Omari Faulkner, a former U.S. diplomat and lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves, announced late last year that he was launching a bid for U.S Senate as a Republican out of Virginia.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Wire, Faulkner, who played college basketball at Georgetown University, discussed why he is running to unseat Democrat Senator Mark Warner as well as his unwavering support for the Second Amendment amid a push by Democrats in his state to implement gun confiscation.
Through challenges that he faced growing up, Faulkner developed a heart for serving others that is evident in what he has chosen to do for work. After playing basketball at Georgetown University, Faulkner traveled around the world while serving in the Bush administration at the U.S. State Department.
Faulkner said that as he traveled the world he witnessed many regimes in foreign countries limiting the rights and freedoms of their citizens and became determined to protect that rights and freedoms that the U.S. Constitution grants to Americans so that his four young daughters could grow up in a country that afforded him the opportunities that made his life possible.
Rooted in his Christian principles, Faulkner has also served in the U.S. Navy Reserves and has had success in the business world within the national security and defense industry and serves as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Georgetown University, and mentors students across the country.
I was taught to always challenge myself to be better. Now today, as conflict seeks to divide us & politicians fail us, it’s time to challenge our leaders to be better. #BeBetterVA pic.twitter.com/8a6Rru7977
— Omari Faulkner (@OmariFaulkner) November 13, 2019
The following is Omari Faulkner’s exclusive interview with The Daily Wire:
1. What inspired you to get into politics?
FAULKNER: I never wanted to get into politics, but when I see so many politicians and political activists working to divide our country and pit us against each other and pushing far-left, socialist agendas that infringe upon our individual liberties, it’s time to step up. That’s why I’m running for U.S. Senate. We must end this divide and stop the senseless political war games and return to fighting for the people. In all of the talk of divide and divisiveness, what truly gets lost is the American Dream.
I’m inspired by a much larger vision for Virginia and America, one that I feel we haven’t seen in a very long time. I am so proud of our country, I love our history – even through the darkest of times such as slavery – the Constitution, our democracy, our land of opportunity are still beacons of shining light.
At an early age my great-grandmother showed me the value of the American Dream. As a black woman born in 1901 in the Deep South, she worked her butt off. She believed in God, her family, and valuing her community. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by strong women in my life – from my great-grandmother, my grandmother, mom, sister, my wife and now my four daughters – who have all instilled in me the importance of family and achieving our own American Dream.
Virginia has not been well-served by its Democratic leaders. I want to challenge everyone to be better, to help us create a movement and a future that will inspire the generations to come to have strong family values, a reverence for our Constitutional liberties, an appreciation for serving their community, and an understanding that everyone can achieve their own American Dream.
2. Talk about your experience playing basketball at Georgetown. What was that opportunity like and how has that helped to prepare you for your Senate run?
FAULKNER: Georgetown University was the school of my dreams, but once I arrived on campus, my priorities were unbalanced. I focused far too much time and energy on basketball and my academics suffered as a result. I felt the discouragement and disappointment of failure at an early age and made a life altering decision during my sophomore season: I would uphold my promise to my father to not leave Georgetown regardless of what happened on the basketball court. I refocused my efforts on making a larger impact as a student-athlete.
I became a Deans List student, a better teammate, and I focused on how to use sports and culture to impact a larger community. After graduating from Georgetown University, I traveled to more than 45 countries as a Cultural Envoy with the U.S. Department of State. My perspective of the world forever changed.
My experience as an athlete and Sports Envoy taught me how to be what I call an Athlete For Life, which is a fierce competitor and a champion for the people. It’s the same drive of team and service, an example I continue to exhibit for my daughters today, that led me to join the U.S. Navy Reserve. Today as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves, it is my honor to wear the cloth of the nation, and ensure that our nation remains a beacon of freedom. It’s the same drive and determination to be better that I bring to our campaign and will bring to the U.S. Senate.
3. When we spoke earlier you mentioned that you and your wife moved to India for a period of time when you both worked for the State Department. Talk about your time there and what you learned from living in a different culture.
