As I watch this pandemic unfold in slow motion and as our elected officials responded even more slowly, I’m newly reminded why I am running to unseat Joni Ernst: because Iowans deserve decisive leadership in Washington.
The U.S. Navy gave me a 36-year-long lesson in leadership. They never asked me if I was ready for the next challenge; it was always a test — pass or fail.
Thankfully, I was well prepared: working in a hog-kill plant in Sioux County, being confident that no boss was tougher than my dad, and standing before my sailors and soldiers with the foundation of Iowa values — these things helped a lot.
I survived those early tests and went on to command a ship, a task force at sea and even ground forces in a combat theater, staffs in Washington, D.C., and an 800-person defense agency. Whether the challenge was a mere 43- or 4,000-person staff, leadership is the sole quality that prepared me to be a three-star admiral.
Leadership is what is most craved when decisions really count, when long-term viability is needed and when lives are on the line. It is what is needed during this crisis and the ones that will follow.
We Iowans and all of America now are faced with getting through this pandemic — surviving as an economy, surviving individually.
We can do this.
Hurricanes have slammed economies and, working for the Department of Defense, I helped rebuild them. Ebola decimated communities and, working in the Pentagon and in Africa, I helped rally the international efforts to save them. With leadership, experienced decision-making, understanding the big picture, and feeling the weight of empathy, we can emerge from this a stronger Iowa, and a stronger nation.
One thing is certain: Iowans will not be rewarded by sending amateurs to the Senate. No training wheels are permitted when we are a nation attempting to emerge from a pandemic and to fix what ails us.
Let’s vote for leadership and emerge from this pandemic with a renewed sense of purpose.
Mike Franken is a retired admiral in the U.S. Navy. He now lives in Sioux City, where his campaign is based, but he is a native of Sioux Center.