March 26, 2009

Leadership Program Of The Rockies Retreat: Defending Liberty Through Action

"Pro-liberty, pro-freedom revolution"--LPR's 2009 retreat

"Courage, moral fortitude, and passion around liberty" was the central message of the Leadership Program of the Rockies' annual retreat held March 6-7 at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Former U.S. Rep. and current LPR Board Chairman Bob Schaffer emphatically charged the attendees to reject the GOP inferiority complex and effectively advocate on behalf of the core American philosophies of liberty and freedom.

The retreat proved far more than what might be considered similar conferences held in DC--where elbow-rubbing with conservative/libertarian celebrities and self-congratulatory back-patting from attendees cheering their own enlightened perspectives are the norm--LPR is a call to action. The invited guest speakers repeatedly admonished the crowd to perform the duties of free people in the defense of liberty. Boiled into a bumpersticker quote it amounted to this--"what have you done today for liberty?" Grousing about Democrat victories and creeping socialism, especially among like-minded compatriots, achieves nothing. Principled opposition with substance will ultimately win the argument of the day, not the sort of frothing rage that characterized the Left for the better part of the last decade.

The following is a photo essay of the event--not a recapitulation of the speakers themselves (you should attend next year's event, or better yet, get in the program yourself!), but key points from the speakers, packed with links to relevant blog posts, author's books, and other materials discussed at the retreat.

Click to enlarge:


Bob Schaffer, former U.S. Representative, current Chair of the Colorado's Board of Education, and current LPR Board Chairman--exhorted retreat attendees to act with "courage, moral fortitude, and passion around liberty."


Michelle Malkin, MichelleMalkin.com and HotAir.com--urged the less tech-savvy to embrace, not fear, online activism and new media use, noting that conservatives need to continue engaging politically while "withdrawing [their] checkbooks."


Princella Smith--"invite, engage, and promote, on principle," and establish tasks to be accomplished, beginning at the local level.


Ross Kaminsky, Rossputin.com, discusses "going Galt."


Philip Howard, author of "Life Without Lawyers"--argues for the need to have a basic shift in legal philosophy and a return to a responsibility that underlies freedom, that Americans should be "free to act, with accountability"; calls for judges to "redraw boundaries on authority" and cease using the power of the state to take freedom from others.


Former U.S. Rep Bob Beauprez, author of "A Return to Values: A Conservative Looks at His Party"--asked attendees to not to reexamine their principles, but ways to effectively advocate them in the public sphere, and discussed "education, taxation, litigation, and regulation" among other topics.


Mike Rosen, radio talk show host for 850 KOA, put it simply--conservatives and libertarians need to "dig deeper into their pockets to beat" the Colorado Model, with fundraising and organization; that pragmatism (not overweening optimism) should pervade any sense of a pendulum swing back from extreme liberalism; and finally, to win the argument one must harness rage, and refute Democrat overreach with substance and principles.


Dr. Yaron Brook, President of the Ayn Rand Institute--advocated a moral defense of laissez-faire capitalism, rejected the premise that the current crisis is a product of capitalism (the real culprit is government intervention); explained that rational self-interest has been demonized, requiring capitalists to educate others.


Philip Howard discusses law with Colorado Attorney General John Suthers before dinner.


U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman talks to the crowd during Friday's keynote dinner.


Current LPR Class of 2009 members--Jenny Lang, David K. Williams, and Kate Melvin, and Rachel Boxer of FaceTheState.com.


Keynote speaker William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, expressed guarded optimism and suggested a retreat from hasty decisions, positing a call for "political entrepreneurship" and the flowering of intra-party debate.


William Kristol and Matt Dempsey, Communications Director for Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Republican Leadership Program graduate (LPR's predecessor, Class of 2000), and editor for Sen. Inhofe's EPW blog (Environment and Public Works committee), prepare to exchange business cards.


Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, RLP Class of 2002, and potential candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010.


One of the Broadmoor's more enchanting promenades.


Maurice McTigue, a prominent New Zealand politician, reminded the crowd that whether in power or biding time on the sidelines, leaders must have courage to do the right thing; government should be seen as a referee, not a player, and certainly not accorded responsibilities and power that threaten wealth creation; that action requires challenging legislation and policy at all levels and at all times (ask why? what is the outcome? public benefit? efficacy? cost benefit?).


Brigitte Gabriel, author of "They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It"--roused the crowd with a defense of Western culture, describing her own personal experience with radical jihad, honored current and former members of our armed forces, and detailed the threat posed by those who loathe our freedoms (let alone despise capitalism) through insecure borders.


Bob Schaffer holds up the stuffed turkey that used to hang on the wall of his office during his tenure in Congress, returned to him by the soon-retiring John Shadegg (R-AZ).


Kate O'Beirne, Washington editor of National Review, introduces Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online.


