by Elliot Pierce

A few years ago, when Colton Moore ran an ultra-aggressive, ill-advised and failed run to unseat Jeff Mullis in Georgia State Senate District 53, I learned he was a big Teddy Roosevelt fan. Moore showed his affection for the old roughrider again this year when, thanks to the retirement of Senator Mullis, he got the unexpected chance to improve from his 20 percent point drubbing in 2020. In an open primary this past May, Moore won by a razor-thin margin. And again, during his campaign, he cited TR frequently and mentioned how much the former president influenced his thinking. Both men were elected to the state legislature at the same age. They both like the west and praise a virtue-filled frontier lifestyle. In that same vein, and as the colonel and president who believed one should talk softly and carry a big stick when living a strenuous life, Moore also believes in this philosophy of life and politics. After following Moore for two campaigns, his admiration for TR is easy to see.

At this point, you are probably wondering why I am talking about the fondness the incoming state senator from the 53rd district has for a president who has been dead for a century. The reason is that Moore is very much like Roosevelt. Not only are they alike, but a recent item in the news concerning Moore echoes a lot of Theodore Roosevelt and has lasting effects.

The recent news about Moore reminds me of an important and similar event from Roosevelt’s past. On Aug. 16, State Senator elect Colton Moore wrote to Governor Kemp asking the governor to commission Moore into the Georgia National Guard in order to lead troops to the southern border in Texas to stop illegal immigrant crossings brought on by the Biden administration border policies.

Moore’s letter and the unusual request for a military commission stem from recent news about charter buses carrying migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. that have been found stopping along the route and encouraging passengers to disembark so they can continue the journey. A charter bus went through rural Dade County, Moore’s home county. It has since been discovered that the charter buses are part of Governor Abbot’s Operation Lone Star initiative, and Governor Kemp took action to stop the drop offs.

Many might find it weird or offensive that a politician with no military experience would seek a commission like this. What business has he leading enlisted soldiers?

Moore’s request is similar to a request Teddy Roosevelt made for a military commission in 1898, just before the Spanish American War. Roosevelt got it and went on to serve with valor in Cuba. Roosevelt, however, had three years of national guard experience, and he requested to be made a lieutenant colonel and that a superior colonel accompany him.

As of yet, the governor’s office has not responded. Since Moore’s comments to Chattanoogan.com on the issue were particularly harsh and critical of the governor of his own party, and that criticism was conspicuously absent from Moore’s letter to the governor, I do not think it will happen.

It is no secret I have been critical of Moore more than any other in the past. Nevertheless, Moore’s affinity and adoration for Teddy Roosevelt’s virtues of duty is admirable. In fact, I know exactly how Moore can live up to the ideals he seeks to emulate and conjure from the hero of the Battle of San Juan. Moore is only 28. He is well educated. He seems to be in the prime of his physical life.

Colton Moore is a perfect candidate to serve in the Georgia National Guard. In fact, here’s the link: https://ga.ng.mil/Portals/49/G1/officer_recruiting.html

I know of no better way for Moore to stay true to the values and ideals he touts. Moreover, Theodore Roosevelt would not only advocate that he enlist but also demand it. In 1898, when friends were questioning why Roosevelt would put himself in danger when he was 39 years old and had a sick wife and six children at home, Roosevelt wrote of his commission request:

“When a man takes such a position, he ought to be willing to make his words good by his deeds unless there is some very strong reason to the contrary. He should pay with his body.

“I do not wish to rise on any man’s shoulders; that I hope to be given every chance that my deeds and abilities warranted; but that I do not wish what I do not earn, and that above all, I do not wish to hold any position where anyone else did the work.”

In the past, I have said Moore is all show and a performative politician uninterested in little other than what will elevate him and add to his personal aggrandizement and status. He now has the opportunity to prove me wrong.

What can voters really believe about Moore if he refuses to earn the duty he has requested? This incident should be offensive to all those who did enlist and earned their rightful honors if Moore does not wish to enlist and simply wishes to be given a officer’s commission to lead troops. In the event that he shirks from enlisting in the Georgia National Guard, it will be abundantly evident that everything he says is merely noise and in pursuit of yet more self-glorification.

What will he do?

Elliot Pierce