Maintaining conversation with liberals is a good skill for conservatives, Randy “Duke” Cunningham told the Hot Springs Village Tea Party on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Honored for bravery in Vietnam, and serving multiple terms in the U.S. House, Cunningham has enjoyed retirement in Hot Springs Village.
Born Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the U.S. was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Cunningham later became the first of only two Vietnam War fighter plane aces.
Graduating from the University of Missouri, the California native taught school, holds two master’s degrees and served 20 years in the Navy.
Cunningham challenged conservatives to not just talk among themselves, but to talk cordially with those of other political beliefs and backgrounds. Liberals who better understand conservative issues might be won over, he says.
“That’s not just how you win elections,” he said. “That’s how you make this country better.”
Saying tax reform is needed to raise economic growth to at least 3 percent annually, he told the Tea Party he supports President Trump’s economic proposal to Congress.
Cunningham said 3 percent annual growth is needed to keep up with the deficit – the amount of debt accrued annually. Growth slid to 1.8 percent under President Obama, Cunningham said.
Data is compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, a unit of the Commerce Department.
Cunningham said the Democratic Party’s leadership’s call for bipartisanship is phony, as the leaders do not want President Trump to be successful. Even some of the Republican establishment hopes Trump will fail, he said.
“If the economy is good, what chance do they have in 2018 or the next presidential election?” Cunningham asked.
Being sensitive to issues can help conservatives pass legislation.
As a congressman, Cunningham amended another Republican’s bill calling for “English only” to “English first.” It’s an important distinction, he said, because while English is America’s main language, it tells Latinos living in the U.S. that their culture is important, too.
He represented San Diego, Calif., a city on the border with Tijuana, Mexico, and which also has a sizable Latino population, and said he made efforts to meet with Latinos to better understand their concerns.
He favors speeding up the immigration process, which takes too long now, he said.
Trade deals are an important issue, he said. Keeping more money in the U.S., rather than sending it to China and Japan, will help Americans. “The middle class has not had a pay increase in many years,” he said.
Low fuel costs should be a key goal. “When diesel was $2.18 a gallon, that was like a tax break,” he said.
High fuel affects Americans far more than just at the pump, raises prices in stores, for real estate and the trucking industry. “Who pays for that?” he asked. “You do.”
Cunningham praised Trump for reducing what the speaker said were “onerous” regulations.
Tea Party members also asked questions. On North Korea, Cunningham said it is vital to develop a broad coalition for dealing with North Korea. A broad coalition is also needed for dealing with Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, he said.
While he doesn’t support everything the president has done, Cunningham said he does hope Trump seeks re-election in 2020.
Cunningham said U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent representing Vermont and a major challenger to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, is not a socialist, as he says, but a Marxist.
Citing the Congressional Progressive Caucus platform, co-founded by Sanders in 1991, Cunningham said if the Left had won the 2016 presidential election, the government would take control of property and transportation, would place the highest progressive income tax possible, and would slash the defense budget in half.
It scares him that a majority of young Democratic voters favored Sanders in last year’s primaries.
Cunningham said the higher education system has a strong liberal bias. “If a student writes a paper with a conservative slant, they get an “F”, or a low grade,” he said.
Discussing the NFL players who took a knee rather than stand for the National Anthem recently,
Cunningham said they shouldn’t be fired, but disciplined. Coaches should tell players in the locker room, “If you come out and take a knee, there are going to be some consequences,” he said.
Republicans and Democrats should work together whenever possible for the country’s betterment, Cunningham says. He said there are Democrats on the left that Republicans will be unable to work with, but there are other Democrats who are approachable and who will work with Republicans.
“You find the members on the other side of the aisle you can work with, and you develop legislation,” he says. “You can do a lot of good if you’re willing to work with the other side.”
Highly decorated for his Vietnam service, Cunningham received the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, 15 Air Medals and the Purple Heart.
Tea Party members honored Cunningham after his talk with a cake. He plans to move to Florida.
He also offered copies of his book and a video for sale.