Change conservative values? ‘Malarkey’ says Allen Westby George Bennett | March 14th, 2013
OXON HILL, Md. — Former U.S. Rep. Allen West urged conservatives this morning not to compromise their principles and to supplement their criticism of government handouts by drawing more attention to their own private acts of charity.
West was one of the first speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day affair that will feature Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and several other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates.
“I’ll give it to you straight: Last November we did take one on the jaw,” said West, who narrowly lost his re-election bid to Democrat Patrick Murphy in America’s most expensive U.S. House race. “But this movement and this fight is not defined by the punches that we take. We are defined by how quickly we pull ourselves off the mat and our perseverance.
“There is no shortage of people telling us what conservatism cannot accomplish, what we can’t do, how we cannot connect, how we must change our values to fit the times. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I want to tell you that that truly is a bunch of malarkey. The last time I checked a bended knee is not, nor shall it ever be, a conservative tradition.”
West, whose fiery conservative rhetoric has brought him a national following on the right, served up a few portions of red meat in his 20-minute speech.
“I’m speaking from experience when I tell you that there is nothing on this green earth that a liberal progressive fears more than a black American who wants a better life and a smaller government,” said West, who was one of only two black Republicans in the House during the last Congress.
“When more Americans prefer freebies to freedom, these great United States will become a fertile ground for tyranny,” West warned. “When did ‘Ask not what your country can do for you?’ become ‘Ask only what your country will give you.’?”
He got big applause when he said: “I’m a conservative because I believe in peace, real peace, and not peace of mind. I’m a conservative because I believe and understand that real peace comes from the Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps.”
West said he’s tired of “insufferable lectures” from liberals accusing conservatives of lacking compassion. He said conservatives are more likely to volunteer and give to charity while “the only charity a progressive sends is a smug sermon on fair share and what fairness is.”
West said conservatives shouldn’t allow their concern about federal spending to overshadow their concern about economic empowerment.
“We are for freedom, we are for liberty. We want hope for the impoverished. We want America to shine as a beacon of light and life for the world. And it is conservatism, not the hollow promises of the welfare state, that will get us there,” West said.
He added: “Will we have a leader that will stand up and mentor minority youth…Will we open up soup kitchens? Will we show people the superiority of our message? Let’s not continue with lectures, because liberals are better at lecturing. Let’s be the party of action. Let’s be a group of people that look for deeds. Deeds and not words will paint this country red from the California coast to the rocky shores.”
West said in an interview afterward that conservatives lost the messaging war in 2012, allowing Democrats to define GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and other Republicans as heartless.
“The other side paints us as the 1 percenters, the rich, whatever. We need to get out there and show the deeds, not just be rhetorical much the same as they are and let people know what we’re doing,” West said.
In addition to speaking this morning, West is here promoting his online TV show and a new political action committee and nonprofit group that aim to boost conservatives who are minorities or military veterans.