Opinion | Paul Olson: Your friendly neighborhood conservative | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Paul Olson: Your friendly neighborhood conservative

Paul Olson
A Friendly Conservative

As the new conservative columnist for the Summit Daily News, I realize I will not be preaching to the choir in our fairly liberal county, which consistently casts 60% or more of its votes for Democrats in statewide and national elections, but I hope to show you the conservative values we all share.

I love our mountain paradise and the wonderful people I have met since moving here from the Midwest. When the media tells us of the political polarization in America, it is important that we notice how well conservatives and progressives can work together for the common good in Summit County.

Conservatism goes beyond political issues and has much to do with societal customs and continuity. I often hear locals talking about the significant changes they have seen in Summit County. People generally like stable social institutions, and change can make us anxious, but sometimes we benefit from change. We now have more skiers but extra terrain and chairlifts, so much recent development but new restaurants and stores, hoards of visitors but added revenue to support public services.

A good example of Summit residents of all political persuasions coming together for the public good is The Summit Foundation. In 2020, over 3,500 donors — generous Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives — gave to this nonprofit, according to its annual report. That year, The Summit Foundation gave back more than $4.5 million to the community, including 235 student scholarships and support for 74 nonprofit organizations. The Summit Foundation demonstrates how we do not need to look to the government to solve every problem. Nonprofits, businesses and individuals can often address the needs of a community more quickly and efficiently than a government agency, and there is no additional burden on taxpayers.

Many left-leaning residents are probably more conservative than they realize and tend to believe in core conservative principles, such as supporting individual freedom, fiscal responsibility in government, the rule of law and free markets. I would guess most people are fiscally conservative when it comes to their household finances and take pride in living within their means and not taking on too much debt. Parents hope that their children are conservative with money. It is upsetting to Democrats and Republicans when we learn about a government program that was ineffective and wasteful, where our elected officials are not being prudent with our tax dollars.

Most of us realize there is no free lunch, that no government program is free, that “we the people” pay for it. Summit County business operators enjoy the benefits of a free market economy within which they can take risks and receive the benefits of their entrepreneurial efforts. They may tend to have a conservative view of government and are very concerned about excessive taxes and regulations, which could result in lower profits that might put their livelihoods in jeopardy.

Summit County is a mix of people from different economic classes, political ideologies and life circumstances. The friendly people you see out at a local restaurant, in the lift lines or shopping at the supermarket are a variety of conservatives and progressives and everything in between. That is part of the wonderful character we should appreciate about our community.

I have friends all over the political spectrum. If politics is a touchy subject, as it usually can be, we have other things to talk about: that super powder day at A-Basin, the new restaurant in Dillon or how well the high school soccer team is doing. If you do talk politics, remember that sharing time with your friends is much more important than winning a debate.

Paul Olson

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