When I was in high school, a storm hit the Southwest Missouri community along Table Rock Lake that I call home. The news coverage of the storm included a story about how a dock was lifted by the wind and thrown on top of another. Having recently started a small business working on docks during the summers, I saw an opportunity to help our lake community and take my business to the next level.

I had a little experience and even less money. I was however, full of entrepreneurial spirit. So I got in my truck and drove to meet the owners of the damaged docks and ask if I could rebuild them. After some negotiation, they agreed. It was a big step for my small business that has been in operation ever since. Today, our company employs more than fifty hardworking Americans. These jobs help support families in our rural community, send kids to college, and create opportunities for future generations.

My small business experience is the primary reason I ran for office and why I have grave concerns about the growing acceptance of socialism in America. Democratic candidates and politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praise the virtues of socialism and proudly promote a socialist agenda. These programs would ensure a complete government takeover of health care and eliminate the free market system that has made America the greatest country in the world. They have designed environmental policies that would strangle small businesses, farms, and factories. Their “free” college plans would bankrupt our states and devalue our education system.

Most importantly, their socialist agenda would represent a fundamental shift in our way of life. We would move away from liberty and free enterprise and, instead, create a culture of dependence on government. Risk would be punished and inaction rewarded. With a socialist economy, incentives to create new things and develop new ideas would cease to exist. As a result, the promise of our American Dream would no longer remain true.

America was founded to protect individual liberties. For centuries, we have been a beacon of opportunity where risk-taking and entrepreneurship are promoted. President Reagan once said, “freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” We must stop socialism, even incrementally. We must defend, at every turn, our free markets and our free country. As a father, a small business owner, and as your Treasurer, that is what I am doing and will continue to do.