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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.
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.
Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland, a national security expert and commentator, opened up day two of the Western Conservative Summit, in Denver Colorado. McFarland held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan Administrations, a regular contributor to Fox News, and received the Defense Department’s highest civilian award. Her expertise and decidedly conservative world views was a welcome opening for Saturday’s line up of speakers. With the slew of recent foreign policy issues that have been circulating in the news, KT had little trouble finding topics to discuss in her opening remarks.
McFarland began her remarks by asking the room whether they thought America was on the decline, or on the verge of a new renaissance. “Many of the other major world players are about to have significant, fundamental, problems,” she explained. McFarland also explained how she believes America has the opportunity to not only stay strong, but grow over coming years.
China was one of the primary examples she gave for her optimistic outlook regarding America’s position in the world. “They have had major economic growth,” she conceded. But that growth, she insisted, is coming at a high price. First and foremost, China’s pollution problem is a growing concern in not only China, but surrounding areas. Secondly, McFarland insists, there is a ticking demographic time bomb. While China’s one child policy gains little traction in discussions regarding foreign policy, McFarland highlighted the deteriorating female population in China. By some accounts, said McFarland, in years to come China will see 50 million less women due to China’s one child policy, and their cultural preference for sons.
After discussing the perpetual war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in the Middle East, McFarland turned her attention to what is benefiting America. “We elect our leaders,” she pointed out while discussing the inherent values in America’s transitional government. “In fact, part of the Arab awakening is because they didn’t have a system” for changing government, McFarland pointed out.
Most unique in world history, according to McFarland, is America’s Civilian control of the Military. “When, or where, in world history has there been a military as powerful as ours that has not tried to run things?”
In addition to our democratic republic’s transitional government, civilian military, and natural borders, McFarland mentioned demographics and social progress. “Women in the workforce adds anywhere from 15 to 20 percent to GDP.”
But most beneficial to America’s future, according to the National Security expert, is our natural resources. The potential for American oil and natural gas is the “golden opportunity of this generation,” according to McFarland. “We have at least 100 years of oil, and maybe even more natural gas” under America. Such exploitation of our natural resources would create jobs; but most importantly, McFarland says, “cheaper energy would repatriate American manufacturing.”
Additionally, such access to natural resources would greatly reduce America’s military involvement across the globe. “Since WWI, most wars have been fought, at least in part, over industrialized nation’s need for more energy,” she said.
For all those reasons, we have “a golden opportunity,” she promised the crowd. McFarland then pivoted her remarks to what America still needs in order to seize this “opportunity.”
“This [resurgence of America] will only happen if Americans decide that we are willing to take our destiny into our own hands.” McFarland spoke about the need for a youth resurgence within the conservative movement. “This conference is so great, because you’re looking at the next generation of leaders,” she observed while discussing the need for more youth involvement.
Closing her time on stage, McFarland noted, “This is going to be a great time [for America], but it is up to you.”
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.
Ron Packard, CEO and Founder of K¹², introduced Friday Night’s keynote speaker for the Western Conservative Summit, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker. Recent education initiatives were just one of many examples Walker would touch on in his remarks. School Vouchers have long been considered a touchy subject, making headlines again throughout Wisconsin as the deadline passed last week for Schools to take part in the program. Along with vouchers, and open enrollment, Walker touted Wisconsin’s recent changes to labor laws, leadership and the American Ideal.
Walker quoted Ronald Reagan as saying “The Federal Government did not create the states, the states created the Federal Government.” Listing his accomplishments in the State of Wisconsin, and highlighting some of their most innovative reforms, the Governor spoke in detail about the importance of State based reform efforts, and conservative involvement in local government.
Scott Walker began his remarks at this year’s Western Conservative Summit with an immediate reference to the now infamous recall attempts made against him. Speaking about his victory in the recall election, Walker credited his success to citizen’s desire for Leadership. The Governor’s success was a hard won fight, and one that helped propel Walker to the top of certain conservative circles.
As the issue of education reform took center stage in Walker’s remarks, he played to the anxious crowd with a simple phrase that summarized his numerous reform efforts: “Teachers now can be hired and fired on merit” Walker exclaimed to an explosion of applause.
The meat of Walker’s remarks, and no doubt the best received passages, were focused on American Leadership, and the American Dream. Describing the conservative vision for America and her communities as a belief that “success should be measured by how many people no longer need public assistance.”
Under Walker, the once very blue state of Wisconsin has seem a slew of conservative initiatives gain a foothold. Education reform, including voucher programs and changes to teacher’s tenure requirements, were bitter battles in Madison. The Republican Governor has been highly praised in conservative circles for his ability to connect with average voters, and make inroads in the most unlikely of areas. Walker shared with the attendees his recipe for conservative success when he stressed to the audience that conservative need to overcome their image of insincerity, adding at one point that “compassion is about giving people the tools they need to get back into the game.”
“I don’t remember growing up, hearing anyone say ‘when I grow up, I want to be dependent on the government!’” Walker circled back to the idea that Independence is rooted in an independence from Government; saying at one point that Dependence on the government should be temporary, and rare.
Walker’s remarks were well received in a crowd decidedly right of center. His success with reforms previously thought impossible, highlighted the strong optimism that was already present in the room. The Fourth Annual Western Conservative Summit was called to order as attendees cheered on one of the Republican’s most recent success stories.
The 2013 Western Conservative Summit will launch a news bureau, staffed by seasoned journalists Michael Sandoval and Michael Schaus, to cover and report on the event live from Friday, July 26, through Sunday, July 28. Among the speakers to be covered are U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
In addition, Discover Marketing will be the official social media team, working with journalism students and public relations professionals to provide behind-the-scenes access to the event with photos, videos, and news posted live to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The best way to track all the action will be through the Twitter hashtag, #WCS13, which is active now, in addition to the website and social media channels listed below. Stay up-to-date with reliable source material on breaking news and quotes from the Summit’s invited speakers.
The Centennial Blog: http://centennialccublog.com, where primary reporting happens.
Michael J. Sandoval was most recently an investigative reporter for the nation’s leading conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, where he specialized in coverage of green energy issues, government waste and social media strategies. Michael is the former managing editor of People’s Press Collective and a National Review Online contributor, and in 2012 was a political reporter for The Colorado Observer. He also served as an energy policy research analyst for the Independence Institute. An expert in new and social media, Michael’s work has been featured by the Drudge Report, The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, Fox News, Fox Business News, Townhall and dozens of radio outlets around the country, as well as blogs like MichelleMalkin.com, HotAir.com, and Instapundit.com.
Michael Schaus is the associate editor for Townhall Finance, and the executive producer for Townhall Finance Radio. He is a former talk show host, news director, and political activist. Michael has been featured on “America’s Morning News” as an expert commentator on the 2012 election in Colorado, and featured in a number of national programs for his research on the Affordable Care Act. He serves as a commentator for Townhall while producing content for a leading financial talk show.
The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University works to enhance public understanding of the most important issues relating to faith, family and freedom. As part of this endeavor, the Institute focuses its efforts on conducting research, analyzing public policy options and sponsoring seminars, conferences, and other activities that involve students, faculty, staff and outside experts. For more information: www.ccu.edu/centennial.
(Scripps Howard Syndicate) Just maybe, possibly, conceivably we’ve come to a non-violent revolutionary moment in America, and here’s one reason I think so: A Denver area conference.
Called the Western Conservative Summit 2010, it impressed me not just because of the recitation of principles to which I subscribe—individual liberty, limited government, constitutionalism, strength in the face of our enemies—but because of the mood conveyed by both the audience of some 600 and more than a dozen speakers. Continue reading