On Wednesday, Col. Rob Maness USAF (Ret.) announced his bid to win the Senate seat in Louisiana that is to be vacated by current Republican Senator David Vitter. Sitting down with an exclusive interview with PolitiStick, the career military man who rose-up from the enlisted ranks to become a full colonel was careful to note that while he may have made a career in the military, he is far from a “career politician”- a label that has become an increasing liability in this election year dominated by freshman legislators and private-sector successes.
Indeed, as we chatted, Col. Maness spoke like a true defender of constitutional principles- not just as an oft-stated line, but as a way of life.
“I served to defend the Constitution of the United States when I was in the military,” Col. Maness stressed. “I risked my life for it. I commanded men and women in combat that took the same oath and we understand what it takes and what it means to do that and it doesn’t mean ignoring the law of our land,” he continued, referencing President Obama’s use of executive powers to effect unilaterally-created laws.
As one might expect, the former military man stressed a return of American might and strengthening our military to bolster our position on the world stage. Discussing his priorities, he cited,
“At the very top is America’s role as leader in the world. Its strength as a leader in the free world has been diminished in the past 8 to 15 years. Our military is weaker than it ever has been in my lifetime.
I served for 32 years; my dad served for 23 years and it’s weaker than I know of over both of our careers, which is over fifty years. So, we’ve got some work to do in that regard.”
The Louisianan also freely linked national security with border security, a stance shared by many conservatives.
“Our borders continue to remain unsecure. We have policies that are encouraging illegal aliens to cross our border, which is making us less-secure because let’s remember, border security is national security!” Maness noted. He further clarified in an unwavering resolve, “I will never support legalizing or giving citizenship to someone who has broken our laws to get to our country.”
The conversation concerning immigration morphed slowly to a discussion regarding ISIS and the “don’t worry about it” mantra of the Obama Administration who continually downplays the seriousness of the threat posed to Americans by radical Islamic jihadists.
“The jihadist attack in San Bernardino, California, is unfortunately proof that the president and his propaganda apparatus are flat-out not telling the truth; they’re lying to the American people that we’re safe and secure and we’re not.”
Maness stressed that the goal should be “to have an America so strong that it provides a certainty that our allies can count on us and that our enemies fear us. Because right now, under this America, our allies, they can’t trust us and our enemies don’t respect us and they’re killing our people and they’re killing Westerners and they’re killing the freedom-loving people of the world… this is an all-out war on [ISIS’] side and we better recognize it and be willing to call what it is and that is Islamic jihadist extremism. We need to identify it, find it, target it and kill it as rapidly as we possibly can.”
Eschewing labels of “conservative” or “Tea Party,” Maness reminded that in these days of hyper-partisanship, it’s important to elect true leaders dedicated to principles who will represent all who form his constituency.
“What we have to do is put people into office who are principled and the principles [elected officials] swear to follow are constitutional principles… A lot of folks don’t talk about liberty or protecting liberty, but really national security, border security, illegal immigration, the Islamic State, attacks on our citizens here at home, all of those things, we lose those if we don’t protect our liberties that we have- and I’m talking about the natural and God-given liberties like what is laid-out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.”
Maness claimed that we keep sending people to Washington who abandon these principles “when the chips are down.” “They take a knee when the going gets rough.”
Throughout our conversation, Col. Maness stressed that we need leaders in the Senate with a background in national security and a proven track record of leadership in real-world situations such as those experienced by combat veterans. “I understand what it takes to lead,” he reminded. “I’m a proven leader.”
“We need Americans who are willing to fight- whether that is to fight against politicians like Harry Reid or fight against deals being made with Harry Reid by the Republican leadership thereby allowing Barack Obama to meet his agenda.” Col. Maness cited the omnibus bill as a classic example of this kind of failure of leadership in the Senate.
The conversation pivoted to President Obama’s use of executive orders to unilaterally create laws designed to undercut Second Amendment protections. To rein-in the executive overstep, Maness stressed that Congress has the power of the purse and should be entirely willing to use it to stop executive tyranny.
“Republican Party leaders put it on the table that they will not use the power of the purse because they fear some mythical government shutdown backlash which has never been proven to exist. The facts show that from the shutdown from 2013, the GOP ended up taking back the Senate and gaining seats in the House… We’ve proved time and time again that using the power of the purse does not hurt political parties if it is for the right reasons.
That’s the bottom line: follow the Constitution, insist on the following of the Constitution and use the checks and balances built into the Constitution and if we do not do that, we continue down this road of ever-expanding bureaucracy and ever-expanding imperial power of the presidency and that is not what the American people want, need or are expecting based on what the Founders gave us.”
Our discussion moved freely and with a pointed urgency. Far from a venting session filled with intangible goals that are too-often found in the utterances of less-than-serious candidates, Col. Maness’ talking points served as a powerful amalgamation of equal measures ideological steadfastness and prudent understanding of what policies are needed to fix the mess in which America finds herself.
Throughout the conversation, it became abundantly clear that Col. Maness views service to his country not as a mere means to achieve his career ends, but as an honor- that words like “duty,” “oath,” patriotism” and even “America” are not mere terms to be casually thrown-around, but solemn words backed with true meaning.
In this regard, it’s clear that Col. Maness seeks the Senate position not to serve as yet another politician in the dirty business of politics, but to serve as a leader in America’s dark hour.