The Allen West Foundation hopes to “inform and inspire” a new generation of conservative leaders who are veterans or come from minority communities. As part of the effort, West convened a panel in Deerfield Beach to discuss the challenges facing small businesses in minority communities.
If the economy doesn’t improve in inner-city communities, home to many minority residents, West warned of dire consequences. “Do you want to see the United States of America look like Detroit?” he asked.
There were seats for 90, and about 30 people attended. West said he’d be happy “if there were a whole room of your sons and daughters,” but said those who attended should go forth and spread the word.
“The last time I checked, this is a republic. And in a republic, it is about the people. But too often what I think has happened in this country, you have ceded it over to a bunch of elected officials,” he said.
Even though people complain, most of those people keep getting re-elected.
Action is needed everywhere he said, starting with places like school boards, where there are discussions going on about the new “common core curriculum.” If people don’t scrutinize what’s going on, he said, the country could end up with another generation of young people – “a bunch of robots” – who are skilled at taking tests.
Here’s a brief Q&A with West before the event started:
What are you doing here today?
“The most important thing that we have to look at is really minority small business growth. Small business growth overall. But when I go back to my old community in Atlanta, I was there a couple of weeks ago, it’s been decimated, and it’s a total shell of what it used to be, with especially Auburn Avenue.
“You’re not going to be able to turn around this economy until you do what is right by small business owners and then you think about the deplorable statistics in the minority communities with unemployment and some of the other very negative social statistics, you’ve got to get businesses back into those communities opening back up.”
How does that fit in with what the foundation is doing?
“It’s all about issue advocacy for the minority communities and also military from a conservative aspect, and when you talk about small business growth you want to talk about the right type of tax, fiscal and monetary policies and enable them to grow.”
How does that jibe with what you are doing with the [Allen West] Guardian Fund [political committee]?
“We want to also encourage those type of candidates. We were very successful in the last cycle to get seven former military guys up there in the House of Representatives. We had a couple or three that fell short…. But they’re all going to come back and run again. We’ll be supporting them again. So we’re looking at 12 candidates that we can support in the 2014 election cycle.”
You’ve said you won’t be a candidate yourself for anything in 2014?
What about after that?
“Well, we’ll see what God leads me to do. Right now I’m busy. And far busier than what I was when I was a member [of Congress]. I think in the last month or so I’ve spoken ad the Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara, in Charlotte, N.C., in Dallas, Texas. Spoke at a graduation in New York City. I’ll be speaking in New York City next week. I’m here doing these things, and all of that’s on top of my normal job.”
Obviously you would have like to be re-elected, but are you enjoying what you are doing now?
“I’m still serving my country and doing what I can to keep a message going, keep my voice out there. The good thing about paratroopers is we always land on our feet, and we fight wherever we land.”
Looking back now that you’ve had some time to reflect, is there anything you would have done differently in the campaign or your time in Congress?
“No Just be myself. And then let the people make their choice. Look, congressional seats don’t belong to individuals. They belong to the people. They make their decision. That doesn’t mean it alters who I am and what I do.”
You’re going to be speaking to a graduation [Thursday night]. What message do you give young people?
“The most important message tonight, it’s the Christian school that my daughter goes to, it really is about the challenges of this world and how they have to hold on to their faith and their convictions to enable them to make the right type of stand. But to always try to give them a positive message that no matter how bad things look as long as they know from whence they get their strength, they’ll be able to be successful, but it is all about the decisions that they make henceforth will have consequences, so they need to be make sure they’re making the right decisions so that they have the right consequences.”
West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, no longer has the platform he enjoyed during his two years in Congress, but said he’s busier now than when he was a Republican representing Broward and Palm Beach counties.
West hosts an Internet-based talk show and recently signed on as a commentator for Fox News. He presides over his foundation and the Allen West Guardian Fund, a political action committee.
West wouldn’t say what he’s thinking of running for in 2016 or later, but WIOD radio talker Manny Munoz, who moderated Thursday’s event, suggested two possibilities – U.S. Senate and president – that won applause from the audience.