Mission first. Those two words describe how Ben Leming intends to lead as a United States Congressman. I have to admit, I’m pretty jaded, and I am usually wary of those that use military parlance too frequently. I remember, as a young man, hearing men like my father talk about duty and honor and the words seemed to fit the men that used them, probably because so many men in my neighborhood had served our country during WWII. I hate that I frequently feel as though the words and their meaning have been so diluted that we tend to hear them without affording them the esteem they deserve. Anyway, I was prepared to be less than impressed when I and a throng of almost 12 people (sorry, Robertson County Democrats, but you dropped the ball again) settled in after dinner to hear our would-be candidate speak.
Ben stood up and talked about his 15 years in uniform, from the time Congressman Bart Gordon awarded him an appointment to Annapolis, to his tours flying helicopters for medical evacuations in combat zones, to his experiences as an intelligence officer throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean. then finally to his time teaching at the Naval Academy. To hear him tell it, he joined the Corps for the promise of adventure in exotic places, and while he certainly got that, he found something even better…his true self, or what he calls his core values. Really, values is yet another word that many unscrupulous politicians cheapen by misuse, but when spoken by this retired marine officer it’s authenticity rang true. I started to let my guard down a little.
He then asked for questions, and right off the bat got three tough ones to field. Each time, I expected him to dodge and weave and pivot back to safe ground, but he didn’t do it. What I found especially surprising was his willingness to take a leader’s position on each issue, rather than pander to the people in the room. It was quite apparent that the mindset of mission first guides him and helps him clearly define his position. If it isn’t useful for our efforts, there is little time wasted on it.
I won’t try and report what he said about every issue he was asked about, because I think people need to go see and hear him for themselves, but I want to point out two things I found incredibly honest:
When speaking about our need to develop alternative energy sources, he flat out said he just returned from fighting in a war for oil, and doesn’t want to send anyone’s kids to fight another one. Rare that we hear the “war for oil” phrase from a former military officer. That is gutsy, and honest, and what one should expect from a leader.
When asked about an issue he didn’t know a great deal about, he just admitted it, and asked the questioner what they thought. I admire smart people who know what they don’t know, and who are willing to listen and learn from those who are passionate about a particular issue.
Ben Leming has shown me that he indeed possesses the core values that I look for in any leader; honesty, integrity, compassion. In addition, he is intelligent and focused. I’m going to send him a few bucks, because I believe he is head and shoulders better suited to help solve our future challenges than any of his opponents. If you are a Democrat, look him up on Facebook or go to his website, and make the time to go meet him. If you are a Republican, do the same.