Give Me Cowboy Values Over Washington Values Any Day

No sooner had Texas Gov.  Rick Perry entered the race for the White House, than the word “cowboy” resurfaced as an insult and a pejorative.

“Governor Perry is going to have to fight the impression that he’s a cowboy from Texas, this simply added to it.” Karl Rove, formerly Bush’s Brain Has Perry’s cowboy shtick already gone too far?" That was the headline recently in the Las Vegas Sun

What started it? He upset the sensibilities of the elitists by saying that if Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke printed anymore money it might be “treasonous”. Ben Bernanke’s money printing spree isn’t treasonous. Stupid, maybe, but not treason.

And Perry’s comment was no more than a poor choice of words like those chosen by then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 when he claimed that Americans in rural areas “cling to their guns and religion”.

Now I expected this kind of talk about cowboys from all the four flushing jack-legged East Coast oracles in the media and the Democratic establishment, but I didn’t expect Republicans to join in the character assassination of an American icon—the cowboy.

What these people know about real cowboys you could fit in a thimble.

You’d think folks like Karl Rove would know better than to use that term in a negative way since his old boss George W. Bush was routinely denigrated as a “reckless cowboy” as was President Reagan before him.

Once Rick Perry made his announcement last week, I am quite sure that the commentators and pundits have been chomping at the bit to use the term “cowboy” in a pejorative sense.

The thing that makes my blood boil is that this misinformed and cavalier description demonstrates a complete lack of understanding or knowledge of who cowboys really are and what it means to be a cowboy.

In fact it is a dad-blasted insult to those who good folks who still, to this day, rise with the sun, ride the range, tend their herds and work the land.—through droughts and blizzards, good times and bad.

I don’t make my living as a cowboy. But I have had the honor and privilege to ride and work alongside real cowboys and if I could find an outfit to hire me I would love to make my living from the back of a horse.

Those experiences have taught me a lot about who they really are. I am proud to call them friends and a finer bunch of folks you’ll never meet.

Unlike politicians, a cowboy still makes a deal with a handshake and his word is his bond.

A cowboy does not make rash decisions because the wrong decision can be the difference between life and death for him, his horse and those he works with.

A cowboy lives by a set of unwritten principles hard wired into his DNA. It is instinctive because it is the example set by those that surround him.

Cowboys don't whine and stomp their feet like spoiled children and politicians often do when things don't go their way. They know that whining and wringing your hands don't get the job done.

In my interaction with cowboy and ranching community up in Idaho, I have learned it is very close knit and neighbors and families work together. If a neighbor gets hurt and can’t work, everyone pitches in to help.

At gathering time in the fall they take turns helping each other bring their cows down off the summer range in preparation for the long winter ahead. And in the spring at branding time families get together to share in this important ritual of ranch life.

They lend a hand when needed, mind each other’s kids as if they were their own, and share hardships and special occasions equally.

Those values still exist in thousands of communities all across this country.

I don’t know much about Rick Perry, but from what I have learned so far that sounds a lot like his early life in Paint Creek, Texas. He comes from the same background and has the same values as my cowboy and cowgirl friends up in Blackfoot, Idaho.

Like most voters I want to learn more about him before I decide if he is the right man for the job.

But from George Bush the Elder to Bill Clinton to George Bush the Younger to Barack Obama, the last four presidents were all Ivy League educated and certified members of the establishment that has gotten America into the bipartisan mess we find ourselves.

Maybe it’s time for a graduate of a land grant university like Texas A&M and a real son of the soil to get us out of this mess.

And someone who knows what it means to be a real cowboy.

Patrick Dorinson blogs at "The Cowboy Libertarian" and he can be heard on a radio program with the same name on Sundays, from 3-5 p.m. PT on KFBK radio.