The big speech of the day was by President Trump, and I covered that in a separate posting. Today’s speakers may not have had the headline names in many cases. However, their messages were still important for the conservative movement.
The morning began with discussions about the threats to America from outside our borders, namely Islamist extremists. This ties in with one of the main themes brought out in most of the messages-- illegal immigration and border security. Certainly, one of the few defined duties of the federal government is the protection of the states and the citizens from threats to our liberties and sovereignty. In reality, our largest problems stem from the failure to enforce current laws. The administration promised to change this.
There was an excellent panel discussion on property rights, specifically personal, physical, and intellectual property. The Kelo decision was a key decision by the Supreme Court that set property rights back to the days of the British Empire. Not only did the Kelo family lose their property to a developer, the property was never developed, and is vacant to this day.
Intellectual property was discussed. The threat of theft of these things is no different than if someone were to steal your car. Your creation is your property, and another of government’s few defined powers is the protection of our right to our property.
The final section on property was a hot button topic for me-- civil asset forfeiture, or the theft of property by the government. Originally sold to state and federal legislatures as a way to hurt and help stop illegal drug and organized crime groups, it has become an arm of tyranny in some areas. Sheriff Mills from Oklahoma spoke about his experience witnessing this violation of property rights by the government. As a former federal law enforcement officer, he witnessed this abuse of power by some local agencies, and in time he experienced the confiscation of his own pickup when an employee was caught stealing.
Lou Dobbs gave a rousing speech, recalling much of the Trump/Pence platform from campaign to the first month in office. He called on the people to mobilize and become personally involved in making sure Congress follows the president’s lead. Border security and stopping the influx of illegal immigration, along with removing the criminal element from that group was a key part of the message. The protection of Americans and their rights was essentially a lead in before the introduction of President Trump.
After the president spoke, there was another panel discussion about government overreach by prosecutors, at both the state and federal levels. Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Ted Stevens, Tom Delay, Bob McDonald and others had all been the victims of rogue prosecutors. These are public figures who were essentially victims of partisans who used the judicial system to take out political foes. However, they are not the only victims. There are many stories of prosecutors more bent on winning a conviction on a case than seeking justice. A vigilant populace holding these people accountable is the only solution.
Nearly as popular as Donald Trump was the dynamic Nigel Farage who spoke on Brexit. Nigel brought the crowd to its feet a number of times as he spoke passionately of the movement for Great Britain to leave the European Union. He compared the drive for national sovereignty in his nation to our concerns and the sea of change in administration in this nation. 2016 was a pivotal year for Great Britain and the United States, and he believes that will continue in the coming years.
Wayne LaPierre spoke on the NRA and preservation of the 2nd amendment. He reminded the people of the importance of firearms and the freedom to keep and bear arms as an essential part of liberty and how the NRA is the first line of defense for that right.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts spoke on governing in an efficient manner and keeping up with federal regulations. The challenges of running a state are not much different from that of a major corporation when looking at an intrusive federal government.
Armed and Fabulous was a popular segment. Katie Pavlich narrated a panel of women who are all advocates of personal protection. These women are outspoken for their second amendment rights; one was a victim but will never be again, another used her weapon to avoid being killed, and two others chose to be prepared and armed.
John Bolton spoke about the failures of the past administration’s foreign policy. Allies have been ignored or vilified while our adversaries have been given a pass. Mr. Bolten is working to help elect senators with strong foreign policy positions so future policy can remain stable and secure.
Tax reform is a big issue for all conservatives. A discussion was held on what our current tax code does to hamstring a company's ability to compete not only here but abroad. The intent is for a major reform. Included in the discussion was the flat tax and personal filing on a postcard. The IRS has become a huge tyrannical arm of government, and the goal is to dismantle the agency over the coming years. The promise was also made to permanently end the “death tax.” Tied to taxes as an anchor on business is regulation. Again, promises were made to reduce regulation and ensure future regs are appropriate and not a burden.
Carly Fiorina received a very enthusiastic welcome as she came on stage with Arthur Brooks. She reflected on the campaign, and how she felt that most people agreed with conservatism, but they just didn’t know it yet. She spoke of equality of opportunity, and that a concentration of power takes the solutions away from the people who are best suited to solve the problem-- the people and their communities. No one was ever insulted into changing his position. Making a case and using the art of persuasion is vital to bringing people into our camp. We want to lift people up, not beat them down. We need to take power from Washington and return it to the states and people where it belongs. We talk about big ideas, but need to learn to fit it in personal terms, so it resonates with the average person. People need the sense they are needed, from conception to death. The past eight years the president was treated like a king or Rockstar, and it's important that we don’t make that mistake again!
The pro-life movement is alive and well under the new administration. The administration is not afraid of the media’s narrative on abortion. Whether he likes it or not, he has tied his political future to the pro-life movement. They vowed to defund Planned Parenthood, Neil Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme Court, and Trump signed an executive order stopping foreign financial aid for abortion. The latest polls show 65% support for the pro-life stance, and there is hope that the 20-week limit will be passed. Efforts are being made to expose the reality of the horror of abortion through a documentary on Dr. Gosnell.
Look for my personal thoughts on today in a separate posting.