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Jesse Ventura on Principles & Values

Former Independent MN Governor


2003: Self-portrait as knight in armor on stallion

Ventura abandoned the mansion in his final year as governor, complaining the Legislature would not provide him with adequate security. His 22-year-old son Tyrel lived there alone for a while, using it for late-night parties until Ventura fired the staff en masse and carted off his belongings.

The Star Tribune noted the new Pawlenty First Family's decorating style was homier than the "flamboyant Venturas." The library no longer featured a portrait of Ventura in knight's armor on a white stallion.

Source: Sam's Club Republican, by J.A. McClure, p. 38-39 , May 10, 2010

Patriotism means wondering if were told the truth

This book will delve into a number of things you don't see on TV or read about in the papers. The fact is, the media--the fourth branch of government that our founding fathers anticipated would speak truth to power and keep our democracy on track --has at least since the assassination of President Kennedy systematically ignored any "conspiracy theory" that might rock the Establishment's boat.

Clearly, there's something going on in our national psyche that the New York Times and the Washington Post don't want to examine. I'm tired of being told that anybody who questions the status quo is part of the disaffected, alienated element of our society that ought to wake up and salute the flag. Maybe being patriotic is about raising the curtain and wondering whether we've really been told the truth about things like September 11.

Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p. ix-x , Mar 8, 2010

Stormed out from Paul Wellstone's memorial service

Liberals behaved so abominably at Senator Paul Wellstone's memorial service, showering Republican senators "with boos & catcalls from the crowd," that a disgusted Jesse Ventura stormed out. That's according to former Democratic senator Tom Daschle, who also said that that audience's behavior was so "inappropriate and wrong" that on the plane back to Washington that night, he and his fellow Democratic senators Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan agreed "we were going to pay a price for what had just happened."
Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.192 , Nov 10, 2009

Supports libertarianism with a small "l"

Describing himself as a libertarian with a small "I"--liberal on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues---ex-Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura today set forth an independent platform that included ending the "so-called war on drugs" by legalizing marijuana and bringing home all American troops from military bases around the world--"unless these countries want to compensate us for guarding their borders."
Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.307 , Apr 1, 2008

Enlisted in Navy SEALs during Vietnam

I ended up getting talked into enlisting. It was Sept. 11, 1969. My mom was especially upset about it. My dad opposed it, too. I think one of the driving forces, subconsciously, that led me to enlist was that every other member of my family was a war veteran.

My father had 7 Bronze Stars for battles in WWII. He fought in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, came up through Anzio in Italy, and finished in Berlin. My mother Bernice was an Army nurse in North Africa. My brother Jan was in Vietnam. Not that any of my family would have cared, but I must have wondered how I could sit down with them at the dinner table: three veterans and one non-veteran. Especially in a time of war.

The Navy SEALs were created by Pres. Kennedy. SEAL stands for Sea-Air-Land, an elite team trained to carry out clandestine missions abroad. Basic training is called BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL). It lasted 22 weeks. It's set up so that, literally, only the strong survive. There was an 80% dropout rate.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 10 , Apr 1, 2008

Met wife Terry while working as a bouncer in a bar

I was working as a bouncer at the Rusty Nail, a bar in a Minneapolis suburb. Terry showed up on a Ladies' Night. She was voluptuous, with long brown hair and the most amazingly beautiful eyes and smile. She'd already been carded by a cop at the door, and now she was headed my way. I had to say SOMETHING to her.

"Can I see your ID please?" I blurted out.

"But I just showed HIM," she said, pointing at the cop.

"I don't care how old you are, I just want to know your name," I said, feeling kind of proud of such a good line. Well, she went through her purse until she found her ID again, presented it to me without a word.

Terry: "This was the first time my girlfriends & I had ever gone to a suburban bar. When I first saw Jesse, he appeared to be the biggest thing in the entire place. I couldn't get that fellow at the door out of my head. Finally I said, 'I'm going upstairs.' My girlfriend said, 'You're gonna go flirt with that guy and leave us down here; real nice.' But I couldn't help myself."

