Congressman Frank Lucas sounded a warning about Russian aggression and the vital importance of the upcoming U.S. presidential election during a Town Hall meeting Aug. 18 at the Events at 10 West Main center.
Lucas, who represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District that includes all or portions of 32 counties in northern and western Oklahoma, spoke for the first part of the one-hour meeting and then opened the floor for questions from those who attended.
Lucas said he was “alarmed and concerned about what was going on in Russia.”
“Mr. Putin is attempting to rebuild the Russian empire,” the congressman said. “That continues with public reports in recent weeks about a buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. Perhaps they believe the Ukrainians aren’t taking their instructions clearly.”
He said he is also concerned with other bold initiatives ordered by Putin.
“You go from there to Russian involvement with troops on the ground in Syria, flying combat missions out of Iran (and flying over Iraqi air space) going after certain targets in Syria,” Lucas said during the meeting. “Add to that, the attempted military coup in Turkey, where the government has allegedly put over 18,000 people in jail and dismissed 60,000 civil servants, and that represents a dramatic shift in the policies and the focus there.”
Lucas said the national media has finally recognized the humanitarian disaster caused by the ongoing civil war in Syria, which he called “a vicious bloody experience” and compared it to the atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930’s.
“That’s the nature of what’s happening in Syria,” he said.
As for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lucas said President Obama has basically acknowledged, unlike his campaign promises when he was first elected, “you can’t just step away from those.”
“We’ll have a long term military presence in Afghanistan and in Iraq we’re now back up to about 6,000 troops on the ground trying to maintain some sense of stability,” Lucas said.
During the Town Hall meeting, the congressman spoke extensively about the general election slated for November, providing his personal experience and insight into what goes on in the nation’s capital during a presidential election cycle. He said many voters who are not engaged in “trying to make a difference in this country really don’t focus until the end of an election.”
There is a tendency when [voters] get down to that final decision they don’t pick someone that they’re for, but who is the lesser of the two evils.
“I’ve watched the Clinton’s in action for 22 years. My preconceived notions are so strong it’s unbelievable. I may not be enamored with the other guy, but the choice is what they are.
On the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme court Lucas said: “Even if you don’t care about foreign policy, even if you don’t care about economic policy,” the election still matters, he warned voters while citing several reasons why the election is so important.
“We have a vacancy on the Supreme Court right now,” said Lucas, “and there could possibly be two more places that have to be filled. This Supreme Court has several very frail, senior members so when you vote for president, you’re picking the individual who will fill the open seat now, and possibly two more seats in short order. That’s a third of the court. That’s a huge reason to be engaged.”
Lucas said there are several “amazing things” about swearing in a new president.
“It’s a peaceful transition of power from one administration to another,” he noted. “This doesn’t happen everywhere.”
During the swearing in ceremony the new president is given the “watch code box” that dates back to the Cold War days of the 1960’s “where the chief executive officer has the ability to start World War III,” Lucas said. “He can launch an atomic strike at any given moment if necessary.”
Those who may want to sit out the election don’t realize all that’s at stake,” he told the audience at the meeting.
“There are somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 relevant political appointments — people who serve at the discretion the president of the United States.
Immediately following the swearing in ceremony the new president has a document and with one signature “they fire all those political appointees,” Lucas said. “They have the ability with ‘one stroke’ to restart a whole bunch of things and this time that may be the single most important result of the presidential campaign.”