After I got back home to Dallas last evening from Las Vegas where I was invited to attend the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) at 10:36PM CT, I sat down to my computer to write this missive. I had the opportunity to visit with the folks there at what is called Cowboy Christmas, where I did book signings of my latest literary endeavor, “Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death.” The annual WNFR is considered the Super Bowl of Rodeo, and it was my first time ever attending. I have been to several rodeo events prior. The Ft. Worth rodeo topped that list. However, as I sat there in the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas taking in this incredible spectacle, it hit me, this was real America.
Here before my eyes were everyday Americans, men and women who toiled and rubbed sweat from their brow. I looked into the wondrous eyes of so many little boys and girls, and yes, the National Junior NFR was taking place there as well. It was an event that was larger than life for me, a first-time attendee. Las Vegas was overtaken by men and women sharply attired in western wear, jeans, boots, hats – and no, there were no “skinny jeans” to be found. There was a certain swagger, and everyone walked upright, proud, and resolute. I was amongst the American spirit.
Someone once quipped a few years back that “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” My question is simple: why would anyone want to fundamentally transform that true grit, the indomitable, entrepreneurial drive and determination, the abject courage to mount upon a 2,000-pound, massive animal and ride it for 8 seconds? The answer is very simple: there are those who hide within the elite closets and never come to know and experience, America.
America is not about Hollywood “A-Listers” who tend to believe that their values are all that matter. They are the ones who look down their noses at the folks who were there in droves, and still are, in Las Vegas. They would castigate and demonize the gathering of Cowboys and Cowgirls in Las Vegas as something far beneath their cultural elitism, simple rubes. They would look upon the real Americans at the WNFR and denigrate them as being out of touch, possessing antiquated principles and values such as faith, family, and, well, love of country. However, as it states in the Bible, these are the salt of the earth, people who make America great. They are the ones who teach their children and grandchildren to respect their elders and honor the American flag. These are the people who, some of them, raise their own to be the next generation of Cowboys and Cowgirls, daring to mount the horse and live life to its fullest, as they define it to be. That, sadly, is not understood by those Hollywood elites.
As well, America is not about those academic elites who teach children under their instruction that this nation is full of racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, and Islamophobes. These are individuals who seem bent upon creating anything derogatory they can use to describe this nation, the one that the folks at the WNFR love. America is not perfect, but it strives to be a “more perfect union,” and ask yourself, where else could a black kid from the inner city of Atlanta grow up to be a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, command a battalion in combat, become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and get invited into the Wrangler box and meet the President/CEO at the WNFR? Yep, it’s an awesome country, this place called America. The reason is because we are rewarded for our own initiative, drive, and determination to excel. It is because America offers an equality of opportunity, yet some prefer an equality of outcomes. For nearly 10 days, these Cowboys and Cowgirls will compete, nightly, and at each iteration, there is a champion. In the end, there is an overall champion. There are no participation trophies, but they all enter the arena, each night, with that opportunity to win. That is America.
America is not the media and political elites. What is the major issue in our republic today? I believe it is a subjective, propaganda driven media that wants to define for us what America is. They do not do so to preserve our finest traditions, honor, character, and rule of law. They have embarked upon a goal of aiding in the separation of our nation along any collective delineation that they can find. Instead of seeking the means to unify, they create the headlines to divide. For me, there is nothing more un-American. Why weren’t all the major news networks there at the WNFR to showcase the real America? Is it that they want to keep it hidden, and bring it out only when necessary for their advantage? Heck, chances are, most of the people who were at the WNFR would not have been too trusting of the liberal, progressive media if they were in attendance. They have come to believe that they cannot be trusted, and that there is always a hidden agenda. How sad that in our America with a freedom of press, we lack a responsible press.
What is America?
I think President Abraham Lincoln gave us the best understanding of what America represents when he gave us his clear definition of liberty. He stated at the Baltimore sanitary fair on April 18, 1864 the following:
“The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatable things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatable names—liberty and tyranny.”
The Cowboy way, what was on display in Las Vegas at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo , is the purest and most simple understanding of liberty. It is that romantic aura that has defined the simple way of life in America. Somehow, we have confused it and made it appear unattainable, unless government enables it, which as Lincoln articulated, leans more towards tyranny.
America is the world’s best definition of liberty. However, there is a big mean bull called progressive socialism that we need our hardy Cowboys, and Cowgirls, to mount, and ride until it tires.
Allen West is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. Mr. West is a Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center to support its mission to expose and neutralize liberal media bias and is the author of “Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death.” He pens a daily column for his personal website at theoldschoolpatriot.com.