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 15-16 , Apr 1, 2008

Taught "Wrestling Then Politics: The Perfect Preparation"

At Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2004, I called my class "Wrestling, Then Politics: The Perfect Preparation for Serving." People thought it was a joke but, when the class was over, they realized it hit the nail right on the head.
  1. In wrestling, you have to be able to ad-lib and think on your feet. In politics, you need to be able to come up with an answer that doesn't destroy you.
  2. You had to sell yourself as a wrestler. Well, in politics, you have to sell yourself similarly to convince people to vote for you, & allow you to take their tax dollars.
  3. In both wrestling and politics, you travel a lot--especially to small towns. Wrestling is the only pro sport that goes to those places.
  4. Finally, the wrestler is often not in public the same person he is in private, and I think it's the same with the politician. Was I really Jesse "The Body" Ventura, a guy who struts around with bleached blond hair, 6 earrings, and feather boas? Of course not. That's a total creation.
Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 25-26 , Apr 1, 2008

Chose stage name after Jesse James and California town

Pro wrestling had heroes and villains, and I'd already decided I was going to be the "bad guy". In a sport where Gorgeous George, Gorilla Monsoon, and the Crusher were some of the big names, I knew that plain old Jim Janos wasn't going to cut the mustard. I'd always liked the name Jesse, maybe because of Jesse James. I looked on a map of California and my eyes landed on a highway that ran north of L.A. called Ventura. Jesse Ventura, the Surfer. Now that had a ring to it.

I paraded around while the people got what they came for: They hated my guts. I was earning between $35 and $65 per night.

In 1978, when an announcer started referring to me as Jesse "The Body" and the nickname stuck, I joined one of the bigger leagues.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 27-29 , Apr 1, 2008

Grew with sport of wrestling as "bad guy" character

I've often referred to pro wrestling as "ballet with violence." Yes, it's staged, as far as who's going to be the winner, but it's not fake. It's really an art form, and one that requires careful discipline. When you smash your opponent with a folding chair, you've got to know how NOT to hurt him. When you get body-slammed, it's painful, no way around it. But you get used to it.

In this particular dance, it's the bad guy who leads--and who gets to be the most creative. I developed a move called "The Body-breaker," where I'd pick the other guy up across my shoulder and shake him relentlessly while I jumped up and down. "The most brutal man in wrestling!" I'd yell at the crowds.

Well, in the '80's, the sport of wrestling became huge. Before long, we were accepted by mainstream America. The first WrestleMania, in 1985, sold out Madison Square Garden. I was called "wrestling Goldilocks" and featured alongside basketball superstars. My tag-team events were earning $3,000 a match.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 29-30 , Apr 1, 2008

Personal hero is Muhammad Ali, who also shocked the world

[On election night], I'd said this: "You know, it was back in '64 that a hero and an idol of mine beat Sonny Liston. He shocked the world. Well, now it's 1998 and the American drama lives on in Minnesota cause we SHOCKED THE WORLD!" Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, had been that hero and idol of mine growing up. So I was ecstatic when Liston failed to come out for the 8th round. I always remembered Clay screaming, "We shocked the world!" after the fight, and that's all I could think of when I went out for my acceptance speech.

At the Capitol, a big gift-wrapped box [arrived]; inside was a pair of red Everlast boxing gloves and, written in magic marker on one of them was: "To Governor Jesse Ventura--You Shocked the World. Muhammad Ali." I was stunned. Muhammad was watching TV the night I won.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 61-62 , Apr 1, 2008

2000: Offered to run as John McCain's independent VP

The Reform Party became eligible for almost $13 million in federal funding for the 2000 presidential election. I'd made a 4-year promise to fulfill my obligation to the state of MN. I didn't believe that, all of a sudden and for your own personal political gain, you start campaigning for another job. There was only one person, I decided, that I would break my promise for. At the time, it was John McCain.

When Senator McCain came to see me early in 2000, he had just begun taking on George W. Bush. I was supporting McCain, because I believed then that a veteran, like him, and a moderate--which he no longer is today--was what the country needed.

I looked McCain in the eye and broached a possibility. "Senator," I said, "if you will quit the Republican Party, I will break my promise to MN and I will run with you. You for president, me for vice president. And we will win the 2000 election."

He smiled and said, "Well, I'd love to have you on board, but I can't quit the Republican Party."

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 78-79 , Apr 1, 2008

Co-starred with Gov. Schwarzenegger in two action films

I played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the sci-fi movie "Predator." Kill the alien: that was the basic premise of the film, which ended up making about $60 million in box office in 1987. I was part of the commando team in pursuit, chewing tobacco and carrying a machine gun into the bush. Even though the alien bumped me off halfway through the movie, it wasn't long before I uttered a famous line that Fox Studios even made T-shirts of: "I Ain't Got Time to Bleed." That also became the title of my first book. The best thing about doing "Predator" was becoming good friends with Arnold. Who would have imagined then that we'd both end up as governors?

