But that's where Eric Greitens won't man-up.
Oh, he's more than happy to come out and identify as being a Conservative Republican, but will he reveal what his reasons for that massive change of heart were? Nope. Will he reveal when that transformation occurred? Nope. He simply expects us all to accept that he identifies that way.
Unfortunately, he doesn't have such a great history of having his words match up with actual facts.
For instance, he repeatedly declares "I'm not a politician - I'm an outsider!", and we're to take his word that he doesn't identify that way, but... tell me, how many non-politicians do you know who register a presidential campaign website in their names? And that was 8 years ago. Personally, when a person first begins to seriously consider a future political, to my mind, that's when he became an actual politician. What do you think?
And when one of the original Tea Party video bloggers, my friend Adam Sharp, tried to ask Eric Greitens what his reasons were for becoming a conservative, his staff blocked and shoved Adam aside for daring to ask Mr. Non-Politician questions about his positions - apparently he thinks that info is just a bit too personal for people in the Show Me state to be shown.
When Greitens first announced his intention to run for Missouri Governor, there were many rumors about his past Democrat leanings, but some, like Bill Hennessy, chose to get carried away in the wonder of his personal greatness, as others like myself were somewhat intrigued but still asking "What's so good about Great?"
"...With all the 'Great' candidates we have running for high office around the nation today, we seem to be forgetting an important rule for a self governing people:Bill Hennessey didn't appreciate such questioning of his 'transformational leader' and tried to write off such concerns about Greitens' conserva-cred as 'dirty tricks!' and 'whisper campaigns!'. So sure (on what basis?) that the rumors weren't true, he made the unfortunate statement about those less sold on him than he was, that:
'Greatness' doesn't make you fit for office; demonstrating an understanding of the nature and purpose of the office you're seeking to be elected to, does.To advance someone for high office because of their great qualities alone, and in spite of knowing little or nothing about how well, if at all, they understand the purpose of, and the restraints upon the power of, that office which they are campaigning for, and without knowing how they intend to use its power, is dangerous to everyone that that elected office has power over. ..."
"...If none of that works, they’ll just lie and claim he’s a Democrat."Sadly for Bill, the concerns which many were having about Greitens, were not only worth whispering about, but even worth raising voices over, because, as it turned out, Greitens soon after disclosed that he was, in fact, until very recently (how recently, he won't say), a Democrat!
Eric Greitens: Why I am no longer a Democrat: "...I was raised as a Democrat....I registered to vote as a Democrat, and several years ago some Democrats even tried to recruit me to run for Congress..."
Hey Show Me State! What kind of leader do you think it is, that knowingly lets his supporters stick their necks out for him while knowing that they'll be sandbagged after a month or more of their denying what he knows to be true?. IMHO, Eric Greitens should have begun his campaign with that revelation right out of the box, and that looks to me like poor leadership on Greitens part, and extremely poor judgment on Bill's part, who's unfortunately developed a habit of putting his trust/mistrust with the wrong political operatives.
Greitens was not only a Democrat, and had been in discussions about running for office as a democrat, and supported democrats for office, went to the DNC Nomination of Obama, supported his Education plans, has supported the UN and using the United States Military for world Social Programs, radical transformative NGO's, and The Franklin Institutes "A 21st Century National Service System" for our youth... and then... all of a sudden... for some unknown reasons, he had a change of heart. When? We don't know.
But we should accept that he now identifies as a Conservative Republican? Seriously?
1 year later: What's changed?
Do we have anything more than Eric Greiten's word for being a 'conservative', than he let on a year ago? No. We don't. Not directly from him, at any rate. The sum total of Eric Greitens "I Believe" positions provided for Missourians to make up their minds about his actual political identify, by MS Word's count, is 789 words. Mr. Articulate book writing transformational leader, has managed to put fewer than 800 words together to help the voters of Missouri to make up their minds about electing him to the highest position of power in the state.
I think that sums up his style of 'leadership, his respect for the voter, and just how much more 'politics as usual' we might have in store for us, if he were to be elected.
