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Few things are more tiresome than the backslapping, end-of-year honors politicians and their sycophants bestow on themselves. It’s even worse in a Republic built on the revolutionary notion of self-governance. Here, the citizens are the leaders… or, at least, we’re supposed to be.

A while back I was asked which elected officials would be honored this year at the annual Conservative Leaders Gala. This well-meaning fellow wanted to know so he could decide how big a sponsor to be, so he could try to be seated with a big-cheese politician.

We don’t honor any politicians, I told him. He was shocked: but aren’t those the conservative leaders in Texas? he asked.

Not by a long shot.

At this year’s gala, like every year, we present grassroots activists with engraved cavalry swords, that long-standing symbol of practical, on-the-ground leadership. Since 2014, we’ve presented more than 100 men and women with the award.

To be clear, the honorees aren’t people we necessarily know. They come to us by nomination from folks around the state who have seen them in action. This year alone we received hundreds of such nominations. These folks come from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds.

What they have in common, though, is a desire to fight for a better Texas. They want to see conservative reforms implemented and the cause of liberty advanced.

These aren’t people who seek the spotlight or ask for attention. Just the opposite, in fact. They’d be just as happy never being noticed… as long as the lot of their fellow Texans is improving.

The awardees are always an eclectic bunch of warriors. Some of them have blogs, offering insights on local issues, while others are blockwalking machines. Some organize get-out-the-vote efforts in their churches and neighborhoods, while others spend their free weekends going into unconventional places looking to expand the conservative movement. There are folks who have fought city hall and beat back multi-national corporations. The list goes on and on.

For these folks, being an engaged citizen isn’t much different than their marriages, their role as parents, even their faith: it is simply what they are.

When we call to inform them of the award, they all inevitably say the same thing: what I do isn’t hard; anyone can do it.

That’s right. And all it takes to get started is to get started. See a need, and start filling it. Don’t wait to be asked.

These men and women are leaders precisely because they have jumped first into the fight, encouraging others by their example.

Citizens in a Republic built on the idea of self-governance should look for leadership not in the ranks of our public servants, but to ourselves and our neighbors. When Texans wake up every day, looking for new ways to fight for liberty, the Lone Star State will shine more brightly than ever.