We enjoyed each other's company so much that Arnold made sure I got a part in his next project, "The Running Man." This time, I played Captain Freedom, an egomaniac ex-wrestler who's doing color commentary for a sadistic game show in an American police state in 2017. Some of that hit a little close to home.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.134-136 , Apr 1, 2008

Taught a semester at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

From the Kennedy School of Government, came a letter asking if I'd like to become a visiting fellow at Harvard. They offered me as little as a week or as much as the entire semester. I was dumbstruck. Harvard had produced 5 American presidents and 43 Nobel Prize winners. And they wanted me?! I was even to be given a stipend, and they'd provide living quarters. Amazing! Terry and I agreed that I should go the whole semester.

So I went off to college. I parallel this to only a few other times in my life. Becoming a Navy frogman. Driving off from Minneapolis to become a pro wrestler. Getting cast to do "Predator" with Schwarzenegger. And winning the governorship.

I'd been to Harvard once before, more than 4 years earlier. After getting elected governor, the Kennedy School had invited me to speak at a "Pizza and Politics" evening.

I'd expected Harvard to be a stuffy, arrogant place. But when I got there that day and saw how bright everyone was--what could be better? I loved it.

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.245-246 , Apr 1, 2008

Political “horse races” ignore the issues

We’ve come to think of our elections the same way we think about sports. We focus on competition and winning. How many of us actually know what the most popular candidates stand for in any given election? Why isn’t anybody asking what these candidates plan to do if they get elected? Doesn’t it matter?

When elections turn into horse races and popularity contests, the candidates who end up rising to the top are not necessarily the ones who have the brightest ideas about how to govern our nation. Sometimes they’re the ones who’ll do anything to win.

Candidates are applying for jobs as public servants, and we, the voters, and the ones doing the hiring. If we’re going to hire the right person for the job, we need to focus on the candidates’ qualifications, their understanding of the issues that matter, and their plans for handling those issues. If any given candidate is too busy trashing his or her opponents to focus on the issues, then they’ve just told us they’re not qualified for the job

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p. 30-1 , Jul 2, 2000

Parties need ideological base as well as grassroots

The Reform party failed because it was formed the wrong way. It was built around Ross Perot; every facet of its construction was designed to keep him in power. Parties that are built on anything other than solid ideologies can’t survive for long. Parties must be grown from the ground up, like plants, not from the top down like corporations. Parties build their steam little by little, from grassroots movements and from small local elections.
Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.249 , Jul 2, 2000

Religious Right & extreme left are both “morality brokers”

Morality brokers come in two sets of extremes: “religious fundamentalists” who try to legislate morality and “extreme liberals,” many of whom seem to be so against any form of civil constraint that they even want to do away with laws that protect everyone. The extreme Right tends to focus too much on ideology and not enough on ideas: the extreme Left tends to focus too much on rights and not enough on responsibilities. Ironically, both extremes can pose threats to our freedom. Fundamentalists threaten our freedom to practice the belief system that’s the most meaningful for us by trying to impose their own beliefs onto our social, legal, and political systems. And those who advocate making even heinous crimes “value free” threaten our safety by failing to hold criminals accountable.
Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p. 49 , Jul 2, 2000

Considers himself a moderate libertarian

You know that I consider myself a libertarian. I support minimal government interference in people’s lives. But what sets me, and most other moderate libertarians, apart from the folks on the extreme Left is that I do believe that government has a role to play in controlling antisocial behavior.

I believe that government’s proper role is limited to judging behavior that is harmful to people and property. Invariably, where the mega-libertarians screw up is carrying their argument for the rights of one person or group so far that they end up trampling on the rights of another. The right to swing your fist must end where your neighbor’s nose begins.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p. 53 , Jul 2, 2000

Independent Party, not Reform Party

Having watched the national Reform Party in recent months, I have concluded that it is best for the Reform Party of Minnesota to disaffiliate from the national Reform Party and reclaim its original Independence Party name. I urge the Minnesota Reform Party delegates to take this action at their earliest opportunity.

The Minnesota Reform Party success story stands in stark contrast to the national Reform Party. When we find ourselves caught up in an unproductive endeavor, it is wise to cut our losses and move on. It’s time for the Minnesota Reform Party to disconnect from the national party. It’s time to shift our energy and skills from unproductive national party activities to highly productive state party activities.

I realize this letter will come as bad news to many good people in other states who were hoping the Minnesota seed of success would take root in the national Reform Party. I too am sorry that did not happen. But it’s hard to grow a rose in a desert.

