Eric Greitens: Lost in Republican-land

greitens3Many Missouri Democrats have been wondering about Eric Greitens—the former Navy SEAL who is considering running for Governor in 2016. A few years ago, when he emerged onto the political scene, he sounded pretty good, his values seemed right, and some people thought he could be a reasonable choice for U.S. Congress, or for Governor, on the Democratic ticket.

But he’s not. And today, in an editorial for, he answered the question that he’s been repeatedly asked: “Why aren’t you a Democrat?”

He has now made it clear that, although he was raised as a Democrat, he now rejects the Democratic Party and calls himself a conservative Republican. His proclamation, though, is fraught with contradictions, full of rhetorical holes, and almost completely devoid of actual ideas:

I was raised as a Democrat. I was taught that Harry Truman was the greatest president ever because he was strong, stood up to the communists, and most important, he was from Missouri. I was taught to stand up for the little guy, and that bigger government was the best way to do that…There was one rather large problem. As I got older, I no longer believed in their ideas.

So, Greitens apparently still believes in standing up for “the little guy.” But he wants to do that by joining the Republican party—the party of the 1-percenters, the party that has somehow convinced a lot of “little guys” that Republicans care about them while picking their pockets, refusing to raise the minimum wage, and trying to kill Social Security.

…I had concluded that liberals aren’t just wrong. All too often they are world-class hypocrites. They talk a great game about helping the most vulnerable, with ideas that feel good and fashionable. The problem is their ideas don’t work, and often hurt the exact people they claim to help.

Wait, who are the hypocrites? Sorry, Eric, but “talking a great game about helping the most vulnerable,” while doing the exact opposite has become a Republican trademark.

Greitens complains that,

…After four tours of duty as a Navy SEAL officer, I came home from Iraq and watched the VA – the second-biggest bureaucracy in the country – fail my friends. The VA was broken and my friends were suffering. And yet, time and again, the only “solution” I heard from liberals was to spend more money. It made me angry.

I agree that the VA has not worked for many veterans. But who broke it by cutting its funds? And who started two unnecessary—unfunded—wars, without planning for the hundreds of thousands of wounded soldiers they spawned? Check your history, Eric: Those were the actions of a Republican president and a Republican-dominated Congress.

Greitens goes on to say:

I became a conservative because I believe that caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens, telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear.

I’m afraid that Greitens has that all backwards. What Republicans tell citizens–what they want them to hear– is that “we have the greatest healthcare system in the world,” and that “we live in the greatest country in the world,” and that tax breaks for huge corporations will trickle down as more jobs and more money for little guys, and that a raise in the minimum wage is bad for America.

But what citizens actually “need to hear” is that their homes are in foreclosure because Republicans would rather protect banks than people; that they are not going to get a living wage or a raise, because Republicans would rather kill unions and help their corporate donors rather than workers; and that the biggest result of “trickle down” economics has been the biggest trickle up transfer of wealth in the history of this country.

The worst are politicians who smugly talk about caring for the little guy, and then abandon the poorest, and most vulnerable.

So true. So, Eric, why would you want to join Republican efforts to cut TANF funds and food stamps and to prevent hundreds of thousands of people from getting Medicaid health benefits? The people who rely on these things literally to stay alive are the poorest and the most vulnerable.

I believe Missouri is heading the wrong direction, and I don’t trust the career politicians who created this mess to fix it.

And I agree that Missouri is heading the wrong direction. But the damage is being done by the Republican-dominated Missouri State Legislature. We are intermittently saved from total disaster only by the tenuous veto power of our Democratic governor. I would like to think that a person like Eric Greitens, who seems intelligent and well-intentioned, would not want to be a rubber-stamp for the economically, medically and socially dangerous laws that Missouri’s right-wing legislators seem intent on inflicting onto their constituents.

Finally, Greitens states what he would do differently:

I believe in replacing ObamaCare with something that actually works. I believe in putting working families and job creation ahead of special interests. I believe that in a free society we have to defend religious liberties and the 2nd Amendment, and protect innocent life, so everyone has the freedom to pursue happiness. I believe in reforming welfare, so every person can have a chance at a life of dignity, purpose, and meaning.

In other words, he doesn’t have any ideas, just platitudes and Republican talking points. He’s come a long way from his Democratic upbringing, which he describes as “standing up for the little guy, for working families and the middle class.” Instead, he has shifted to Republican red-meat, fundraising gold in the form of phrases like “religious liberties” [anti-same-sex marriage], “2nd Amendment” and “protecting innocent life.”

“We don’t need more rhetoric,” he says. But that’s all we get from Greitens. Go to his website: You can donate, and you can read Greiten’s’ resume, and you can see how handsome he is. But you can’t find anything specific about any new ideas or policies.

It’s very disappointing. Before he got lost in Republican-land, Greitens shoulda coulda woulda been someone we mighta been able to get behind.