The following article is sponsored by The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University and written by Jeff Hunt.
In 2020, Donald Trump won only five of 13 Western States. Joe Biden got over one-third of all his electoral college votes from the West. The West has over six million more Democratic voters than Republican voters.
It hasn’t always been this way. At one time, the West was conservative. In 2004, George W. Bush won nine of 13 Western States. When I talk with national conservative leaders about the West, they seem misinformed, stuck in an old era of false conception. Isn’t the West conservative? Well, it was, but today it’s shifting. Even the Los Angeles Times refers to it as the New West. Colorado, for instance, doesn’t have a single state-wide elected Republican, and Democrats hold a super-majority in the Colorado House of Representatives. Colorado Springs, once the hub of the nation’s conservative ministries and leading missional non-profits, for the first time in 45 years, didn’t elect a Republican for mayor.
The Western Conservative Summit is hosted by Colorado Christian University, a 501c3 organization. The university is in the business of education, not winning elections. I mention the statistics above to demonstrate shifts in attitude, not to encourage the election of any candidate or party.
Underneath these electoral shifts are the more important cultural shifts. Homelessness, drug addiction, and crime ravage Western states. Part of the reason is that leftist ideas found fertile ground in the West. Take, for instance, marijuana commercialization.
Colorado and Washington were the first two states to commercialize marijuana. What was sold to us was individual liberty and decriminalization. Colorado’s a notoriously socially libertarian state. The pitch worked, and Colorado allowed policies that encouraged drug addicts from across the country to move here.
I once spoke with a senior law enforcement leader from a neighboring state. He loved the fact that we commercialized pot. All the drug users of his state moved to Colorado.
While the drug users were moving to Western states, businesses were moving out. In California, the number of businesses leaving the state doubled in 2021 compared to previous years. In a conversation with a business trade group leader in Colorado, he told me that California businesses aren’t even considering Colorado. Why move to a state that’s just a few years behind California in implementing leftist, anti-business policies? Businesses leaving California are heading for Texas and Florida.
Is the West lost? Not yet. It’s shifting quickly to the left, and we need to fight back now. The West’s naturally socially libertarian culture creates fertile ground for leftist control. Colorado allows for doctor-assisted suicide, online sports gambling, abortion on demand at all nine months, and has even decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms. With this so-called “freedom to live as one wants” has come high taxes – nearly every Colorado homeowner this year saw property tax assessments rise 30-60 percent. Add to this the oppressive government control of businesses and schools, out-of-control crime, homeless tent cities, and the constant litigation of Christians like the baker Jack Phillips and website designer Lorie Smith. So much for freedom.
The answer to saving the West is to embrace a historical conservatism that champions virtue, liberty, and justice. The West historically emphasized personal liberty at the expense of the other two. “Go West, young man. You’ll find gold, gun fights, and girls.” Lots of freedom, limited virtue and justice.
The Western Conservative Summit, held this week in Denver, Colorado, seeks to re-establish virtue, liberty, and justice in the West. Thousands of conservatives will gather to hear from over 50 conservative leaders, attends dozens of workshops, and network in an expansive trade show. We’re teaming up with great organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Alliance Defending Freedom, and many others. The marriage of leftism and libertarianism hasn’t served the West well. Conservative ideals of faith, family, and freedom have provided the foundation for the rise of Western civilization. It’s time we reapply those to save the West.
I’m calling on all conservatives to join us for the historic Western Conservative Summit on June 9-10, 2023, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.
You can join us in-person or watch online here.
Jeff Hunt is the co-chairman of the Western Conservative Summit. You can follow him on twitter at @jeffhunt.