I can’t say it enough, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, turned out to be a treasure trove of philosophy that was just what America needed at just the right moment, at least for me, so that I could explain it to other people. It was interesting; my family was mad at me for the breakneck pace of a big trip we were all on together. We had just spent the day before seeing all the big sites in Yellowstone. Every day, we had been getting up early and doing more in a day than most people do in a week of vacation. Not only were my two daughters with me and their spouses but all my grandchildren as well. I was on a mission; I was uncovering rocks putting together the essence of what was happening to our country. The election year of 2020 had presented us all with lots of unusual problems, and I was looking for answers in 2021. In June of that year, my family was deep in the rugged buttes of Wyoming several miles from the East entrance to the park outside Cody, Wyoming, which convinced me they needed a break from all the adventuring. So, we agreed on a compromise; we’d take a day off our adventure and go to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in town and take it easy to let everyone catch their breath. It was their idea, actually, but I didn’t tell them that the Buffalo Bill Center of the West was one of the places I had on my list that was always at the top, and I wanted to go there badly. So quite unexpectedly, I found myself there with my entire immediate family, and it turned out to be one of the great highlights of my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was one of those wonderful days with my family that intersected with questions I had been asking all my life, and suddenly there were answers.
My concern was in asking the nature of corruption; we had just seen the removal of President Trump by a rigged election and hostile Democrats hell-bent on socialism and communism. They had seen how well Bernie Sanders, the socialist, polled among young people during the presidential election the year prior, so now they were pulling off the masks and showing themselves to be the socialist they always were. They were behaving the way I always said were their true intentions, and for many Americans, they were shocked by it. At that time, I was also working on my book The Gunfighter’s Guide to Business, which I had finished on the road that year and was in the editing process. At the center of that book was an understanding of the nature of corruption. My point was that some of the best years of American life that was least corrupt were the one where the modern socialists were declaring to be one of the most, the Victorian age, the end of the Gilded era, and the start of the Progressive. For me, it was the other way around, so I was very interested in why the Buffalo Bill Wild West show was so popular among Americans for the closing decades of the 1800s and how Trump was an interesting call-back to that Make America Great Again sentiment that also was there with the Buffalo Bill Wild West show.
I have an interesting relationship with Buffalo Bill, each year in Ohio; I participate in the Annie Oakley Festival in Darke County during the last weekend of July. I have done that for most of my adult life. It’s always been a throwback to the Buffalo Bill show which Annie Oakley was the trick shooting act. When I was a kid, the Clint Eastwood film Bronco Billy touched me deeply, and I wanted to be a part of that life, so the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville, Ohio, gave me that chance, which I have always seen as the essence of American life. I used those experiences to paint my book’s unique point of view to what America was, especially from business life. So a lot was culminating there at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West that the average visitor wouldn’t have experienced. But the museum didn’t disappoint. It was top class, one of the best of its kind in the world, and I brought back from there a real treasure of books and art that I would spend the rest of the year studying, which is the usual way I do things. I visit places; then I learn all I can about those places long after I’ve gone. In that way, my visits last a long time, but I get to know a place months and years after the initial visit. And it was in this exploration that I ran across the Edward Bellamy book Looking Backward and discovered precisely what I had been looking for, the link to many of our modern problems. That book had been trendy during the time of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and it held the answer to the long question of why that show had been so popular with people, even in this modern day. It even explained why Trump was such a good president and why so many people on the socialist left wanted to see him utterly destroyed.
Bellemy’s biggest mistake in his book Looking Backward was that he assumed that an administrative state of the central government could regulate corruption out of existence. This idea of a socialist utopia was very attractive to some people, and they became progressives that would shape the Democrat party we see today early in the 1900s. Ironically, many Americans, without realizing it, understood that the life of Buffalo Bill and his show had touched on the essence of America, and they wanted to see more of it before it vanished as progressives had been promising. There was honor and invention in the Wild West that Buffalo Bill showed in his displays. America was remarkably uncorrupted for a few years of western expansion until corruption took over on the heels of Progressives and the work of Karl Marx sought to sabotage it right out of the gate, which is a battle that is still being waged to this day. As it turned out, and it’s evident at the Buffalo Bill gun museum on the Center of the West campus, gun ownership in America had punched a window into the long history of corruption in the world. Buffalo Bill represented the best to have come from that philosophic period. This bit of history was so remarkable that Plato and Aristotle would have never conceived of such a thing. Still, there it was in the American west, the defeat of corruption before the world’s governments could taint it with their looting presence. And the left never figured it out. It’s an easy answer “Looking Backward” at how childlike Bellamy was in his assumptions within his book. The socialist utopia that Karl Marx wanted and the Bellamyites who followed him for years after that book instead made corruption worse through the administrative state. We were all a lot better off when the world was, as Buffalo Bill showed it. And people understood that when they went to see his show.
The nature of corruption comes from any organization of people who are put in power over other people. The other people have no means to check the power inflicted upon them. The magic of America that no other society in the world had figured out is that with Americans having gun ownership, they could control the influence of corruption as it grows within any centralized authority. That centralized authority might be our corporations or our local, state, and federal governments. Corruption was always going to happen, but the ownership of guns kept it checked in healthy ways that worked best before the works of Karl Marx infected American academic circles with a completely foreign concept from Europe that fed corruption rather than controlling it. And that was something new for me to think about. I think it’s normal to have thoughts about something where you know it’s right or wrong, but we often don’t understand why. Well, at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, they had recorded “why,” and it was just the right thing I had been looking for. It’s not enough to say that something doesn’t work for emotional reasons. But in the context of history, we have preserved facts that we can study and apply to our modern-day. And within that study, we have our answer on the nature of corruption and what we can do to control it. It’s in the minds of all societies to have corruption. For the liberal, they think they can educate it out of people. But in the process, they make much more of it. Yet, in the proven history of western expansion, we did control corruption for a healthy period, and the world was much better for it. History proves it so.