FAULKNER: I left for India as a newly married man and returned to the United States two years later as a husband and father of two children. The two things I took away from our time in India were the importance of a self-reliant family unit and the fact that America really is the land of opportunity, the shining city on a hill to countries around the world. India is plagued with government corruption. Families learn early on to rely on each other. People save and plan accordingly. They do not rely on the government because they cannot. While the self-reliance is similar to the American spirit, our American Dream could not be in bigger contrast with a country with a functioning caste system. In India, the elite remain the elite. There is very little economic mobility or opportunity. You are born into the life you will live. But in America, the American Dream is alive and well. Where you start does not determine where you end up. The son of a truck driver can travel the world, become successful in business, and with the support of the people of Virginia, become a U.S. Senator.
4. You worked in the Bush Administration as a Sports Envoy. What did you do in that position and how can sports help bring people together?
FAULKNER: As a Sports Envoy, my role was to connect with communities across the globe which had little to no interaction with Americans or Western culture. Many areas that I traveled had strong anti-American sentiment. But through dialogue, I was able to change hearts and break through the negative stereotypes that people held for the wrong reasons. I will take this same approach in my campaign. We must grow our party by finding common ground on issues – issues where President Trump has had bipartisan support, for example, like criminal justice reform, infrastructure, fairer trade deals, etc. Many Independents and Democrats are politically homeless, unable to recognize a Democrat Party that is now a fringe liberal party pushing a dangerous socialist agenda.
5. You are running against Democrat Senator Mark Warner. In what areas do you think he has let down the people of your state?
FAULKNER: Mark Warner represents the political elite class. He lost touch with Virginians long ago. He has not been working for the people of Virginia, but working for the goals of his party and his own ambition. I am most disappointed that Mark Warner has not led on National Security and Economic Growth throughout Virginia – we must insure that our Armed Forces and Veterans have the support they require while in service and the same for when they join the civilian workforce. These issues have taken a backseat for Mark Warner as he puts his party’s disdain for the Trump administration ahead of pro-growth policies that would benefit all Virginians. Some politicians in Virginia would have you believe that the deck is stacked, that there is no way to achieve what Mark Warner has been able to achieve. That simply isn’t true. I’ve proven time and time again throughout my life that anything is possible. Once I defeat Mark Warner it will be another storied victory for the American Spirit and American Dream.
6. What are the top three issues for the people of Virginia and how do you plan on addressing those issues?
FAULKNER: How about five? All of which are important to our country today and for its future.
- Economy: President Trump is doing incredible work on job creation. Minority employment is at an all-time low. More women are joining the labor force. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is more focused on expanding government to keep people in poverty. They are more concerned with creating a socialist economy instead of letting people make choices for themselves. Capitalism is the main driver of lifting people out of poverty and we need to expand economic opportunity across Virginia, across the country. We need to cut back on regulations to make it easier for business owners to do business and promote policies like Opportunity Zones. I want to make is easier for kids that come from backgrounds like mine to have a pathway to success.
- Homeland and National Security: Keeping our home front secure must always be a top priority. Today, as a business leader within the National Security and Defense arena, I support the growth and development of some of the best in class technology solutions for our federal government. Our government must work smarter and more efficiently with our dollars in every arena – especially national security. I also work on strategic workforce development strategies that will prepare our youth for the jobs and careers which will protect national security assets and assure we have the best and equipped military on the planet. We need to foster a new generation of leaders in the national security space to protect our future. We also have to do something about the backlog surrounding security clearances, a national security issue that doesn’t get nearly enough attention but one in which many Virginians know all too well. Additionally, we cannot talk about security without addressing the issues facing our veterans, military spouses, and transitioning Military Members. As an active reservist, I know that our service members and their families deserve more, and I’ll see that they get it. My focus will be on providing high-quality medical care, services to support a seamless transition from active duty to civilian careers, and assurance of zero barriers for our talented military spouses who seek gainful employment.
- Immigration: For so long our country has been a beacon of hope to the rest of the world. Immigrants have always been an important pillar in our country and we should welcome them. That said, our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. That starts with finishing the wall across our southern border, securing ports of entry, and closing immigration loopholes. America is still the land of opportunity and everyone should be able to partake in the prosperity of our nation, but it must be done the legal way. We cannot simply handout citizenship to anyone. We have to know where they are coming from, why they are coming here, and they need to have the proper documentation to validate their claim.