Source: Letter Regarding National Parties , Feb 11, 2000

I didn’t need this job (as governor)

I didn’t need this job. I ran for governor to find out if the American dream still exists in anyone’s heart other than mine. I’m living proof that the myths aren’t true. The candidate with the most money isn’t always the one who wins. You don’t have to be a career politician to serve in public office. You don’t have to be well-connected. You don’t even have to be a Democrat or a Republican. You can stand on your own two feet and speak your mind, because if people like where you’re coming from, they will vote you in. The will of the people is still the most powerful force in our government.

Politics is not my life. I have a career in radio and another career in film. I have a wife who is the sweetest person in the world and two kids who are growing up into terrific, well-rounded people. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in politics. When I’m finished with my term as governor, I’m going back to the life that’s waiting for me in the private sector.

Source: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, p. 1 & 11 , Jan 1, 1999

Voters want honesty; he provides it

During my transition period, I brought in 13 people who were either first-time voters or who hadn’t voted in five consecutive elections. I asked each of them a question: Now that you’ve come into the system, how do we keep you involved?

Their answers were very clear, very honest. They said, It’s the same story every four years. Whenever an election’s coming up, all the politicians come out and give you the same song and dance about the same issues, all the way up until they get elected. Then you don’t hear any more from them until it’s time for them to get elected again. We’re tired of it. If you want to keep us involved, don’t tell us what you think we want to hear, tell us the truth.

There’s a great need in our government right now for honesty. I speak my mind. You might not always like what you hear, but you’re gonna hear it anyway. I call it like I see it; I tell the truth. And if I don’t know something, I’ll say so. Then I’ll try to find the answer.

Source: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, p. 7-8 , Jan 1, 1999

Fiscally conservative and socially liberal

I am not a career politician. I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican. I’m a working man with commonsense ideas and goals. I describe myself politically as fiscally conservative and socially moderate-to-liberal.

We need to keep a permanently tight rein on government spending. I believe working people should keep as much of their money as possible, and I believe they should have a more direct say in how it’s spent. But I don’t believe we need the government’s help as much as some think we do. That belief sets me apart from the Democrats, since their way of dealing with everything is to tax and spend.

I also believe that government has no business telling us how we should live our lives. I think our lifestyle choices should be left up to us. What we do in our private lives is none of the government’s business. That position rules out the Republican Party for me. As the clich‚ says, “I don’t want Democrats in the boardroom and I don’t want Republicans in the bedroom.”

Source: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, p. 13-4 , Jan 1, 1999

Two traditional parties are out-of-control monsters

I view the traditional two parties as in some ways very evil. They’ve become monsters that are out of control. The two parties don’t have in mind what’s best for Minnesota. The only things that are important to them are their own agendas and their pork. Government’s become just a battle of power between the two parties. But now that Minnesota has a governor who truly comes from the private sector, a lot of light’s going to be shed on how the system is unfair to people outside the two parties.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.251 , Jan 1, 1999

Does not plan to run for president; but won’t rule it out

Don’t look for me to make a run for the White House. I don’t want that. I see what happens to everyone who takes that office: They all go in so virile and young, and then in the course of 4 years they age 20. I can get by being governor, but being president would be too much stress, too much responsibility--I’d be the most powerful person in the world! And I don’t want to do that to Terry. I won’t say absolutely not, but I wouldn’t put any money on there ever being a Jesse “The Prez” Ventura.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.257 , Jan 1, 1999

Problem is with fundamentalist fanatics, not religion

I’d like to clarify [my comments published in Playboy] about religious people being weak-minded. I didn’t mean all religious people. I don’t have any problem with the vast majority of religious folks. I count myself among them, more or less. But I believe because it makes sense to me, not because I think it can be proven. There are lots of people out there who think they know the truth about God and religion, but does anybody really know for sure? That’s why the founding fathers built freedom o religious belief into the structure of this nation, so that everybody could make up their minds for themselves.

But I do have a problem with the people who think they have some right to try to impose their beliefs on others. I hate what the fundamentalist fanatics are doing to our country. It seems as though, if everybody doesn’t accept their version of reality, that somehow invalidates it for them. Everybody must believe the same things they do. That’s what I find weak and destructive.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.290 , Jan 1, 1999

Big Plan: smart government and self-sufficiency

I kept all of my campaign promises: I got Minnesotans their tax rebate, I lowered taxes for working folks, I cut classroom size and increased education funding, and I started laying the groundwork for long-term plans.

