The American Conservative Union each year holds a political action conference called CPAC. CPAC is an anagram, which stands for Conservative Political Action Conference. The conservative movement stands for small government, free markets, and individual liberty. Often the majority of people who attend CPAC are Republican or Libertarian, but all attendees share a common goal: promoting and celebrating conservative principles. For younger conservatives, CPAC is known as “Conservative Spring Break.” I was lucky enough to attend one day of CPAC this year with a good friend, Kayla Foreman. While walking through the CPAC hub, I saw a t-shirt that encaptured how I felt CPAC went: “I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to CPAC.”
As I was getting ready, I was so excited. Before I left for the conference, I pinned the GOP elephant on the lapel of my blazer and knew that I was ready to tackle the day.
As soon as I was handed my CPAC ticket and given my bag, I could not wait to go experience. Mrs. Foreman, Kayla’s mom, gave me a wonderful tour of CPAC, since I had never been and she was involved in running the event. First we saw the ballroom, which is where panels are held. On the days prior to my arrival at CPAC, panels with Senator Ted Cruz and speakers like the Vice President and President, spoke. It was absolutely amazing to walk in and hear conservatives discussing actual issues, not only in policy, but facing the movement and seeing each person listening intently. I felt the eager energy when walking to the room where the President and Vice President had spoke, Senator Marco Rubio in 2016, and many other conservative icons. Being in that room made me eager for the 2017 and other future elections because conservatism is teeming with energy. When we walked into the exhibit hall, my jaw dropped because the entire exhibit hall was full of conservative booths and organizations that are ready to spread the conservative message. Turning Point USA, Future Female Leaders, and Young America’s Foundation were several of the booths that I was excited to visit and was extremely impressed by. Future Females Leaders was started by Amanda Owens, who was a panelist a CPAC this year, to empower conservative women on campuses.
Walking around the exhibit hall was amazing. Each booth offered so many buttons, pins, and information. Turning Point USA does an excellent job promoting conservative activism on campuses and has my favorite conservative slogans. The Young America’s Foundation holds speakers across the country that advocate for free speech and gave out Reagan apparel and my favorite free speech stickers. Although the booths were filled with all of the conservative apparel I could dream of, the best part was seeing the amount of young people close to my age. Almost each booth I went to was run by college students that were just as excited as I was to be there. After going to CPAC, hearing that the Conservative parties are “just a bunch of old people” makes me roll my eyes. Conservatism is alive and well with a young, fresh face.
I saw several speakers while at CPAC. One panel I attended discussed free speech and activism on school campuses on the collegiate and high school level. Amanda Owens, Madison Gesiotto (from the Washington Times), Lawrence Jones (from TheBlaze), and Dr. Matthew Spalding (from Hillsdale College). Lawrence made an excellent point during the panel that the conservative movement needs to present their ideas to more young people. Conservatives need to be out on not only college campuses, but on high school campuses as well. If the conservative ideology is explained to young people earlier, there is a better chance they will understand it better. Each of the panelist agreed and encouraged young activists to speak up on campuses. As Chairwoman of the Teenage Republicans at Millbrook, it was nice to know that the Conservative movement realizes how important it is to have young activists.
Later I heard new EPA Administer Scott Pruitt. He started his speech, rallying the crowd, by saying, “I’m going to tell you, 2017 is a time that sets trajectory for history in the future.”
Pruitt went on to say that there is a way to protect the environment and cut EPA regulations. Additionally Pruitt described several incidents of mismanaged EPA funds. Under his administration Pruitt plans to cut wasteful spending and make sure the EPA regulates within reason. “Many people around the country look at the EPA like the IRS,” joked Pruitt. After the 2017 election Pruitt says, like Yogi Bear, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
I saw the a woman from the Calvin Coolidge speak about the “Forgotten Man”. The forgotten man appeared during the 2016 election according to many conservatives. The forgotten man is typically known to represent the common middle class man or woman. President Trump won through the electoral college not the popular vote. Many forget that the electoral college was created to prevent major, populous cities from winning the election, so that Americans from across the country are represented.
Fmr Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania was also a panelist at CPAC. It was so amazing to hear Senator Santorum speak because he was born in Winchester! Santorum, like other panelist, discussed conservative views and about how President Trump was again for the “Forgotten Man”.
The closing speaker was Sheriff David Clarke, who gave an excellent speech that encaptured the spirit of the event. He focused deeply on grassroot activism and how that was what helped President Trump win the election. “Blue Lives Matter America,” said the Sheriff firmly. The crowd erupted into applause.
CPAC was absolutely amazing and anyone who is slightly interested in Conservative politics should try to attend. It affirms your beliefs and shows you that there is Conservatives that are passionate. Especially as a young person, CPAC proved that conservatives are young and ready to elected the leaders that we believe will lead America in the right direction.