Victor Davis Hanson is one of America’s most brilliant public intellectuals. However, in his recent articles on veterans of the Long War running for Congress (http://article.nationalreview.com/433510/soldier-citizens-for-congress/victor-davis-hanson; http://www.nypost.com/p/news/o… he misses the mark in my opinion.
It is Hanson’s opinion that veteran-candidates like retired Army Colonel Chris Gibson run saying, “Vote me for because I did my duty, even if some in this country questioned why one would.” Instead, it seems that people like Chris Gibson run because of what they saw while they did that duty.
Chris Gibson, running for Congress against Rep. Murphy in the New York 20th Congressional District, is a 1986 Magna cum Laude graduate of Siena College, commissioned in the Infantry Branch of the United States Army. Unlike officers commissioned even a few years before, the Cold War was over early in his career. (Although he had served earlier as an enlisted Infantryman, it was in the Army National Guard, in a time when it seldom deployed.) The central question of his military career was not the confrontation between East and West, between Communism and Freedom, but rather was how to deal with the aftermath of that confrontation.
Chris Gibson’s military career, especially beginning with the 1990-’91 Gulf War, was spent dealing with what some have called “the New World Disorder.” With the threat of Armageddon off the table, regional wars became possible and then common. Out of these facts came Gibson’s three subsequent tours in Iraq and his deployment to Bosnia. But in a larger sense, this “New Word Disorder” is rooted in the failure of elephantine, bloated, centralized government structures that were implacably hostile to free markets, free pulpits and free men. The same forces that caused these nations to lose the Cold War often prevented them from liberalizing their economies and improving the lot of their people, leading to conflict.
So when Chris Gibson speaks of the importance of small business, of free markets, or low taxes and limited government, he does so not as a small business man (or a lawyer or accountant who advises them), but rather as a man who lead Soldiers into harm’s way in nations (former Communist Bosnia and former-Baathist Iraq) that had failed because they lacked these things.
Some have attacked Gibson for his lack of private sector experience, but that disregards the fact that he has vast experience helping to re-build places that lacked a private sector and, therefore, collapsed. While some have attacked what he says as merely Republican orthodoxy, that disregards the fact that low taxes, limited government and free market solutions work, and other ideas, as he saw while serving in Bosnia and Iraq, don’t. What is orthodoxy is often synonymous with that which is workable.
Chris Gibson is certainly not a career politician. (Career politicians don’t offer, do they Jack McEneny, to waive their other government pensions if elected, for example.) However, he has seen the political process in the streets of Iraq. His generation of Army and Marine Corps leaders learned the hard way how to reach out to hostile people and forge consensus. He is part of an American Military that itself learned that the centralized, bureaucratic, one size-fits-all approach of the Cold War did not fit the paradigm of the New World Disorder, what the Marine Corps calls “The Strategic Corporal in the Three Block War (http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmc/strategic_corporal.htm).”
Chris Gibson was a great Soldier: Airborne Ranger; Distinguished Honor Graduate of his Command & General Staff College Class (like Marshall and Eisenhower before him); wounded in combat; recipient of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and four Bronze Stars; and the commander of a Parachute Infantry Battalion and Parachute Infantry Brigade in the storied 82d Airborne Division. He is the sort of leader who often receives encouraging notes from his former Soldiers on his campaign web-site, something any former Soldier or Marine will note is uncommon and powerful. But he is also a product of an Army that is attempting to broaden the horizons of its leaders. He received an MA, MPA and PhD. from Cornell and taught government to brilliant cadets at the United States Military Academy. He served two tours as a Congressional Liaison (like John McCain before him). He served as a Fellow at the Hoover Institution. In short, far outside of his combat service, his is a far more varied and significant resume than the incumbent’s.
So it comes to this: who will the 20th Congressional District choose to represent them? Will they choose a former venture capitalist, who voted for a health care bill his constituents opposed (and about which he was clearly troubled) because he could not stand up to his Party? Or will we chose a man who spent his professional career cleaning up the messes created by the kind of social engineering and bureaucratic centralization the “Health Care Reform Bill” represents?
As I write this, Greece, the cradle of Democracy, burns because the people came to expect too much from their government. Will we chose that road? I think not. In closing, I remind you of what Oliver Cromwell said:
If you choose godly honest men to be captains of horse, honest men will follow them . . . .
Choose this honest man, Chris Gibson, to represent the District.