- Wasteful Government Spending: As long as our government continues to expand in size, we will continue to see wasteful spending across the board, and it needs to stop. Whether it be smashing the Budget Control Acts caps, suspending the debt ceiling, allotting trillions to pet projects, or simple refusal to look at government inefficiencies and adjust with times, our representatives have funded programs that do not represent the ideals of and values of Americans for too long. Every day Americans make tough decisions on how they must budget their money. Our government should be held to the same standard. As Americans, we support each other! Over 60% of Americans give to charity. I just don’t believe we should rely so heavily on government programs to decide what issues and programs are deserving and which are not.
- Defending Our Liberties: The far-left, led by the cast of characters running for the Democratic presidential nomination and limelight-seeking members of Congress, have taken the quest to infringe upon our rights of free speech, freedom of conscience, and right to bear arms to a new, dangerous level. I am committed to defending Virginians’ and Americans’ Constitutional, God-given rights in the face of a liberal, socialist agenda. Our freedom and individual liberties are what makes America, America.
7. Gun rights are a hot issue right now in Virginia as nearly the entire state is rebelling against the Democrats’ extremist anti-freedom agenda in the state. If elected, how will you work to protect the constitutional rights of Virginians?
FAULKNER: I am a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Growing up in poor areas of Memphis, TN, I witnessed first-hand loved ones be victim to gun violence. It is not law-abiding citizens who are committing these crimes – it’s criminals. Virginia Democrats are wrong in their attempts to criminalize Virginians’ 2nd Amendment rights. We need to talk about mental health and other ways to prevent gun violence, but taking away Constitutional rights is not the answer.
“We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” – James Madison
8. Why should minorities, women, and young people vote Republican and how do you plan to reach them?
FAULKNER: The Republican Party has not done the best job of reaching out to voters in communities like the one I grew up in. I grew up with conservative values and principles, but Republicans weren’t reaching out to a young African American in the poorer sections of Memphis. It wasn’t until I grew up and made my own way in the world that I discovered it was the Republican Party that supported individual opportunity, national security, and strong family values. I’ll take my story to similar communities. Everyone wants to see prosperity and growth, a strong education for their children, security in their communities. The Republican Party has continuously been a proponent of lower taxes, economic growth, and school choice, we just have to make sure that message is reaching all communities. I have always believed in community and service, yet the leadership of our party must reflect the people in which we represent. Virginia is now becoming more diverse than ever, both politically, racially, and economically. All these are positives and should be embraced. As a father to four young daughters I want them to see Virginia as a place to raise their families and enjoy the American Dream.
9. How should the GOP respond to some of the issues, like healthcare and student debt, that Democrats propose addressing with socialist policies?
FAULKNER: American innovation is the best source of solutions, not the government. We cannot stand idly by while the far-left attempts to tax Americans to cover the costs of their outlandish socialist programs that will only have detrimental effects on society and restrict our freedom over our own lives. We can find solutions to improve our healthcare system, but moving in a single payer direction is not the answer. We can discuss student debt and the impact it has on young families, but telling people we will just do away with debt is misleading and is just one more thing added to the bill being passed on to our children. But we have to offer free-market solutions and alternatives. We cannot just be the party of no.
10. How should Republicans respond to the Democrats becoming the party of identity politics?
FAULKNER: We all have an identity, yet that identity shouldn’t be confined, stereotyped, nor predetermined by our race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. I was born and raised in a conservative family, not because my parents told me I belonged to a particular party, but because they imparted into me the values and ideals — faith, hard work and the importance of leveraging the resources we did have to create a better life — that I believe are hallmarks of the Republican Party.
The Republican Party should continue to remind people what it means to be Republican and represent our conservative principles – lower taxes, secure boarders, school choice, a robust economy and a government that works for the people.