Goldberg, the author of "Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning"--defended his damning critique of the left as the true originators, perpetrators, and perpetuators of fascism and highlighted the politics of personal destruction employed by them; brought the retreat to a hilarious close that focused on the intellectual insecurities of the left, the need for principled opposition, and a final call to action echoing all of the previous speakers.


Goldberg enthusiastically signed copies of his book, a New York Times #1 bestseller.


The sky was overcast above the Broadmoor, but the forecast inside wasn't bleak, just as long as LPR members and guests went back home, armed with additional intellectual ammunition and a renewed sense of principled purpose and substantive objectives.

Those on the ground at the LPR retreat reflected on what the program means to them and how the retreat has impacted their own political activism:

•"During this time of unprecedented trends toward both economic fascism and socialism in our nation, the inspiration and intellectual ammunition provided by the Leadership Program of the Rockies is invaluable for those of us fighting daily for liberty and, with luck, will encourage others to join the fight. The value of knowing "you are not alone" in trying to protect the values on which this country was founded can not be overestimated, and for that I'm especially appreciative of LPR"--Ross Kaminsky, prominent Colorado blogger of Rossputin.com, LPR Class of 2005

•"LPR has been a great place to network and meet like-minded individuals . . . The LPR retreat was fantastic! Where else are you going to go to hear highly esteemed individuals explain how democracy goes against individual rights??!"--Amanda J. Teresi, co-founder of Liberty on the Rocks, LPR Class of 2009

•"The retreat is an inspirational event. The speakers help improve one's ability to demonstrate how capitalism is the only moral system of human interaction. I'll be back"--David K. Williams, Jr., co-founder of the Gadsden Society, LPR Class of 2009

•“This LPR retreat attracted phenomenal speakers. Jonah Goldberg was a riot – at lunch it was time to open the brain tanks because he was dispensing premium, 91-octane knowledge”--Wesley Dickinson, co-founder of People's Press Collective, LPR Class of 2007

•"LPR is the premiere place for Colorado's future leaders to learn the value of liberty and for Colorado's lovers of liberty to learn to be effective leaders. If you get the opportunity to join LPR, to meet like-minded leaders, and to understand more deeply the principles that make this nation great, don't pass it up"--Ben DeGrow, Independence Institute education policy analyst and blogger at Mount Virtus, LPR Class of 2006

•"As an activist and first-time Retreat attendee who has been interested in the Leadership Program of the Rockies for some time, I was very impressed with the caliber of speakers and the number of civic and intellectual leaders in attendence. Excellent experience, and I am excited to become more involved in the program!"--Brett Moore, President of Denver Metro Young Republicans

•"When I was a State Patrol Major Gov. Owens appointed me to Chair the Homeland Security Board for the Metro Denver area in 2002 so I am aware of the terrorist issues facing America today. But Brigitte Gabriel's presentation brought firsthand knowledge of the dangers the World is facing; she brought tears to my eyes and is the best speaker I have ever heard! I encourage everyone to check out her website: www.actforamerica.org. Get educated, understand the threats we face, get involved and protect America's future"--Lora Thomas, Retired Major Colorado State Patrol, LPR Class of 2008

•"The Leadership Program of the Rockies annual retreat at the Broadmoor this year was a much-needed "shot in the arm" to re-energize, reinvigorate, and re-arm (rhetorically) the liberty-loving coalition.

The panelists and presentations were informative, engaging, even rousing - I dare you to experience Yaron Brooks, Brigitte Gabriel, and Jonah Goldberg and not get motivated. If they didn't succeed in lighting your fire, your log is wet.

However, I think that Bob Schaffer's opening remarks really encapsulated the spirit of the event. After remarking on the rapid growth of the government role in so many areas and noting that freedom and market principles are under relentless attack, Bob called for “an army of people devoted to the cause of liberty” – people of courage, moral fortitude and armed with the knowledge and understanding of how things work, and the ability to engage in public debate – and win!

Now – in times that once again “try men’s souls” – we need to create the same revolutionary sense as 1776.

Bob asked, "How did the colonists begin to organize and exchange ideas?" They formed clandestine groups – such as the “Sons of Liberty”, meeting in pubs and private houses, forming “Committees of Correspondence” to spread ideas and organize people from the ground up.

We, the people are recapturing that revolutionary spirit – forming grassroots groups, meeting in pubs (“Liberty on the Rocks”) and “Committees of Correspondence” to spread the idea of freedom & liberty (“Peoples Press Collective”, E-mail chains).

The Leadership Program of the Rockies Annual Retreat is a kind of constitutional convention of the freedom movement, the attendees the core of the "Army of Freedom" that are mobilizing as Leaders in Action to rise up in Defense of Capitalism, individual rights and the principles of freedom. Go LPR!"--Matthew Arnold, LPR 2008 Class President

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