The game is getting old. We’ve seen this dynamic play out thousands of times. A man like Markwayne Mullin runs in 2012 as a conservative outsider and a man of the people. His message resonates with the voters in eastern Oklahoma. Yet, like most candidates who lack a firm philosophical grounding in conservatism and foundation in political warfare, Mullin got sucked into the cesspool of the GOP establishment instead of working with those like fellow Oklahoman Jim Bridenstine to drain the swamp. Now he is a watercarrier for Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy and sports a failing Liberty Score.
After the presidential primary, it is very possible that Tulsa, Oklahoma will become ground zero for the next important fight for the grassroots. Markwayne Mullin (District 2) and Jim Bridenstine (District 1) both ran as insurgent conservative outsiders in 2012 from the area. However, whereas Bridenstine kept his promises to fight Boehner and the establishment, Mullin became an obsequious yes-man for the establishment and is now doing everything to climb the leadership ladder. Whereas Bridenstine is unequivocally keeping his term limit pledge, Mullin seems to be waffling. Now Bridenstine is being challenged by a straw-man K Street candidate promoted by some of Boehner’s allies. At the same time, Mullin is being challenged by Jarrin Jackson, a 30-year-old West Point graduate who may very well be one of the rising stars of this election cycle. The Oklahoma primaries are on June 28.
Before helping found Conservative Review, I worked on recruiting grassroots candidates to challenge the status quo within the Republican Party. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it is almost impossible to knock off incumbents in primaries. It is hard to find a candidate who is not flaky, is intelligent and accomplished; who understands conservatism both on a philosophical level and a contemporary political level; has a tangible grasp of legislative leverage points and leadership’s chicanery; and has the ability to put together a campaign and raise money. Naturally, now that I’m out of the recruitment business and working more on the conservative media side, I don’t easily perk up when I hear of a candidate who is running against an establishment incumbent. Ninety-five percent of them don’t go anywhere. However, Jarrin Jackson managed to catch my attention.
When he originally called me for an interview, I only planned to chat for 10 minutes because I had to jump on an important conference call. Instead, we spoke for over an hour and I missed my call. Jackson, a West Point graduate who is just 30 years old, is a man on a mission with resolve and intelligence that I have rarely seen in many of the candidates looking to challenge the political elites. Speaking to Jarrin, it was hard to realize he is only 30, but his experience very much represents the new generation of conservative leadership so many of us have been honored to be a part of. In fact, he reminds me a lot of another young combat veteran who knocked off an incumbent in the adjacent district: Jim Bridenstine.
Jarrin’s understanding of conservatism isn’t anchored to a textbook or even grassroots activism; it’s moored in the reality of his combat duty in Afghanistan. He buried friends, killed enemies, and instituted military rule over local tribes in Afghanistan, and therefore understands the profundity of what is at stake with preserving our constitutional republican form of government. Jarrin wants to bridge the generational divide and inject into this languishing conservative movement a spirit of republicanism that hasn’t been seen in several decades, and certainly not by the generation that will be truly affected by the collapse of our republic. He told me he was inspired to run, in part, by Mark Levin’s call to action for millennials in “Plunder and Deceit.”
Jarrin laughs at those conservative leaders who can’t even stand up to Boehner and Ryan or the transgender agenda, as they use war-like terms to describe the consequences for not toeing the political line. As a platoon leader who left his pregnant wife to fight the Taliban, Jarrin is one of the few candidates I’ve met who gives the confidence that the aura of group think in D.C. will fail to dent his armor of common sense.
Jackson pointed to Gov. Mary Falin’s recent veto of a pro-life bill as emblematic of Republicans talking the conservative talk but being too fearful to put boots on the ground to fight for their position when the battle actually begins. “Governor Fallin has pro-life rhetoric but didn’t protect life when she vetoed a bill targeting the immorality of the abortion industry,” said Jackson. “The Republican Party isn’t delivering on the basic rights to Life, Liberty, and Property.”
He further noted that this is the same beef he has with his opponent, Congressman Mullin:
Rep. Mullin also campaigns as a pro-life conservative and boasts that he’s been endorsed by the Right to Life, but he has been silent on Gov. Fallin’s anti-life veto, just as he has funded Planned Parenthood multiple times while campaigning against it. The best way to protect the unborn is to fire politicians who don’t have the courage to defend the defenseless.
Indeed, the indifference and silence of elected Republicans in the face of major culture battles in their home states has become a hallmark of the modern-day Republican Party.
Jarrin’s experience in Afghanistan has imbued him with a deep, sagacious understanding of the greatness of America and the importance of true public service. Jarrin shared with me some of his essays and diaries he wrote during or after his combat service. In a series titled “Why I Love America,” Jarrin juxtaposed his experiences with the failed civil society and tribal governance in Afghanistan to what our Founders intended for America. His observations from dealing with one village brought him to the conclusion that “the premise is that all humans are subject to human frailty and power is a corrupting force. The more power is spread out, the less likely it is to consolidate in those who would abuse it.”
Jarrin left the military because he was disgusted by the social engineering, lack of a defined mission, politicized generals, and egregious rules of engagement. He fought with some commanders in the military over these issues but concluded that the only way he could protect his military friends and inspire other people to join the military under its original mission was to serve as a voice in Congress for restoring the military to its former glory. He believes political correctness and social engineering are killing our military and society. You might even say he represents what many voters projected upon Trump, but in Jarrin’s case, he actually believes it to his core. He understands that as one member of Congress his votes will be less impactful than his voice on social media for conservative causes packaged through the rare persona of an energetic and resolute millennial.
While Jarrin is well aware of the near insurmountable task of unseating an incumbent, he has organized a grassroots army, raised about $60,000 and put in $50,000 of his own money. Believe it or not, that is actually a lot more than most candidates running against House incumbents. And for a young and growing family, that was a substantial commitment.
As readers of Conservative Review already know, I’m very skeptical of the ability to defeat incumbents in primaries and am a big proponent of changing to state conventions. But if one incumbent goes down this year, it’ll likely be at the hands of a 30-year-old combat veteran, Captain Jarrin Jackson, who knows a thing or two about uphill battles.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.