCPA can objectively look at what kind of 21st century U.S. military force will be required to meet the challenges posed by forces without a country but with a solitary, adversarial agenda – the non-state, non-uniformed belligerents. America must also possess a security policy strategy that remains focused on the traditional nation-state adversaries. Defense policy has to return to the premise of "peace through strength," but it must be done on a fiscally responsible basis. We can no longer afford the belief that our military is the bill payer for fiscal irresponsibility. National security policy is not budget based, but rather threat based. NCPA will assess how we focus on the warfighter, their families and our Veterans, – not the expansive growth of the defense bureaucracy or elongated defense systems development.
The NCPA will be America's Think Tank, a repository of information for each American citizen to find reasoned, principled analysis. We want our message to reach the kitchen tables of the everyday American – the middle-income family. Notice I stress “income” and not class because here in America, with a free market system, no one is relegated to a class or caste. That is what the promise of the “pursuit of happiness” provides, the indomitable American entrepreneurial spirit. The seminal aim of our policy development and analysis is to ensure that Americans do truly “build that” in an environment free of crony capitalism and a bureaucratic regulatory state that hinders growth. We want to hear back from the American people, to garner their input and also their ideas. They are the ultimate shareholders of this grand experiment in liberty, freedom, and democracy. Most of all, I look forward to expanding our base of volunteers at the NCPA, becoming an active member in the Dallas-Fort Worth community, and expanding our youth programs to set the stage for the development of our future statesmen and women.
No more political gimmickry, or trite, poll-tested and marketed sound bites that reduce the American electorate into following the shiny object. We must return to sound, principled policy based upon our Constitutional Republic philosophy of governance, fundamental principles and proven policies for success, prosperity and security. It is not about seeking or attaining political office for myself. It is about being a servant – a Guardian of the Republic – enabling a better engaged and informed electorate and advancing policies that enable us to pass on an exceptional America to our subsequent generations – that is the essence of our genetic code. It is about the oath of office that I took many years ago "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same." It is an oath my dad took and deployed to World War II. It is an oath my older brother took and deployed in the Vietnam War. It is an oath that my young nephew took and has two combat deployments to Afghanistan under his belt. It is an oath that has no statute of limitations and that I will never apologize for defending strongly – especially since I have seen what it means to give the “last full measure of devotion” to this Republic.
The National Center for Policy Analysis has so blessed me to be a voice that can have an impact on the future of my country and folks -- it just does not get any better than that! Because that, Ladies and Gents, is why America is great. Your beginning station in life does not determine your end station of achievement. It comes down to a quote oft attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” My intent as CEO of the NCPA will be to live up to Franklin’s challenge to keep this Republic, and to support policies that protect the American right to pursue happiness.