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A high-ranking U.S. Secret Service agent who was tasked with protecting President Obama and President George W. Bush, Dan Bongino gave up his lucrative career after watching political cronyism up close.
He's now urging Americans to do much more than vote if they want to see positive changes to the American system of government.
Bongino served as an officer for the New York Police Department before joining the Secret Service in 1999. He later became part of the protective detail for Bush and Obama. Distressed at the way the nation was headed, Bongino left his job in 2011 and won a crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary in Maryland in 2012 before losing to incumbent Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin. He is now a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland's sixth congressional district.
While Bongino said he didn't witness much of Obama's actions on policy, working at the White House as the health-care debate intensified forced him to enter the public arena.
"A particularly acute incident was being behind the scenes as a Secret Service agent and just seeing the carousel of insider interests coming in and out of the White House as Obamacare was being passed and just the horror of the American people actually believing that this was meant to give them better access to health care," Bongino said.
"It was an insider-rigged system from the start. There's no question about it. If there was one moment that was a tip of the spear more than others, that really frustrated me. I knew I had to do something and leave it all behind and take on a bigger cause."
Bongino said another incident that crystallized the "bubble" mentality in Washington came while he and other agents provided security for a trip Obama made to Afghanistan. As Obama prepared to meet with various military leaders, a Delta Force officer waited patiently in full gear to have his turn with the commander in chief only to have an administration staffer request that the officer disarm before entering the meeting.
"I laughed at him asking me to tell this guy to leave his weapon at the door," Bongino said. "The utter absurdity of it really sums up in one story what the book tried to get at, this insulated insider atmosphere that has really destroyed what was the best system of government we've ever had, which really represented the interests of the people."
"At least we used to have one side fighting against this insiderism, this cronyism. Now, I feel the real battle is not Democrats or Republicans anymore. I think there are weak Republicans and Democrats all in cahoots together to prolong this insider system. I think the real battle now is government elitist fois gras for lunch crowd versus American populists, just regular middle-class Americans trying to get the government to leave them alone. I think they've really ruptured that relationship," Bongino said.
"My diagnosis is that (we have a) polluted D.C. cesspool of insiders that are really corrupting. It's not the people that get up and go to work in the morning that are causing the problem. It's these bow tie-wearing bureaucrats that are really corrupting the system and making what was a representative government only representative of the special interests and that interest isn't yours."
The solution, according to Bongino, is a very engaged citizenry that will dedicate its time and resources to restoring America's greatness.
"Voting is not enough. It's not. You haven't done your duty by voting. If you're not calling your congressman, if you're not sending letters to the office, if you're not volunteering for campaigns or volunteering for a cause, if you're not donating money to a cause or a campaign, even a dollar, then folks you're not part of the (solution), you're the problem," Bongino said.
"We need you. We need your voice. The left has been experts at this for years at whittling away our freedom. Voting is not enough. I cannot say that enough. You have to do. Talk is cheap. Action matters. Action is what changes the world. Talk is only good if it changes action."
Bongino is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. John Delaney in Maryland's most competitive district. The seat was held by the GOP for years until redistricting made it more favorable for the Democrats in 2012. He said the district officially leans left by just a couple of points, but he expects to have much larger volunteer forces and be very competitive in the money fight.
Now Bongino is speaking out and holding nothing back. Read "Life Inside the Bubble" and find out why this Secret Service agent, who swore to take a bullet for the president, left it all behind to "take a bullet" for the American people.
See what Bongino suggests for a solution:
And hear his explanation for "Life Inside the Bubble."