The Independence Institute needs to officially drop its self-appointed role as Colorado’s conservative police because it just executed a no-knock raid on the wrong house.
The institute has a bad habit of glancing over another individual or group and decreeing whether or not it is conservative. In a July 10 piece, Amy Cooke of the Independence Institute declares a new conservative group, The Western Way, is a “global warming opportunist.” If she had spent five minutes researching The Western Way, she would have discovered this new group is aggressively conservative.
The Western Way is an organization formed to reclaim conservative leadership on western conservation and environmental issues. Our position is that conservatives have led the most significant conservation efforts in the western United States, yet extreme political interests have somehow created a false narrative that conservatives do not value the environment. In other words, liberals created a myth that conservatives are anti-environment and are now advancing this lie to win elections.
Think about it, liberals paint a picture of conservatives wearing Brooks Brothers suits pushing polices that contaminate land, pollute streams and develop public lands into Super Walmarts. Now, think of actual conservatives in western states: They wear clothes from Cabelas, not Brooks Brothers; they are hunters who cherish public lands; they are fisherman who treat the streams as sacred, and they are farmers and ranchers who have acted as responsible stewards of their land for generations. The Western Way is setting the record straight on the fact that conservatives across the west value our land. Progressive liberals’ false depiction of conservatives being anti-environment is nothing more than a political initiative, and it is working.
To fix this, conservatives need to reclaim leadership on conservation and environmental issues. We cannot keep playing whack-a-mole with the thousands of extreme environmental groups and their constant stream of ideas that would freeze the U.S. economy. Instead, we need to take the wheel and honestly identify the actual environmental problems facing the western U.S. and then provide aggressive solutions to those problems that are based on conservative, free market principles. This is the high road that environmentalists hope conservatives will not take. It reclaims conservative leadership on conservation issues by driving the most efficient and effective solution and exposes the far left for wanting to be martyrs rather than just solve the actual problem.
So what aspect of The Western Way agenda does the Independence Institute’s conservative police take issue with? Hard to tell from the drive-by piece it ran, but it appears that the Independence Institute was offended that The Western Way took an adverse position on one piece of legislation in Colorado.
In a constructive setting, two conservative organizations like Independence Institute and The Western Way would work through these different perspectives and respect the fact that conservative groups cannot be aligned on every policy. In fact, The Western Way has these conversations with our conservative allies all of the time and it is a healthy and productive approach to advance our shared conservative objectives. But that is not Independence Institute’s approach. They did not even reach out to The Western Way for discussion and conveniently failed to mention how many core conservative western voters and national conservative groups support our approach and our mission.
The Western Way is pioneering an initiative embraced with equal enthusiasm by millennial conservatives as well as baby-boomer conservatives. If this approach doesn’t fit inside Independence Institute’s stodgy box, we are OK with that, but drop the shtick of acting like Independence Institute has some power to decree who is and is not conservative in Colorado.
This election year only one presidential debate will be held in the Western United States. Wednesday’s debate, being held in Nevada, offers the candidates an opportunity to share their positions on issues of critical concern to Western swing state voters. Failure to address these issues would be political miscalculation by the presidential nominees and would disrespect Western voters.
A recent poll, the 2016 Conservation in the West Poll, found that 75 percent of voters in the West believe that issues involving public lands, waters, and wildlife are important in deciding whether or not to support a candidate, even when compared to other issues like the economy, health care and education.