John James, U.S. Army veteran and Republican Senate candidate for Michigan, delivered a rousing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Saturday about fighting socialism in the United States.
“Do not underestimate the appeal of socialism,” he warned. “We must counter the socialism movement of envy and confiscation with the conservative movement of access and opportunity.”
James spoke about his own family’s story, in which they went from slave to potentially Michigan’s first black U.S. senator in four generations, and from poverty to prosperity in one generation.
He told the story of his father, born in 1941 in Starkville, Mississippi, who lived across the street from Mississippi State University but “couldn’t go there because he was black.”
“He refused to allow vulnerability to become victimhood. He never allowed dependency to become his destiny,” he said. He continued:
He paid his way through college. He served honorably in Vietnam. He moved to Detroit in 1971 to start a trucking company with one truck, one trailer, and no excuses hauling beer back and fourth between Detroit and Milwaukee. For the next decade he fought government regulation all the way up to the Supreme Court for the right to compete. He worked, he evolved, until he was able to provide a life for his family that was previously unimaginable. He grew an idea into a $35 million company — automotive supplier.
James said his father and many who immigrated from the Jim Crow South “never asked for free stuff; they asked for a fair shot.”
“I am not standing here on this stage because of socialism. I am standing here because of free enterprise, and free will,” he said.
He said he was raised to be grateful and give back.
“When I was a little boy, I was taught to use my blessings to be a blessing to others. I was taught to take something good that you receive and turn it into something greater. I started by leaving home and attending West Point, becoming a Ranger qualified Apache pilot,” he said.
“I returned home from the war to an automotive industry in turmoil, a city in bankruptcy, and helped to grow that $35 million company into a $135 million dollar company under five years. I got married [and] made some little boys,” he said. “When I look at my three sons, I am reminded each and every single day that this is the greatest country on the planet.”
He said the 2020 presidential election is not about “beating Bernie,” it is about “freeing those from economic bondage in our cities and winning back the generation turning to socialism on our campuses.
For us to defeat socialism … we must show them an America where the son of a slave can become a sharecropper. Where the son of a sharecropper can become a mason. Where the son of a mason can become a truck driver. Where the son of a truck driver can stand before you here today on the brink of becoming Michigan’s first black U.S. senator.
The crowd at CPAC erupted in a chant of “USA! USA! USA!”
He continued, “You show me where in the world you can go from slave to senator in four generations, and from poverty to prosperity in one, I will show you America.”
“I am the walking result of the American dream,” he said. “I believe the American dream is worth fighting for. I believe the American dream is worth sacrificing for.”
James is running to replace incumbent Democrat Sen. Gary Peters in Michigan.