Jesse Ventura on Principles & Values
Former Independent MN Governor
The Star Tribune noted the new Pawlenty First Family's decorating style was homier than the "flamboyant Venturas." The library no longer featured a portrait of Ventura in knight's armor on a white stallion.
Clearly, there's something going on in our national psyche that the New York Times and the Washington Post don't want to examine. I'm tired of being told that anybody who questions the status quo is part of the disaffected, alienated element of our society that ought to wake up and salute the flag. Maybe being patriotic is about raising the curtain and wondering whether we've really been told the truth about things like September 11.
My father had 7 Bronze Stars for battles in WWII. He fought in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, came up through Anzio in Italy, and finished in Berlin. My mother Bernice was an Army nurse in North Africa. My brother Jan was in Vietnam. Not that any of my family would have cared, but I must have wondered how I could sit down with them at the dinner table: three veterans and one non-veteran. Especially in a time of war.
The Navy SEALs were created by Pres. Kennedy. SEAL stands for Sea-Air-Land, an elite team trained to carry out clandestine missions abroad. Basic training is called BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL). It lasted 22 weeks. It's set up so that, literally, only the strong survive. There was an 80% dropout rate.
"Can I see your ID please?" I blurted out.
"But I just showed HIM," she said, pointing at the cop.
"I don't care how old you are, I just want to know your name," I said, feeling kind of proud of such a good line. Well, she went through her purse until she found her ID again, presented it to me without a word.
Terry: "This was the first time my girlfriends & I had ever gone to a suburban bar. When I first saw Jesse, he appeared to be the biggest thing in the entire place. I couldn't get that fellow at the door out of my head. Finally I said, 'I'm going upstairs.' My girlfriend said, 'You're gonna go flirt with that guy and leave us down here; real nice.' But I couldn't help myself."
I paraded around while the people got what they came for: They hated my guts. I was earning between $35 and $65 per night.
In 1978, when an announcer started referring to me as Jesse "The Body" and the nickname stuck, I joined one of the bigger leagues.
In this particular dance, it's the bad guy who leads--and who gets to be the most creative. I developed a move called "The Body-breaker," where I'd pick the other guy up across my shoulder and shake him relentlessly while I jumped up and down. "The most brutal man in wrestling!" I'd yell at the crowds.
Well, in the '80's, the sport of wrestling became huge. Before long, we were accepted by mainstream America. The first WrestleMania, in 1985, sold out Madison Square Garden. I was called "wrestling Goldilocks" and featured alongside basketball superstars. My tag-team events were earning $3,000 a match.
At the Capitol, a big gift-wrapped box [arrived]; inside was a pair of red Everlast boxing gloves and, written in magic marker on one of them was: "To Governor Jesse Ventura--You Shocked the World. Muhammad Ali." I was stunned. Muhammad was watching TV the night I won.
When Senator McCain came to see me early in 2000, he had just begun taking on George W. Bush. I was supporting McCain, because I believed then that a veteran, like him, and a moderate--which he no longer is today--was what the country needed.
I looked McCain in the eye and broached a possibility. "Senator," I said, "if you will quit the Republican Party, I will break my promise to MN and I will run with you. You for president, me for vice president. And we will win the 2000 election."
He smiled and said, "Well, I'd love to have you on board, but I can't quit the Republican Party."
We enjoyed each other's company so much that Arnold made sure I got a part in his next project, "The Running Man." This time, I played Captain Freedom, an egomaniac ex-wrestler who's doing color commentary for a sadistic game show in an American police state in 2017. Some of that hit a little close to home.
So I went off to college. I parallel this to only a few other times in my life. Becoming a Navy frogman. Driving off from Minneapolis to become a pro wrestler. Getting cast to do "Predator" with Schwarzenegger. And winning the governorship.
I'd been to Harvard once before, more than 4 years earlier. After getting elected governor, the Kennedy School had invited me to speak at a "Pizza and Politics" evening.
I'd expected Harvard to be a stuffy, arrogant place. But when I got there that day and saw how bright everyone was--what could be better? I loved it.
When elections turn into horse races and popularity contests, the candidates who end up rising to the top are not necessarily the ones who have the brightest ideas about how to govern our nation. Sometimes they’re the ones who’ll do anything to win.
Candidates are applying for jobs as public servants, and we, the voters, and the ones doing the hiring. If we’re going to hire the right person for the job, we need to focus on the candidates’ qualifications, their understanding of the issues that matter, and their plans for handling those issues. If any given candidate is too busy trashing his or her opponents to focus on the issues, then they’ve just told us they’re not qualified for the job
I believe that government’s proper role is limited to judging behavior that is harmful to people and property. Invariably, where the mega-libertarians screw up is carrying their argument for the rights of one person or group so far that they end up trampling on the rights of another. The right to swing your fist must end where your neighbor’s nose begins.
The Minnesota Reform Party success story stands in stark contrast to the national Reform Party. When we find ourselves caught up in an unproductive endeavor, it is wise to cut our losses and move on. It’s time for the Minnesota Reform Party to disconnect from the national party. It’s time to shift our energy and skills from unproductive national party activities to highly productive state party activities.
I realize this letter will come as bad news to many good people in other states who were hoping the Minnesota seed of success would take root in the national Reform Party. I too am sorry that did not happen. But it’s hard to grow a rose in a desert.
