Category Archives: Ideas

“Open data,” influence, and ethics in government

This past Friday, I headed up to Parker to attend CityCamp Colorado 2013: Change The Game. CityCamp is the annual conference of OpenColorado.org, an organization dedicated to “support[ing] a transformation that will lead to a simple, beautiful, and easy-to-use government”. Now, I’m aware that the word limited did not appear in that vision statement. But I believe the pursuit of transparent and accessible government data is one that encourages citizen engagement, and thus at least has the potential to diffuse the policy analysis and implementation process from concentration in the hands of a professional bureaucracy. With properly informed citizens, that is a good thing. However, ethical qualifications to the collection and usage of large government data sets are valid concerns. I was at times a bit worried that I was the only one so concerned. Continue reading

Five Lessons from Conservative Persuasion Bootcamp

It happened right under our noses, even though we all knew better: a cabal of determined con men and women got everyone to believe that they were championing open and enlightened discourse, while they were actually just frightening everyone into silence ahead of the reality that the oligarchic governmentality to which they entitled themselves was in fact completely incoherent. Continue reading

Whittle: Taking Back the Moral High Ground

PJ Media video commentator and director Bill Whittle closed Sunday morning’s session at the fourth annual Western Conservative Summit, urging attendees not to let progressives “get away with it anymore” by falsely claiming moral superiority. Continue reading

Goldberg: Progressivism Has No Clothes

Mixing the funny and the philosophical, columnist Jonah Goldberg’s examination of the loaded phrases and political cliches pervading the current political discourse reveals an ideology, progressivism, “without clothing.” Goldberg described what he called the progressives’ use of Continue reading

Sen. Ted Cruz: Conscience of a Constitutional Conservative

Though Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz received a rockstar welcome, the rising GOP star heaped praise on the attendees on the second day of the Western Conservative Summit. “I am humbled,” Cruz said, by all those “who are standing up to take the country back.” And while Cruz admired Continue reading

Hanson: Moral Bankruptcy of Liberalism

The Fall of Rome can be interpreted in many ways, and for Victor Davis Hanson the lessons of history resonate more clearly in contemporary circumstances as the parallels between ancient Rome and the modern United States grow.

“More and more people became dependent on redistributive government,” Hanson said, as Rome developed what he described as a “parasitical economy.”

Rome, Hanson said, ignored signals that were present over centuries. The U.S. is facing a much shorter time table.

Hanson, a military historian, pulled no punches.

“It’s hard to screw up a system that’s viable and logical and works in a generation,” Hanson said.

“We’ve become attuned, so accustomed to it that nobody finds it shocking anymore that the President doesn’t just say ‘spread the wealth,’ we’re now up to another level–‘you didn’t build that,'” said Hanson.

This way of thinking–that there is something suspect about success–is the perfect setup for what Hanson described as the self-appointed elite technocracy to treat law as “flexible and fluid.” Outcomes based on intentions, in this case, President Barack Obama’s administrative goals, force laws to the sideline, Hanson argued.

How the Roman Republic and later, the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, ultimately declined, came from inside as much as from outward aggressors.

“The answer is, something changes from within,” said Hanson.

The shift in mood, Hanson argued, could be seen in works by other historians, particularly the left-leaning populist Howard Zinn.

“When society gets into a Howard Zinn mode, and doesn’t believe that the United States is not just not exceptional but is no better than the alternative, then history is unforgiving,” Hanson said.

Other issues like immigration destroy the concept of rule of law, Hanson said. You can not pick and choose which laws to follow and expect good results, he said.

Hanson ended on a positive note, pointing to the “perfect storm of the left” in the 2008 election.

Five years later and even after surviving a reelection challenge, the Obama administration faces sinking polls and a nation in turmoil, Hanson said.

“I think that suggests that America is exceptional,” Hanson said. “If we can withstand this dark period in our country, we’ll be stronger for it.”

A weakness for those on the left, Hanson said, is that “they don’t even believe in the ramifications of their own ideology.”

“It’s contrary to self-interest and human nature,” Hanson said.

Krista Kafer, a senior fellow at the Independence Institute and an expert on education, moderated the one-on-one discussion.

Hanson, a former classics professor, is a contributor for National Review and a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Barone, Benson, and Ham: Who Owns the Future?

Building on Friday night’s message of optimism and looking to the future, the morning panel featuring Michael Barone, Guy Benson, and Mary Katherine Ham handicapped the next few election cycles, including important gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2013, as well as the 2014 midterm elections.