Peter Kinder, on his "Statements" page alone, has 1,844, three times that. John Brunner's "Issues" page has 1,663 words. Catherine Hanaway packs in 3,612 words and action plans on her "Issues" page. But more than that, both Kinder, Hanaway and Brunner, especially Kinder, have years and years of statements, actions, and measurable performance that match their words to their actions and histories.
Greitens? He simply 'identifies' as 'conservative'. IMHO simply 'identifying' as being one thing or another, is not going to work any better in our Governor's office, than it does in Target changing-rooms.
It seems to me that the reasonable questions that should be pursued now, still, a year later, are how grounded and credible are Eric Greitens' claims to actually being a conservative Republican? Ironically, the only material we have to make that judgment from, is that same article that Greitens wrote to announce that he actually had, until recently (how recently he doesn't say), been a Democrat. And for me at least, his admission and conversion, although welcome, does very little to assure me of what his political principles are.
Recapping Greitens Identity
So with that being said, with nothing new about his personal ideas and thoughts on why he became a conservative, lets look again at the one definitive statement he has made about his beliefs, and I'll explain why it is that I personally find it to be far less than satisfying for me, as to what his Identity actually is.
"I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way. "While his article could lay a credible claim to his being a Republican, he didn't stop with claiming to be a Republican only, he claims to be a Conservative Republican, and that qualifier 'conservative' requires a bit more information from him than simply having announced that he'd joined the GOP. After all - Lindsay Graham is a Republican too, but you're not going to find a whole lot of Conservatives or Tea Party members that are going to be too impressed by that, right? To make a credible claim as to being a Conservative, he needs to show a solid level of understanding of the principles behind the constitution (U.S. and MO), as well as a regard for, and commitment to, the U.S. Constitution itself. What has he said to place himself squarely on the Conservative and Tea Party Right, as opposed to being in the middle of the road, or even over there on the side of the road with the RINOs?
The only way to find out, is to begin taking a look at what he himself has said:
"I am a conservative Republican, but I didn’t start out that way.Which is all very welcome, well and good. I personally have no problem in welcoming someone who's realized their political errors and corrected them, or with believing in the depth of their conversion, but I do need to see evidence of their understanding the principles they claim to have converted to.
I was raised as a Democrat. I was taught that Harry Truman was the greatest president ever because he was strong, stood up to the communists, and most important, he was from Missouri. I was taught to stand up for the little guy, and that bigger government was the best way to do that. I registered to vote as a Democrat, and several years ago some Democrats even tried to recruit me to run for Congress.
There was one rather large problem. As I got older, I no longer believed in their ideas. Even worse, I had concluded that liberals aren’t just wrong. All too often they are world-class hypocrites. They talk a great game about helping the most vulnerable, with ideas that feel good and fashionable. The problem is their ideas don’t work, and often hurt the exact people they claim to help."
Some obvious examples of others who have given ample evidence of just that sort of thing, would be Ronald Reagan, who didn't just switch parties because one 'worked better' than the other, he solidly expressed his grasp of the principles which separated the philosophies of the Left from the Right, in his Goldwater announcement speech, "A Time for Choosing", and he spent years acting consistently with his words. David Horowitz is another excellent that comes to mind, as someone who was once a deeply entrenched and radical leftist, and he not only switched parties, but has gone to great lengths demonstrating very effectively his understanding of why leftist ideas are faulty and corrupt. A little closer to home in time and place would be Dana Loesch, who began as a democrat operative but soon realized her error, left the Left, and has since demonstrated very well, through actions with the Tea Party, on radio, TV and in print, her solid understanding of, and commitment to, the principles which our Individual Rights rest upon and require.
But being as I'm not, as Bill put it, 'lazy' enough to accept someone's assertions alone, I need evidence that such a person didn't simply change party affiliations to find a snazzier party. And I feel zero guilt whatsoever in having questions about their status, especially when I see that the reasons which they've given for their conversion, are far short of being deep enough reasons to explain the error they claim to have corrected.
For instance, it's good that he realized that the leftist approach was hypocritical, that it hurt those it claimed to want to help and simply didn't work. But while that may be enough to explain his becoming a Republican, it isn't enough to assure people, especially me, that he now has a conservative understanding and approach to political issues. After all, again, Lindsay Graham will tell you the very same thing about the democrats and their policies, but you'd have an easier time selling space heaters in hell, than convincing conservatives that Lindsay Graham was one of them.
