By John J. Duncan Jr.
The last article published about my 30 years in Congress was written by a man I never met and who never interviewed me.
Yet it summed up my career and the things I stood for better than anything I could have written myself.
Ryan Girdusky, a writer from New York, wrote an opinion piece published on December 13, 2018, in a magazine called The Week. I did not even see the article until over a year later when one of my sons saw it.
Girdusky wrote: “Duncan belongs to a brand of conservatism that dates back to the Eisenhower era, one that regularly opposed both the military-industrial complex and big business. He looked out for the interests of Main Street instead of Wall Street and voted to protect America’s liberty and security at home instead of traveling the world in search of monsters to destroy.”
He added: “Other Republicans used to believe in the same things Duncan advocates. Preserving American greatness isn’t achieved by sending a generation to fight and die to ‘make the world safe for democracy.’ It ought to be about advocating for the working class instead of Wall Street, K Street, or weapons developers who live in and around Washington, D.C.
Girdusky also wrote that conservatives “spent years idolizing Bush’s foreign policy…. Instead, they should have been paying attention to Jimmy Duncan. Quietly, and all this time, they had in front of them a man who showed bravery, conviction, and dedication to the idea of limited government at home and abroad.”
The article was titled “Jimmy Duncan, the hero America ignored.” And while I certainly appreciated what was written, I was definitely not a hero, and while I was not a national celebrity, I do not feel I was ignored.
I spoke on the floor of the U.S. House many more times than most members and wrote many columns for newspapers and magazines around the country.
I also spoke to all types of groups at meetings and conventions both in Washington and around the country and thousands of times to groups of people both large and small in my district.
And while it is true that I didn’t put out many press releases or work very hard to seek publicity, I was interviewed on many national TV programs and was frequently quoted on national newscasts and in newspaper articles.
The Girdusky piece said, “although he never received much media attention, Duncan deserves praise as a stalwart against the Bush administration policy of nation-building at a time when it was considered political suicide.”
The problem was that George Bush campaigned against nation-building and said repeatedly when he was running that we needed a “more humble foreign policy.”
However, he changed when he got into the White House and came under the control of a misnamed party called neo-conservative.
I had been speaking out for years saying that it was a mistake for us to spend billions (later trillions) in other countries when we were already deeply in debt and had so many needs here at home.
In early 2015, I spoke to about 200 members of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce at the famous Willard Hotel in Washington. At one point in my speech, I said, “It’s long past the time when we need to stop trying to run the whole world and start putting our own people and our country first once again.”
This was a group of important, successful people from southern California, and they didn’t know me, but they broke into applause. Donald Trump, a little later found that an America First platform was popular throughout the nation.
I believe now, more strongly than ever, if Congress does not stop spending trillions that we do not have it is going to destroy the America we have known.