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- Guest Column
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Commentary: The Raeses and the Love of Country
For example, every soldier, marine, and sailor who went to war for this country was backing up his belief in America with his participation and his sacrifice, whether of his time, his job prospects, or even his life. Such individuals are not at odds with their beliefs; they are at one with them.
This brings us to John and Liz Raese. In their own lives, this West Virginia couple had no imminent need to get into the mud pit that is West Virginia politics. They were doing fine, with John heading up one of the state's most celebrated collection of family businesses, Greer Industries.
Many, in fact most capitalists with all that John had going him would have avoided politics like the plague. Their only connection to policymaking might be a donation to a given officeholder's campaign or perhaps throwing a fundraiser for a top leader--all just to have that leader remember their industry at the right time. That's the way it usually works.
But John Raese had more on his mind over the years. He is one of the most productive entrepreneurs the state has seen in recent times, taking what he was given from his family and expanding every one of their enterprises. Some of his business efforts are entirely his own creation, like the Metronews Radio Network, Pikewood Creative, and Pikewood National, one of the best new golf courses in America.
That would satisfy most business leaders. But during 1984, when he threw his hat in the ring for U.S. Senate against Jay Rockefeller, Raese saw up close and personal what a terrible economy does to a people.
Coal company after coal company went down the chute under Rockefeller, and while that was simply a sad statistic to most of us, Raese met some of the statistics and found hardworking West Virginians without work. Such stories are painful to learn about, as they leave us with images of bankrupted families and men who feel they have lost their purpose in life. Bad news all around.
In addition to Raese's study of the value of less government, lower taxes, and a new respect for the contribution of our veterans and churches across West Virginia, the economy of our state and nation was always his chief concern. From a healthier economic climate, everything else flows: better and more jobs, improved education, and less public debt.
Some have asked why John Raese decided to run this last time against Joe Manchin. After all, Manchin was bound to be hard to beat, now that he had slipped by Raese more narrowly in 2010. An incumbent U.S. Senator is always more difficult to beat. So why did Raese try again?
The answer is easily found by looking back at Raese's entire political career, from 1984 on: West Virginia's economy, and in this 2012 contest, the nation's economy. Raese is in the business of looking out far ahead for any turbulence that might affect his companies and employees. That's what CEOs do.
So even if the run this year against Manchin was bound to be an uphill climb, Raese sacrificed some of his pride in order to sound the alarm about what he feels Obamacare and the rising national debt is going to do to us all, especially to West Virginia's small businessmen.
Raese crisscrossed West Virginia many times over this past year, so that he could give detailed speeches on the subject of our economic condition and what we needed to do about it. This was the only way to really get his message out beyond the 30 second TV and radio spots that never tell the whole story.
When one of us cares enough to take eleven months off work to tell us something he thinks is important for us to know, it's worth a listen in this age of attention deficit disorder. After all, the powers that be, the ones who don't want the people to hold them accountable for their mistakes, like it when we get distracted by all the information vying for our attention in the 21st Century.
John Raese was trying to cut through all that and tell us something important about the direction of our economy--and the direction of our country.
In the Steven Spielberg movie, "Lincoln," early in the film President Lincoln gives a short speech at the dedication of a new building in D.C.
But Lincoln didn't care so much about the new building. He used the flag raising part of the dedication to note that, while it was his job to raise the flag, it was the people's job to keep it up. We all have our part to play.
For everyone who has tried to tell us something we very much need to know--and who has made a great sacrifice of time and effort to do so--we should have only salutes for them. They may have not risked their lives in battle like soldiers, but they have been shot at on our behalf, and that comes from the same common well of love of country.
We look forward to John and Liz Raese's next engagement in good citizenship, in whatever form it takes. Our children and grandchildren need to see statesmen and women who back up their speeches with action and sacrifice in the defense of liberty.