So what else has Mr. Greitens given us to go on? What deeds or reasoned insights, rather than simply assertions and labels, has he given us? After reciting a valid list of leftist policies that don't work, he says:
"I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear. "The first sentence, especially it's ending, reminds me of earlier statements of 'smarter', kinder, gentler, government social programs, which is a big red flag to me, of a republican not being a Tea Party compatible, Free Market Conservative, dedicated to upholding Individual Rights through the Rule of Law under constitutionally limited government.
I don't think very much of the 'compassionate conservative' shtick. I found it appallingly bad when William F. Buckley Jr. pushed it back in the 1990's (we'll go into detail why in later posts), it was the reason why I didn't vote for George W. Bush in the 2000 primary, and I think it pretty much wore its welcome out with the rest of the nation with W's administration. Demonstrating that you understand the principles that conservatism is derived from requires much more than delivering 'results' and telling people what you think they need to hear, we need to hear you demonstrate a desire for the kind of results that are consistent with conservatism, worthwhile and proper to achieve. So far, I haven't seen that.
"So what would I do? I believe in limited but effective government."I'm sorry, but that 'but' makes his But look really big to me. When he says 'but effective', he's saying that as a qualifier on 'limited government', which makes it seem to me that his goal is less about ensuring that government remains properly 'limited', than about making its ability to deliver 'results' more efficiently, to be more important than its being limited. Believing in limited government is highly desirable, but Why should it be limited? I'm not seeing any indication from him as to why government should be limited, and that, for me, has to come before anything else. His words indicate to me that he thinks that there are lots of limitations to those limits on government, especially if they might deliver 'effective government'. That sends a shudder down my spine.
"I believe in replacing ObamaCare with something that actually works."I most emphatically do not. I do not believe that ObamaCare is bad because Obama and the Democrats proposed it, but because govt CANNOT provide any solutions that will not impair the quality and liberty of everyone involved in the area of health care, and so any GovtCare is doomed to failure, and as such we should not attempt to 'fix' it, or replace it, but to remove it. I don't want to replace the devil I know with one I don't know, I want to exorcise the damn thing, bell, book and candle! I believe in repealing ObamaCare, as well as repealing all the other operational healthcare and insurance industry regulations/corporate favors, and I believe in exterminating every other interference into the free market. That means eliminating all intrusive government 'solutions' that prevent people from making intelligent decisions and acting on them for their own reasons. Only by doing that, can a Free Market, which gave us modern health in the first place, be restored.
I'm unable and emphatically unwilling to see anything less than that as a 'conservative' solution, though I've no doubt you could get Lindsay Graham to go along with it.
"I believe in putting working families and job creation ahead of special interests."That sounds, at best, like re-calibrating your spin cycle so as to swap one set of special interests for another, for political gain. Switching special big biz interests, for special little guy interests, ultimately means retaining one set of special interests to be doled out as privileges to some, at everyone else's expense. If you are a Free Market Conservative, dedicated to Individual Rights and the Rule of Law, then you will not seek or accept the swapping of one form of favoritism for another, but will instead desire to eliminate all such special privileges so that all are equal before the law. That would be acceptable. Anything less, and you might as well go talk to Lindsay Graham - I'm sure he's ready to listen.
"I believe that in a free society we have to defend religious liberties and the 2nd Amendment, and protect innocent life, so everyone has the freedom to pursue happiness."This isn't too bad... but I'd be more comfortable hearing something like "Liberty requires that everyone's individual rights be respected, and those rights that are singled out in our Bill of Rights must be held like daggers in the faces of those who'd like to use power to help and improve our lives for us.", anything less, is... less.
"I believe in reforming welfare, so every person can have a chance at a life of dignity, purpose, and meaning."I do not. I believe in eliminating it. Only then, can every person have a chance at living their own lives.
"And I believe America’s public schools should be the best in the world."Yeah, well, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Bill Gates, Barrack Obama and Lindsay Graham all say the same things as well, but if you mean to use the centralized powers of the state or federal governments to accomplish that, then you will be saying nothing different than they would, which is nothing that I'd agree with or be willing to go along with.
