His grandparents were immigrants, his dad worked 10- and 12-hour days to provide for his family, he served his country in Iraq, and now he's hoping to serve Pennsylvania in Washington.
Army veteran Andrew Lewis announced his candidacy to represent Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District on Oct. 12. A campaign that is largely based on three powerful words: the American Dream. He told IJR:
“I believe the concept of the American Dream is foundational to the United States of America as a country. The promise of America is that no matter who you are or where you come from, you get to forge your own future based on the decisions you make. That’s the promise of America.”
As the grandson of immigrants, the son of a drywall finisher, and a man who began his adult life in the military and ended up co-owning a small, family business, Lewis has experienced the land of opportunity firsthand.
“I come from very modest and humble blue-collar roots, so I understand what everyday Americans are going through in their jobs and their communities,” he explained. “Their story is my story, so I’m effectively able to represent them.”
Lewis added that America's purpose is to provide a place where “we're all created equal,” and are the masters of our own fate. However, it's something the country is losing sight of.
The Army veteran explained to IJR that as the government gets bigger and Washington uses regulations to tell everyone — especially young people — that “this is how you're going to live your life,” that dream is weakened.
“It takes more paperwork to start a business these days than it does to collect unemployment,” he noted. Lewis added that the American Dream doesn't have to include crippling student debt and pointed to his own experience employing skilled trade workers.
As an advocate for “timeless conservative values,” Lewis wants to restore America's roots by bringing the power back to the people, he said.
“The whole point of our country was to set up a system in which the individual is sovereign and the government is limited and derives its power by the consent of the governed,” Lewis explained. “That fundamental idea of a government of, for and by the people.”
If he makes it to Washington, he'll also be bringing the unique experience of combat with him. He told IJR:
“Any veteran — especially veterans who deployed to combat — have made life and death decisions from a very young age. They have this staggering amount of responsibility.”
He noted that by age 19 or 20, he was on dismounted patrols, and in Iraq was responsible for finding IEDs with metal detectors. He shared the weight that experience brings.
“You’re a kid,” he said. “You know that every day you wake up could be your last day, and you still operate under those high-stress circumstances with professionalism and get the job done.”
In the face of North Korea and continued terror threats, Lewis explained that America needs “competent hands and people who understand national security and foreign policy issues.”
He also believes we need people with courage — a quality that veterans are uniquely qualified to provide.
“Leaders with the courage to really make the tough decisions,” he said. “Anyone who served in the military knows and has demonstrated that they have the courage to put their country first.”
At 30 years old, Lewis has served his country, operated a small business, and built a life with his wife and three sons. But he doesn't take credit for his successes; he points to his parents raising him with “a strong faith in God” and the understanding that if “you work hard you can accomplish anything in this country.”
While he may be an “outsider,” like other politicians, Lewis has an ambitious list of what he'd like to accomplish in D.C. However, if he had to choose only one, he told IJR it would be term limits, which would, in turn, reduce the size of the government and help bring back the American Dream.