Politics is not my life. I have a career in radio and another career in film. I have a wife who is the sweetest person in the world and two kids who are growing up into terrific, well-rounded people. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in politics. When I’m finished with my term as governor, I’m going back to the life that’s waiting for me in the private sector.
Their answers were very clear, very honest. They said, It’s the same story every four years. Whenever an election’s coming up, all the politicians come out and give you the same song and dance about the same issues, all the way up until they get elected. Then you don’t hear any more from them until it’s time for them to get elected again. We’re tired of it. If you want to keep us involved, don’t tell us what you think we want to hear, tell us the truth.
There’s a great need in our government right now for honesty. I speak my mind. You might not always like what you hear, but you’re gonna hear it anyway. I call it like I see it; I tell the truth. And if I don’t know something, I’ll say so. Then I’ll try to find the answer.
We need to keep a permanently tight rein on government spending. I believe working people should keep as much of their money as possible, and I believe they should have a more direct say in how it’s spent. But I don’t believe we need the government’s help as much as some think we do. That belief sets me apart from the Democrats, since their way of dealing with everything is to tax and spend.
I also believe that government has no business telling us how we should live our lives. I think our lifestyle choices should be left up to us. What we do in our private lives is none of the government’s business. That position rules out the Republican Party for me. As the clich‚ says, “I don’t want Democrats in the boardroom and I don’t want Republicans in the bedroom.”
But I do have a problem with the people who think they have some right to try to impose their beliefs on others. I hate what the fundamentalist fanatics are doing to our country. It seems as though, if everybody doesn’t accept their version of reality, that somehow invalidates it for them. Everybody must believe the same things they do. That’s what I find weak and destructive.
The “Big Plan” for Minnesota, which goes into effect in 2001, has three phases. The first deals with smart growth principles: focusing on urban renewal instead of adding to suburban sprawl. The second phase is called “Self-Sufficient People: You’re Gonna Make It On Your Own.” Remember that old saying about giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day, or teaching him to fish and feeding him for a lifetime? We’re going to be turning Minnesota’s social programs into fishing schools, instead of free fish markets. The third phase of the Big Plan, “Service, Not Systems,” is where we get to reform wasteful government: we’ll trim the fat from government spending, and curb excessive lawmaking with my “law review every fourth year” plan.
I thought, “Don’t we elect these people to represent us, the populace? It don’t seem like they’re doing that.” The council’s voting record was 7-0, 7-0, 7-0 on every issue! They weren’t even letting other people talk unless they agreed with them.
I believe I was destined to become mayor of Brooklyn Park. And maybe, by fulfilling that destiny to become mayor, I sealed my destiny to become governor. I hope I’m not destined to become president. I don’t say that with arrogance-- it’s only that everything seemed to fall so easily into place in both of my other races. But I truly wanted to be mayor and governor--I don’t want the presidency. I’ll never say never, because you never know what will happen. But 99% of me says no.
The Midwestern Governors’ Conference (MGC) was created in December, 1962. The members of the conference include the governors of 13 Midwestern states. The MGC is a non-profit, bipartisan organization that brings together top state leaders to work cooperatively on important regional public policy issues.
The purpose of the Midwestern Governors’ Conference is “to foster regional development, to attain greater efficiency in state administration, to facilitate interstate cooperation and improve intergovernmental relationships, and to provide a medium for the exchange of views and experiences on subjects of general importance to the people of the Midwestern states.” In pursuit of these objectives, the conference has, through the years, established a wide array of committees, task forces and study groups charged with investigating and reporting on various issues of regional concern.
Recent subject areas addressed by various MGC committees and working groups have included agriculture, economic development, trade, child support enforcement, worker retention and recruitment, and tourism promotion. The results of these efforts have ranged from written reports to cooperative efforts. The conference also addresses these and other issues through policy statements and resolutions.
The conference also seeks to meet its goal of providing a forum for the exchange of information by sponsoring periodic meetings. In addition to the annual meetings, the conference has occasionally sponsored special meetings and regional roundtables devoted to specific issues such as international trade, state anti-drug strategies, and child support enforcement efforts. The MGC is increasingly concentrating on federal programs and policies and their impact on the region. This growing focus led to the addition (in late 1998) of a Washington-based staff person to monitor federal issues for the MGC.
The National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington’s most respected public policy organizations. NGA provides governors with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing policy reports on innovative state programs and hosting networking seminars for state government executive branch officials. The NGA Center for Best Practices focuses on state innovations and best practices on issues that range from education and health to technology, welfare reform, and the environment. NGA also provides management and technical assistance to both new and incumbent governors.
Since their initial meeting in 1908 to discuss interstate water problems, governors have worked through the National Governors Association to deal with issues of public policy and governance relating to the states. The association’s ongoing mission is to support the work of the governors by providing a bipartisan forum to help shape and implement national policy and to solve state problems.
Fortune Magazine recently named NGA as one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying organizations due, in large part, to NGA’s ability to lead the debate on issues that impact states. From welfare reform to education, from the historic tobacco settlement to wireless communications tax policies, NGA has influenced major public policy issues while maintaining the strength of our Federalist system of government.
There are three standing committees—on Economic Development and Commerce, Human Resources, and Natural Resources—that provide a venue for governors to examine and develop policy positions on key state and national issues.
[Note: NGA positions represent a majority view of the nation’s governors, but do not necessarily reflect a governor’s individual viewpoint. Governors vote on NGA policy positions but the votes are not made public.]
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)