Benson opened the discussion noting the possible bellwether battle for governor in Virginia featuring conservative Ken Cuccinelli and his formidable foe, Terry McAuliffe. He contrasted that with New Jersey’s own race where incumbent Republican governor Chris Christie currently holds a sizable lead in his race.

Benson stressed the importance of Colorado’s September recall elections, and pointed to the strength of Republicans in the House midterm elections as positive points moving forward in the next eighteen months.

Ham pivoted to communication challenges with so-called millenials–the under-30 crowd–and the importance of acknowledging social issues, but in a constructive and meaningful way.

Ham noted the divergent views held by young people, who are moving increasingly toward support for same-sex marriage, but who are now supporting bans on late-term abortion in larger numbers. Technology plays a large part in those trends, she said.

“Thinking about which issues work for them and which do not, and the ones that do not we need to not make a barrier to joining us on other issues,” Ham said.

The “giant machinery” of government impedes the ability of government to work well, Ham said, and bridging the gap between younger voters’ expectations of government services with the reality of those services delivered on the ground, might prove a successful avenue of messaging for this important demographic.

Ham described this as “a simpler and more refined government [that] can do the things it promises it is going to do.”

Barone took a different tack, and pushed back against the notion of ownership of the future.

“No one owns the future, you get a chance to rent it,” Barone said, arguing that opportunities for conservatives still exist.

Barone pointed to pundits who have declared a permanent majority for Democrats following the 2012 elections, just eight years after pundits said that Republican successes in 2004 meant control for the GOP for the foreseeable future.

Some of those conclusions, Barone said, have come from demographic numbers that give mixed signals at best, or have been interpreted to suit one’s own conclusions.

Past voting performance was no guarantee of future voting behavior, Barone said, citing the shift of Baby Boomers’ support for George McGovern in 1972 to support for Mitt Romney 40 years later.

“I don’t think that there is anything inevitable,” Barone said. “There are challenges for Republicans but there are also challenges for Democrats.”

For Barone, opportunities could lie in the increasing libertarianism of younger voters on issues like gun rights.

Republican efforts to make college more affordable, said Ham, also makes sense in light of concerns over greater student debt due to spiraling college costs.

Ham, who is expecting her first child in August, joined the panel via Skype.

Self-Reliance and Optimism Mark Mia Love’s WCS Address

Utah Republican Mia Love wowed the crowd of more than 1,500 at the fourth annual Western Conservative Summit with her message of self-reliance and optimism.

“You will give back,” Love said, quoting her father’s admonitions to realize her dreams and reach out with a message of hope and a return to core American principles that prove that the American dream is still within reach.

“What we’re all fighting for, and that is the next generation, that’s our children,” Love said.

“It is us, the people on the ground level, that’s going to build this nation, not Washington,” Love declared.

Love’s immigrant parents instilled a sense of responsibility for working hard and for giving back, she said. Her father’s words resonated as she moved through school and into elected office.

Love contrasted those words of resilience and individual achievement with her opponents, who she described as the intellectual elites who preferred to manage other peoples’ lives.

“Their message is, ‘we are here to make your life easier,'” Love said, but that is only good for the short term.

Love, instead, put forward her message of optimism and hard work, and encouraged attendees to share those values as well.

“We are not interested in making your life easier in the short term. We’re interested in making your life better,” Love said.

This way, Love said, Americans would not despair of the country’s current circumstances.

“Our best days lie ahead of us,” Love said.

Love pointed to the darkest days of the Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. She argued that freedom is always fragile, but that the American dream is not dead.

A positive message would help conservatives tell their stories, Love argued.

“That is the America I know, that is the America we know,” she said.

Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, has decided to challenge Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) again in 2014 after falling less than 1000 votes short of unseating the seven-term incumbent in 2012.

Fourth Congressional District Republican Rep. Cory Gardner introduced Love, dubbing the gathering the “epicenter” of political life across the country. If elected, Love would represent the 4th Congressional District of Utah.

Love followed Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, for Friday night’s keynote address. Walker encouraged the attendees to take leadership at the state level and to continue to pursue education reform in his remarks, calling out the efforts in Douglas County by name. He also urged Colorado conservatives not to give up on their state, noting that Republicans have made significant gains in Wisconsin–the birthplace of the progressive movement.

Eight centuries of the magnificent Magna Carta

(’76 Contributor) June 15 commemorates the affirmation, 798 years ago, of our fundamental rights. Magna Carta, the Great Charter, confirmed “for us and our heirs in perpetuity” that the government, even the king himself, must honor citizens’ rights and operate within law and custom.

Despite the fashion to demean Magna Carta, the Great Charter clearly acknowledges the rights of “all free men.” Here are a few of the 63 clauses. Continue reading