"As Americans, we deserve much better than what we’re getting from our government. We don’t need more rhetoric. We want results."Which of course is just more rhetoric. I don't want better results from our government, I want less of my government in my life so that I can get the results I deserve. As an American, I deserve to have my govt respect my right to live my own life, and anything more than that is, IMHO, significantly less.
"And that means changing politics as usual, which won’t be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is. You have to fight for what you believe in, and I, for one, have never backed down from that kind of fight."There are few things that sound more to me like politics as usual, than a politician saying 'that means changing politics as usual'; it's an easy thing to say, and it's a meaningless thing to say. Tell me something more meaningful, apply it to something more difficult, explain your principles and how you'd apply them to particular issues facing our state. Anything less than that is nothing more than politics as usual.
I've read his book "Heart and Fist", Eric Greitens has an impressive, record, and I wish that I could believe that he was on our side, but I see no reason to believe that that is the case. I've seen no effort on his part to demonstrate the depth of his principled understanding of what our side is. I've seen no credible assurances or answers from the candidate himself - and he is a writer! - that gives me reason to believe that the political principles that will drive his use of power in office, will be ones that'd make me comfortable with entrusting him with the power of that office.
Still, a year later and now nearly at the Primary, his comments have been shallow, trite, directed towards vague issues and gimmicks, with no substance to enable us to recognize what his principles are, and I'm not yet convinced that he even understands what our side is, let alone how to lead or fight for it.
The only effort he's made to connect with voters, where he might have been able to communicate how he will make political decisions, have been those Gubernatorial Debates he showed up for, and of course his great Missouri Listening Tour. I don't want to have a candidate listening to me when they're running for office - the only sound they need to hear from me would be my support or my vote - and the only way he's going to get that is by telling me what his ideas and beliefs and principles are, so that I can make up my mind about whether or not I want to entrust him with my vote. A candidate needs to speak, debate, publish and otherwise let We The People know what it is that he thinks, feels and is driven by. That's how you show the Show Me state that you're worthy to hold power as Governor of our state.
When I hear of his support for NGO's, his words that express little more than shallow associations with politically easy 'hot button' issues, I'm not learning anything about the political principles that he, particularly in a moment of crisis, or with a simply tough and unpopular decision, is going to be guided by in making his decision.
I know what he's thought to be right in the recent past, and that included supporting:
"President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, allocating almost $6 billion to new and existing service programs. Eric Greitens, a University of Missouri public affairs expert, says the bill is a call to service for all Americans.", which means that I don't know what he thinks Right is, but I've got a lot of clues about the far left positions that he very recently supported as being right!
That's a problem for me, and to secure my vote I require his explanations, and demonstrations, of understanding those issues, and NOT simply the assurances of a flak who thinks he can peddle PR messages in lieu of a glaring lack of substance.
I have a huge problem with his entering this race without bothering to begin from the beginning. He, as a candidate, has a responsibility to demonstrate his having at least a fundamental understanding of the nature and purpose of the office he's seeking to be elected to, and of what he will bring to that. It didn't need to be a detailed set of position papers (though that wouldn't hurt), but just some general statements of principle and intent; but for him to enter the race without even a general formulation of that, particularly with his knowing how his own political history would unavoidably raise questions and concerns amongst those he's aiming to have as supporters, is, to me, a major lapse of judgment. The failure to do that would almost certainly leave those who would support him, who would be inspired by him, in the position of having to substitute their own personal sense of inspiration for his 'great qualities', for that relevant substance which he failed to provide, to carry them through any attempts at supporting and defending him.
That, to me, is an egregious failure of leadership on a philosophical and political level, and it was a failure of leadership on a personal level, to put his potential supporters in such a position on his behalf, over basic info that should have been a no-brainer to provide. Without that substance and proof from him, in his own words, and his visible ability to defend them, there is in terms of his political judgment, nothing there for me to support, only 'inspired substitute substance' that is worth less than the HTML it's written on.
In short: Eric Greitens 'identifies' as a 'conservative', in much the same way that this fellow 'identified' as a women in Target's changing room. To my fellow residents of the Show Me state: Demand something more of the candidate you vote for, than their having simply 'identified' as a Conservative - demand proof - Show Me.