Thursday, June 01, 2023

Have Republicans Abandoned the American West?

With less than six weeks until the Western Conservative Summit, no Republican Presidential candidate invited has confirmed attending. Considering how significant this election is for conservative values and the Constitution, you would think a few GOP candidates would be quick to accept and plan to attend one of the largest gatherings of conservatives in the western United States. This new reality starkly contrasts with the 2015 Western Conservative Summit, which featured five Republican presidential candidates, and 2016 which included the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump.

These days out West, you are more apt to see tumbleweeds blowing by than Republican presidential candidates. On the other hand, like the silver and gold boom towns, Democrats are pouring into the communities to strike it rich.

The LA Times refers to the Democratic successes in the West as the New West. Joe Biden accrued over 1/3 of his electoral college victories out West. Joe Biden won eight western states; Donald Trump won only five. Colorado doesn’t have a single Republican elected statewide, and Democrats operate with a supermajority in the Colorado House and a comfortable margin in the Colorado Senate.

You look back at the past few decades and see Democrats investing in the West. In 2000, the DNC hosted its convention in Los Angeles. 2008 had Barack Obama among the Greek columns at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado, with 80,000 people in attendance.

The RNC hasn’t hosted a convention in the western region since Bob Dole was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, leaving a significant void in representing conservative values for what were once our country’s most conservative territories.

During the 2020 Presidential campaign, both candidates focused on the eastern region of the United States. Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have made the West one of the least visited regions of their presidencies. This makes a big difference on policy. The federal government continues to grow in size and influence, and its leaders often have no idea how their decisions affect our region of the country.

To better locate government leaders near the people they serve, President Trump moved the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Grand Junction, Colorado. About a year later, Joe Biden moved it back to D.C.

The Western Conservative Summit is a two-day gathering hosted by Colorado Christian University to celebrate and advance Christian, conservative values. It averages over 2,000 in-person attendees and hundreds of thousands of viewers online from all 50 states. For many years, C-SPAN has broadcasted portions of the event to the nation.

Because we are non-partisan, we always invite both Republican and Democratic candidates for office to speak and make their case for their candidacy. In 2019, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis addressed the Western Conservative Summit. He was received kindly, and people engaged civilly. The Summit may be one of the last places in America where this takes place.

I believe some of the finest Americans are western Americans. They love God, their country, and their families. They work hard to produce the food our country consumes and the energy it needs to move. Our issues also differ from those you hear about on cable television, typically broadcast from east coast cities.

This year for the first time, delegates of conservative leaders from the western states will present their issues on the main stage of the Western Conservative Summit: Montana on the problems with the Endangered Species Act; Nevada on water issues; California on the importance of parental rights, especially in education. Many different issues, one location, all West. What an excellent opportunity for candidates to meet and interact with western conservative leaders.

I hope I’m wrong about the presidential candidates not visiting the Western Conservative Summit. I hope I can squint and see riding from the east, candidates ready to engage our attendees and address the unique issues we are facing.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.