(Sentinel photo by Don McDowell)
John Cox, a 50 year old businessman and from Chicago, wants to make America the 'shining city on the hill' just like Ronald Reagan once proclaimed, but he isn't going to sit idly and wait for someone else to show the kind of leadership that he feels America needs. He wants to be guy that provides it.
Cox was in Le Mars at the Family Table on Wednesday, June 14, to greet a handful of curious Republican activists for lunch and to talk about his vision for America.
Cox grew up in inner city Chicago with his mother who raised him by herself. Cox said he never knew his father.
"My father took one look at me and decided he didn't want the responsibility so he exited stage left. I grew up without very much and we were very poor," said Cox, who has tremendous admiration for his mother.
Cox said his mother taught him the incredible value of education and so he worked hard to put himself through college and law school.
After graduation, he worked in an accounting firm and eventually started his own office which was a combination of an accounting and law firm. Shortly after, he opened an investment advisory firm, a real-estate business, and a venture capitalist firm.
He also has written several books, including his current book, 'Politics Inc.', which he has been showing off on the campaign trail.
Cox, now independently wealthy, remembers first getting started.
"I didn't even have enough money for a secretary," said Cox who has since purchased over 1,000 apartments in the Chicago area and successfully turned around a major potato chip company that was running millions of dollars in debt.
Cox said he has lived his life by taking just one step at a time. He believes that running for President is just the next step in his personal life journey.
"I just didn't roll out of bed one morning and decide to run for President. I've got four daughters and a wife and I gave a lot of consideration to this. My wife was sick of me yelling at the tv and being frustrated by the way the government was behaving so she told me to do something about it." Cox, who would pattern his governing style based on his political idol Ronald Reagan, says he will also follow the eleventh commandment that Reagan also followed: Never talk badly about a fellow Republican.
Though Cox says he is concerned about the current group of Republicans looking to jump into the race to replace George W. Bush.
"The people running in 2008 for the GOP nomination are all good men, but I don't see the next Ronald Reagan in that bunch. I see gentlemen who see this as the next rung in the political ladder," explained Cox.
He continued, "It requires leadership and we need another Ronald Reagan but I just do not see that on the horizon."
Though Cox was ripe with references to the late President, he also was very interested in sharing his own vision for America.
Billing himself as a 'progressive conservative', Cox is completely pro-life on the abortion issue without any exceptions and he is opposed to gay marriage and civil unions.
Cox also believes that the federal tax code should be scrapped and be replaced by what is dubbed, 'the fair tax'. Cox would replace the current progressive tax code with a national consumption tax that would not only help out consumers but also companies.
"The trouble with our current tax system is everything is taxed multiple times. It's not fair and it's not healthy for our economy," said Cox. He criticized Democrats for playing 'class warfare'.
"You don't make people rich by making others poor and Democrats don't seem to understand that. They are more interested in pitting the rich against the poor," said a frustrated Cox.
On health care, Cox said the current government elites are only concerned about appeasing a few political constituencies instead of actually fixing the problems.
"We aren't doing anything with principle. Washington keeps shifting the costs to the government just to take some issues off the table. They aren't doing anything but growing government and the problems still remain," explained Cox.
The Republican was not silent on two of the hottest issues in America right now: immigration and the war in Iraq. Though Cox considers himself to be an ardent supporter of President Bush, he differs a little with the man he wants to replace.
Cox says he welcomes new immigrants to America but strongly disagrees with a 'guest worker program' that the President has suggested. He claims that the migrant workers will just come to America, earn some money, and then go back and spend it in a corrupt Mexican economy.
"I'm not anti-immigration. In fact, I get really upset if someone calls me that. I don't want guest workers, I want people to be Americans who will invest in our communities and business, in our churches, synagogues, and mosques," said Cox.
On Iraq, Cox believes it was a smart move to go into Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein, but believes that there has been a lot of mismanagement since the invasion. Cox believes that the United States should be focusing more on getting the economy in Iraq flourishing rather than the government there.
"We need to divide up the oil into five independent oil companies and then sell shares to the Iraqi people. I believe whole-heartedly that if the Iraqis have more of a stake in their future, they will eliminate the terrorists faster," relayed Cox. "If I could take a page from Bill Clinton, 'It's the economy stupid.' If we turned Iraq into a vibrant capitalistic country, terrorism will erode away."
Though Cox has a long journey to travel before he takes his oath of office, he is putting in the time and effort early before many other candidates officially declare their candidacies.
Cox has been in all of Iowa's 99 counties and a vast majority of New Hampshire and South Carolina's counties, the two other states which follow the Iowa caucuses and help kick off the nominating process for the two major parties.
"I'm an outsider so I don't have any experience raising your taxes or creating gigantic budgets," joked the presidential wannabe. "I represent something different, a breath of fresh air. We need to be governed by principle," said Cox. "We have too much corruption, a lack of principle, and too many people in Washington that just want to do and say whatever just to stay in Washington. We need statesmen and not career politicians."
"I'm not a career politician."