The “Big Plan” for Minnesota, which goes into effect in 2001, has three phases. The first deals with smart growth principles: focusing on urban renewal instead of adding to suburban sprawl. The second phase is called “Self-Sufficient People: You’re Gonna Make It On Your Own.” Remember that old saying about giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day, or teaching him to fish and feeding him for a lifetime? We’re going to be turning Minnesota’s social programs into fishing schools, instead of free fish markets. The third phase of the Big Plan, “Service, Not Systems,” is where we get to reform wasteful government: we’ll trim the fat from government spending, and curb excessive lawmaking with my “law review every fourth year” plan.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.280-4, “Big Plan” , Jan 1, 1999

Wanted to be mayor & governor; doesn’t want to be president

About 450 of us signed a petition stating that the proposed development was unacceptable [because it would destroy a local wetland]. We were voted down by the city council seven to nothing. That the whole council seemed in such perfect alliance seemed more than fishy.

I thought, “Don’t we elect these people to represent us, the populace? It don’t seem like they’re doing that.” The council’s voting record was 7-0, 7-0, 7-0 on every issue! They weren’t even letting other people talk unless they agreed with them.

I believe I was destined to become mayor of Brooklyn Park. And maybe, by fulfilling that destiny to become mayor, I sealed my destiny to become governor. I hope I’m not destined to become president. I don’t say that with arrogance-- it’s only that everything seemed to fall so easily into place in both of my other races. But I truly wanted to be mayor and governor--I don’t want the presidency. I’ll never say never, because you never know what will happen. But 99% of me says no.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.187-90 , Jan 1, 1999

Member of Midwestern Governors' Association.

Ventura is a member of the Midwestern Governors' Conference:

The Midwestern Governors’ Conference (MGC) was created in December, 1962. The members of the conference include the governors of 13 Midwestern states. The MGC is a non-profit, bipartisan organization that brings together top state leaders to work cooperatively on important regional public policy issues.

The purpose of the Midwestern Governors’ Conference is “to foster regional development, to attain greater efficiency in state administration, to facilitate interstate cooperation and improve intergovernmental relationships, and to provide a medium for the exchange of views and experiences on subjects of general importance to the people of the Midwestern states.” In pursuit of these objectives, the conference has, through the years, established a wide array of committees, task forces and study groups charged with investigating and reporting on various issues of regional concern.

Recent subject areas addressed by various MGC committees and working groups have included agriculture, economic development, trade, child support enforcement, worker retention and recruitment, and tourism promotion. The results of these efforts have ranged from written reports to cooperative efforts. The conference also addresses these and other issues through policy statements and resolutions.

The conference also seeks to meet its goal of providing a forum for the exchange of information by sponsoring periodic meetings. In addition to the annual meetings, the conference has occasionally sponsored special meetings and regional roundtables devoted to specific issues such as international trade, state anti-drug strategies, and child support enforcement efforts. The MGC is increasingly concentrating on federal programs and policies and their impact on the region. This growing focus led to the addition (in late 1998) of a Washington-based staff person to monitor federal issues for the MGC.

Source: MGC website, www.MidwestGovernors.org/home.htm 01-MGC1 on Sep 9, 2001

Member, National Governors Association/Economic Development.

Ventura is a member of the National Governors Association:

The National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington’s most respected public policy organizations. NGA provides governors with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing policy reports on innovative state programs and hosting networking seminars for state government executive branch officials. The NGA Center for Best Practices focuses on state innovations and best practices on issues that range from education and health to technology, welfare reform, and the environment. NGA also provides management and technical assistance to both new and incumbent governors.

Since their initial meeting in 1908 to discuss interstate water problems, governors have worked through the National Governors Association to deal with issues of public policy and governance relating to the states. The association’s ongoing mission is to support the work of the governors by providing a bipartisan forum to help shape and implement national policy and to solve state problems.

Fortune Magazine recently named NGA as one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying organizations due, in large part, to NGA’s ability to lead the debate on issues that impact states. From welfare reform to education, from the historic tobacco settlement to wireless communications tax policies, NGA has influenced major public policy issues while maintaining the strength of our Federalist system of government.

There are three standing committees—on Economic Development and Commerce, Human Resources, and Natural Resources—that provide a venue for governors to examine and develop policy positions on key state and national issues.

[Note: NGA positions represent a majority view of the nation’s governors, but do not necessarily reflect a governor’s individual viewpoint. Governors vote on NGA policy positions but the votes are not made public.]

Source: National Governors Association web site www.NGA.org 01-NGA0 on Jan 1, 2001

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