Not so long ago, the American West was fertile ground for conservative thought, action, and leadership. It was the region that remained most faithful to the nation’s founding principles of personal freedom, rugged individualism, and economic freedom. It prided itself on being the nation’s political frontier, a place that maintained its fiercely devoted embrace of the pioneering spirit that gave rise to America’s continental expansion and ultimately, its superpower status.
Out of that tradition came some of the brightest leaders of the Republican party and conservative movement of the 20th century: Richard Nixon from California, Barry Goldwater from Arizona, Ronald Reagan from California. They were the polar opposite of the eastern Republicans, who were usually Ivy League-educated, establishment to the core, and more closely aligned with liberalism than with conservatism. By contrast, the conservatives who were of the West represented American values that were as endlessly dynamic as the region itself. And that’s why——once the countercultural revolution of the Vietnam-era began in California—-those Western conservatives realized they had a responsibility to stand and fight for a different set of principles.
It was largely the massive government overreach of the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Society of President Lyndon Johnson—-as well as the unpopularity of the poorly-executed Vietnam war and the Constitutional crisis of Watergate—-that pushed the political pendulum in the opposite direction. The American people had had enough of oppressive government butting in in every nook and cranny of their lives—-and the abuses that went along with it. They were ready…for change.
And change is what they voted for in 1980, when they elected Ronald Reagan president in a landslide and re-elected him resoundingly four years later. The Reagan Revolution was a direct rejection of leftist Big Government and a proactive choice of smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, and a resumption of American superpower.
We may be at a similar moment, a moment which the West may very well lead yet again.
As it was in the 1960s and much of the 1970s, the federal government today is out of control, crushing freedom everywhere in its path. Socialized medicine. Effectively open borders leading to swarms of illegal immigrants entering—-and staying—-in the country with impunity and draining public resources from education to health care. Confiscatory taxes. Uncontrollable federal spending. An unfathomable eighteen trillion dollars in federal debt. Gun control. Land grabs. Suffocating environmental regulations on everything from coal to water flows to protect the endangered delta smelt, leading to severe droughts in California—-which in turn lead to lower agricultural production. The resistance to fracking and the Keystone pipeline and other no-brainer ways to get us to true energy independence. Higher gas and electricity prices.
These catastrophic policies effect the entire nation, of course, but it’s those in the West who largely bear their most destructive consequences. That’s why the West may once again lead the way to restoring America to the principles and policies that made—-and kept—-us great.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, Governors Susannah Martinez of New Mexico and Jan Brewer of Arizona, Congressmen Louie Gohmert of Texas and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, leading Republican lights like California State Assemblyman Tom Donnelly, Republican candidates Mia Love in Nevada, Joni Ernst in Iowa, and Rep. Cory Gardner in Colorado, former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, among others, have had enough of the leftist assault and are fearlessly out front in the movement for conservative change.
From those leaders in the West, we may very well see the next Ronald Reagan emerge from the burning wreckage of left-coast leftism to bring us back to the nation we once were—-and the one we could be again.
Monica Crowley, the Online Opinion Editor of The Washington Times, is a respected foreign policy analyst who holds a doctorate in international relations from Columbia University, is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and served as Foreign Policy Assistant to former President Richard Nixon during from 1990 until his death in 1994.