- - Wednesday, July 12, 2017


There are conservatives, and then there are Western conservatives.

Western conservatives think differently about the world. Our wisdom, forged in hard work and steeled by grit, helped settle the West and could provide some much-needed common sense to the rest of the nation.

Take for instance this old cowboy proverb: “The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with watches you shave his face in the mirror every morning.” We need to stop being a nation that blames others and expects handouts. Instead, we need to take responsibility for our own actions. We are losing our sense of self-reliance and self-responsibility.

Or, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing,” a quote from Theodore Roosevelt. Recent findings show that a record number of young men are not participating in the workforce and are instead staying home to play video games. These young men are missing out on the satisfaction of a hard day’s work.

Or, “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back into your pocket.” Reports are showing that half of Americans don’t have a retirement account and nearly 70 percent have less than $1,000 in savings. We need to become a nation of savers and we need to hold our government accountable to a balanced budget.

Or, this great wisdom from Annie Oakley: “I would like to see every woman know how to handle firearms as naturally as they know how to handle babies.” The world is a safer place with armed women.

Or, “Never miss a good chance to shut up.” That one is for the liberal media.

Or, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” That one is for the Democrats.

Or, one my favorites from John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death — and saddling up anyway.” I’ll never forget the 2015 Western Conservative Summit when then-Colorado Christian University President Bill Armstrong took the stage. Earlier that week, a string of Supreme Court cases were decided in a liberal direction. There was defeatism in the room and it was clear on the faces of many of the attendees. President Armstrong walked onto the stage and boldly declared in his big, booming voice, “Now is the time, patriots, to mount our horses and ride into the bullets!” A loud cheer erupted as the crowd rose to their feet. We needed a word of western encouragement in 2015. Look at how much conservatives have accomplished in just two years.

Western conservatives are optimists. There is always another adventure over the horizon. Consider this great wisdom from John Wayne’s tombstone: “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learnt something from yesterday.”

The nation needs Western conservative wisdom. We work hard, raise our families, care for our neighbors, make religion an important part of our lives, follow the law and promote justice, steward the land, develop our communities, and make the nation a better place.

All this explains why the Western Conservative Summit isn’t just another public-policy conference. Held each summer in Denver since 2010, the event brings the nation’s political leaders to the heartland. They come face to face with the salt-of-the-earth people they represent. Furthermore, it showcases Western conservative wisdom to a nation that badly needs to hear it.

The summit, held this year July 21-23 at the Colorado Convention Center, has a theme you probably won’t find at other political gatherings: “Making Goodness Fashionable.” But Westerners will understand why striving to be good is crucial to conservatism.

Paul Harvey’s famous 1978 speech “So God Made A Farmer” perfectly sums up the quality of a Western conservative. “God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.”

It’s this kind of wisdom that D.C. political leaders need to hear.

• Jeff Hunt is vice president of public policy at Colorado Christian University and director of the Centennial Institute.

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