I came to CPAC for two reasons. First and foremost, I am here to cover the event for Madison’s and Lanterns. However, as a conservative writer, I have a natural curiosity as to what would be said and where the speakers see the nation needs to move.
CPAC is set up with nearly nonstop speakers and discussions. Outside the main ballroom is media row where dozens of media outlets have radio and TV production, and then in smaller rooms are events that might be of interest to smaller groups, book signings, and such. Scattered through the day are the “big” names who draw the larger crowds in the main ballroom-- Sheriff David Clarke, Nigel Farage, Mark Levin, Ted Cruz, and of course, the President and Vice President.
It seems most of the “good meat” is coming from the lesser known speakers. Dana Loesch and Wayne LaPierre can certainly light up the crowd talking about the second Amendment. All the “points” of the conservative movement were discussed, largely in a pep rally style aimed at exciting the base and achieving a unity that has been elusive.
There has been a lot of talk of love of God, guns, and country. Even the President talked of the Flag in reference to some of the disrespect shown to our standard at many protests. The sanctity of life, lower taxes, fewer regulations and smaller government all receive multiple mentions, but is that what conservatism is?
To this writer, America is an idea. It’s not a flag or a constitution or a government. The idea is that people are inherently free and self-reliant. Conservatives are to “conserve” this principle. The flag is a visual symbol of the idea. The Declaration was the outline of the idea while the Bill of Rights and Constitution are the guardians of the principle, the fence around the valuable property.
Honestly, I have not yet heard much in this line of thinking. As I mentioned above, there are unknown and less dynamic speakers who actually have touched on some of this. I’m not saying this is a waste of time at all, events such as this are necessary to help energize people. And again, much is going on outside the main room, and it is impossible for one person to see it all.
Carly Fiorina probably has come the closest to putting the idea and a plan together. See her discussion with Arthur Brooks here.
Generally speaking, conservatives are terrible at communicating the idea and how that translates into a better world for all. I am trying to learn to do a better job. Preaching to the choir does not grow our movement, but only helps to stagnate it.