Outgoing Florida Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., said in an interview that his losing campign was marred by vicious attacks on his character that distracted from the “vigorous debate” about the direction of the country he’d like to have.
Though he has conceded defeat in his congressional reelection race, West told NPR that he was not necessarily done serving his country, noting that Abraham Lincoln also served only one term in office.
“We should have a vigorous debate about issues,” West said. “But when you want to try to destroy someone's character I think that that does have an impact and an effect in the electoral process, if we want to call it that.”
West questioned whether honor or integrity can exist in American politics, calling character assassination a distraction from governing the country.
In his own race, specifically, he said a group came from San Francisco spreading rumors that he beat his wife and portraying him as an “African-American punching white women in the face with boxing gloves or stealing money from black families.”
“There was also a Super PAC that came down from San Francisco, and this is what some of the people that were out walking neighborhoods, these people were spreading rumors that I beat my wife,” West said. “Also, there were some issues about voter fraud up in St. Lucie County. As a matter of fact, the certified results that were sent up from St. Lucie County, the supervisor of elections said that there were irregularities in it.”
Those irregularities, as well as early voting issues in swing states such as Florida and Ohio, are causing causing voters to question their role in the process while “career politicians” devise ways to stay in office.
Long-serving politicians who make working in Washington their job, he added, are part of the problem, adding to both the character-based arguments that dominate modern races, as well as problems with the voting process itself.
“Right now, there are a lot of people that are losing trust and confidence in the electoral process in the United States of America,” he said. “If people start to believe that their vote is not being counted, then we don't have the consent of the governed and we have something that is far less than what this country was intended to be.”
Though he lost, West said he expects to continue to serve the country in some way, though he gave no specifics or indication that he knew what that service would entail.
“God closes a door so that he can open up greater doors. I will continue to, you know, stand up and fight for this country,” he said, adding “and always remember, Abraham Lincoln only served one term in Congress, too.”
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