My parents divorced when I was four years old; my dear mother did everything she could to give us a better life. My father has always been a pillar in my life and through his hard work as a truck driver, he laid a foundation and set a solid example of earning every cent you make. We were always a family, and one that embraced the vision of the American Dream. My parents fought for it, and so have I.
11. What do you view as the greatest threat the United States both from a foreign and a domestic standpoint?
FAULKNER: From a domestic standpoint, inadequate education is the biggest threat. So many children today are trapped in schools that are not serving them well. Your zip code should not determine your destiny. We need to make sure our children and families have adequate education. A quality education is one of the best ways to advance one’s American Dream. It’s my story, it’s the story of thousands of other across the country, and I want to make sure it continues to be the story of thousands more.
Additionally, a lack of education results in a lack of historic knowledge. I am a history buff – largely because I believe that it is so important to understand where we have been so that we can learn from and improve. Our Constitution consistently reminds us of our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is our core, and these are our truths. Our history has seen battles fought at home and abroad, some of our history shows us at the worst of time, and some at the best. Yet, we cannot cover up unappealing history and the reminders of its existence. If we do so we run the risk of allowing such beliefs to manifest in younger generations who become completely unaware of our collective history. We must make sure our children are receiving the best education possible so they understand what it means to be an American, what our country has to offer them.
From a foreign standpoint, China is our biggest threat. From a sheer economic standpoint, they manipulate their currencies, practice untenable trade policies, and steal American intellectual property. President Trump is holding them to the fire to defend America against these practices, but we must continue to do so and must hold China accountable for the countless human rights violations they commit without any recourse.
12. If elected, what do you hope to accomplish with respect to policy?
FAULKNER: I want to continue the good work President Trump has done, especially on jobs, economic development, and trade. When I go to the U.S. Senate, I’m going to get things done. Americans are sick and tired of politicians spending more time on retweets than resolutions to the problems they face when they sit at the kitchen table every night. Whether it be school choice reform, immigration reform, or infrastructure, I will be committed to coming to the table, finding common ground with the other side, and getting wins for the American people.
13. A lot of the narrative surrounding the climate has come from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her proposed “Green New Deal,” which her former chief-of-staff even admitted was about implementing socialism. The “Green New Deal” is a socialist vision that the Democrat Party is trying to sell to America. How do you counter that? What is your vision for America?
FAULKNER: I believe it’s important to make sure we leave the world a better place for future generations. I think there are solutions out there, but the Green New Deal isn’t one of them. The price tag on the backs of our hard-working Middle Class is enough of a reason. The solution to our energy crisis lies in investing in different forms on energy and lifting restrictions on energy production. We need to end our dependence on foreign oil while maintaining a safe and clean environment for American families across our nation. We have ample supplies of clean coal, hydro, solar and wind power. We need to make the proper investments in them as the technology becomes more readily available. America has always been the leader in innovation and when American minds set their sights on something, the sky is the limit. I have no doubt that American ingenuity will continue to make improvements as it has done, without the government driving what industries should benefit.
14. What are your thoughts on Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and the rise of anti-Semitism in the Democrat Party?
FAULKNER: The Democratic Party’s tolerance of anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts is absolutely despicable. There is no excuse. We need to call on politicians like Reps. Omar and Tlaib and the leaders of their party to be better.
15. What areas of the Republican Party’s platform do you think needs to be addressed, and/or changed?
FAULKNER: The Republican Party has pushed for many issues that have a huge impact on minority communities, but the party has had a hard time reaching these audiences because too few of its leaders come from these communities. As America grows and changes, we cannot allow the Democratic Party to paint themselves as the party of the people, when they do very little that actually has an impact on the people. The Democratic Party has made it its business to tell us what we should think, say, and do, and that is not America. Our individual freedoms are liberties are a key pillar of the Republican Party and something we all want. We must make that message clear.
16. When you are not working, what do you do for fun?
FAULKNER: I enjoy spending time with my family. Our girls are very active and I love that. I coach their youth basketball teams and no matter how stressful life can be, no matter what happens during the day, once I put my whistle around my neck and become Coach, it just brings me joy like no other. I also enjoy working outside at our home in rural Loudoun County. Whether it’s cutting grass or chopping wood, there is always work to be done.