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Allen B. West speaks to Effingham County GOP

Congressman Allen B. West

(Effingham Daily News) – Former U.S. Rep. Allen B. West attended the Lincoln Day dinner with a warning that Americans have a clear choice.

The choice, said the one-term Florida congressman and retired Army lieutenant colonel, was between “constitutional conservatism and progressive socialism.”

He added that it’s places like Effingham that are going to lead the way if conservatism is going to reign supreme.

“This is the heart of America,” West said during the annual dinner on Friday. “If we restore America, it’s going to happen here.”

At the beginning of his presentation before a packed ballroom at the Thelma Keller Convention Center, West had young Nathan Heath read a lengthy quotation from President Abraham Lincoln. Much of the rest of the presentation was focused on how America could be made a better place for the adult Nathan and those of the next generation.

“If you don’t stand up, the nation might not be around for Nathan to come back and speak at a Lincoln Day dinner 30 or 40 years from now,” West said.

West drew a line between his view on liberty and tyranny.

“Liberty believes in equality of opportunity,” he said. “My father served this great nation during World War II so that his son could grow up and represent the highest income zip code in the United States — Palm Beach. That’s right, I was Rush Limbaugh’s congressman.”

West recalled the time when his father and older brother told him they wanted him to be the first officer in the family.

“That’s who we are,” he said. “We believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.

“What does the other side believe?” he asked. “They believe in a social welfare nanny state. They believe in social utopianism where everybody can be the same. Most importantly, they believe in secular humanism.”

West decried the notion that conservatives don’t believe in a safety net.

“We believe there should be a safety net for you to bounce back up and climb,” he said. “The other side doesn’t give you a safety net, but a hammock.”

That “hammock,” as he put it, has become increasingly more prevalent in his own African-American community, he said.

“Fifty years ago, 77 percent of black children lived in two-parent households,” he said. “The percentage of births out of wedlock was, say, 6 or 7 percent. Now it’s 43 to 44 percent. In the black community, only 23 or 24 percent of the children live in two-parent homes.”

West also decried the notion that conservatives are mean-spirited.

“We are not mean people,” he said. “We are people who believe in people.”

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