Why (not) me?
A woman challenged me the other night, demanding to know what I have done that qualifies me for Congress. It’s a fair question. I am young (30) and fresh out of the Army, an unusual combination for a Congressional candidate. But her question implied the military is just about following orders, no thinking required, not a real job, and one providing experience that’s not relevant.
Let me reply.
First, I graduated from West Point in the top 15% of my class. That’s an achievement given how hard it is just to get in. It’s even more of an achievement for me, someone not so naturally gifted, to compete well against 1,200 exceptional, high-energy cadets. It shows a measure of work-ethic and intelligence all members of Congress should have.
Second, I fought. In the thick of it. Make of that what you will, but the freedoms and duties contained in our Constitution are not matters of lip-service to me. They’re personal. They should be personal to all members of Congress.
Third, I led from the platoon to the company levels; single digits to as many as 350 warriors. My duties were like those of a CEO. Not only did I conduct and oversee operations and planning, but I constantly assessed my unit’s strengths and weaknesses, innovating strategies and tactics while being responsible for equipment bought by American taxpayers worth hundreds of millions of dollars. If successful enterprise experience is a good indicator of political worth, this compares.
Fourth, I looked out for my soldiers. Battlefield success was paramount, but I did other tasks. I fired under-performing soldiers and dealt with the guilt of taking away a family’s paycheck. I helped performing soldiers manage their finances, plan their career, balance their home/work schedules, adjust for their personal issues (sick kids, divorce, PTSD), fight bureaucracies about their pay, healthcare, and living arrangements, and, during deployments, did my best to make sure they stayed on task and all came home alive. I put performing Americans first and everyone else second.
Fifth, I experienced the best and worst of mankind many only read about. Poverty, primitivism, gore, hopelessness, injustice, hatred, totalitarianism, tyranny, evil, heroism, sacrifice, unity, loyalty, professionalism, human dignity, good. I understand from experience why America’s way is the best way.
Sixth, I served as a battflefield ambassador of American foreign policy, brokered international tribal security agreements, solved problems, studied economies, learned Pashto, learned Islam from an Afghan mullah, slept on freezing Himalayan mountaintops, negotiated for lives, made life and death decisions under fire, sent home in a body bag a young soldier whose family I later cried with, rescued hostages from jihadists, called in airstrikes, the list goes on.
How much of this is relevant voters will decide. To those who compare candidates on the basis of what we have done, it is a start. I’m running for Congress because Congress is failing our people. We need leaders who won’t.
Jarrin Jackson is running for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District. Learn more by visiting JarrinJackson.com.