OKLA. CITY — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of profile stories about candidates seeking the 5th District Congressional seat. Other candidates who have announced plans to file for the office April 9-11 are Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, Sen. Clark Jolley, Rep. Mike Turner, Rep. Shane Jett and Harvey Sparks on the GOP side. Democrats announced for the seat are Tom Guild, state Sen. Al McAffrey, Keith Davenport and Marilyn Rainwater.
Former state Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, is under no illusion that he can convince 434 members to do what’s right in Congress if voters elect him to represent them in the U.S. Congressional 5th District.
“I do know from my time in the state Senate, that if you take a stand on good issues, and if you educate folks on the facts, that many times you can make a huge difference,” he said.
A retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, Russell was a warrior in the war with Iraq. He is the author of “We Got Him: A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein.”
“Our country is in peril,” Russell said. “The policies that we have, both economically with constant deficit spending are unsustainable.”
America has one of two choices, he said. The nation can begin to correct itself or face an extreme crisis, he added.
“I don’t know if it’s too late to try to correct ourselves, but we have to try,” he said.
Russell said he knows as a soldier who has fought on three continents that the U.S. cannot afford to be isolated amid domestic squabble.
“Such a lack of commitment to our allies, and lack of commitment to the way the world is — will result in people like me — when I served in the active military, going through extraordinary hardship and perhaps giving our lives while America puts itself back together.”
Congress is making terrible decisions economically, domestically and with foreign policy, Russell said. The American people need to be unrestricted in solving their problems, he said.
There is nothing that the American people cannot solve, he said. Hardships have occurred many times in the nation’s history. American leadership and innovation usually prevails when crisis is forced upon the people, Russell said.
So what are a few of Russell’s ideas?
“I think right now we look at our energy sector and we have tremendous opportunity,” Russell said. “With the right economic policies we could literally not only solve so much of our energy demand, our energy requirements, our energy security, but we could totally transform the country.”
Strong economics and a sound energy policy is a matter of national security, he said. The U.S. is in a position to own most of its own energy requirements and become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, Russell said.
“That’s not above the scope of what we have come across with American innovation and technology,” he continued.
Free-minded innovation can translate into higher revenues for the government. It can transform the economy with business. He likens it to the woes faced by Great Britain before the advent of steam.
“There are 19 permits now that with the stroke of an executive pen could literally flow liquid natural gas into cargo vessels to send over to Europe,” Russell said.
This would strengthen the U.S. commitment to its allies and provide economic energy resources for Oklahoma companies and the U.S.
“Yet the excuses given are so pathetic,” Russell said. “‘It would take up to a year,’ we are told by our president. So what? It’s a matter of months.”
He likens the need for America to respond to energy restoration to what the country faced after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. There was a call for increasing the Armed Forces, he said.
“We had an administration at that time that said it will take two years before those troops are available to train,” Russell said. “I thought about that as I was fighting for my life in 2003, thinking, ‘Gee, It’s two years later and those troops would have come in handy.’”
Instead, more troops were added later after extraordinary sacrifice of American sons and daughters, he said.
The reputation of the NATO Alliance is at risk, Russell said. After the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the U.S. reached out to several former Eastern block countries who became NATO partners. Other countries had to show they are worth the risk of stating the entire NATO Alliance in their defense, he explained.
If NATO cannot defend itself and reach out members of the Office of European Security and Cooperation states, then trust in the reputation of the NATO alliance is not viable, he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding Ukraine over a barrel because of millions of dollars it supposedly owes Russia. But Russia also owed for base commitments in Crimea, which they absorbed by force.
“They need natural gas. Russia is not going to provide them natural gas,” Russell said. “We literally could. And Germany, France and so many other of our allies. We could meet that.”
The U.S. has enough natural gas to provide energy for centuries.
“God has blessed the United States with rich resources,” he said. “And yet, here we are, imagining ourselves poor. Imaging ourselves unable to act. And it’s really an outlook, an ideology and an agenda that’s holding us back.”
TO LEARN MORE about former state Sen. Steve Russell, visit http://www.steverussellforcongress.com