Taking a break from their civic duties on Capitol Hill and their respective government roles, over 70 speakers came down to the 40th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference to deliver a message of hope, optimism, and unity. The message of CPAC this year was clear and distinct, “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives.”
Thousands of aspiring young Republicans in need of a message flooded into the posh National Harbor conference center. CPAC was robust, engaging spectators in a vast variety of networking events, speakers, panels, and conferences. Naturally, CPAC focused on dismantling the poor decisions and leadership of Democrats, but it also emphasized going back to true Conservative principals, that led to significant Republican dominance and entitlement reforms in the 90s.
There was no shortage of audacious messages concerning the direction of the GOP, and what it must do to once again reclaim governance on the political scene. However, a select variety of speeches captured the attention and imaginations of many hopeful spectators. Speaking out against the Republican dependency on unreliable, greedy consultants, Democratic pollster Pat Caddell delivered, “When you have the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee and the political director of the Romney campaign, and their two companies get $150 million at the end of the campaign for the ‘fantastic’ get-out-the-vote program… some of this borders on RICO [the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violations.”
Converging on the dismal state of the United States’ economy, Dr. Benjamin Carson, a neurosurgeon at John Hopkins, provided his humble view on where Obama is taking the country, “Let’s say somebody were in the White House and they wanted to destroy this nation,” Carson hypothesized. “I would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military. It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now.”
Nevertheless, CPAC did not lack optimism, which was embodied in the speeches delivered by Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul which electrified the crowd. Fresh off his superstar performance of delivering a thirteen hour filibuster against illegal drone attacks on US soil, Paul solidified his message that “the GOP has grown old and moss covered.” Rubio, on par with CPAC’s message, articulated proudly that, “We don’t need a new idea. There is an idea. The idea is called America and it still works.”
The overall climate of CPAC was more than optimistic—it provided hope and aspirations to everyday Americans who were in dire need of it. Establishment candidates, such as Romney and McCain, were shunned, and the focus was brought to electing the candidate of the people, for the people, chosen by the people. Weariness and a feeling of despondency circled around nominating yet another RINO candidate that was sure to falter among the Conservative base.
Sentiments regarding Big Government were wholeheartedly negative, as the GOP solidified its message about fighting for the Tea Party movement—small government, lower taxes, and bringing the power back to the states.
NRA CEO, Wayne LaPierre, captivated the audience with his positive temperament regarding the emotionally draining debate about gun control. He denounced universal background checks saying that they “will never make our streets safer” and bluntly told the Left establishment to “keep your advice, and we’ll keep our guns.”
Preceding Ted Cruz’s commencement speech, the results of the 2013 CPAC Straw Poll were announced. Unsurprisingly, Paul and Rubio garnered 50% of the vote, further coagulating their position as Conservative leaders. Cruz followed up charismatically by mocking Obama’s “scare America tour” and cheerfully announced that “Conservatives are winning!”
The path to a Conservative victory in 2016 is distant and uncertain. Yet, as the 2014 Congress midterms approach, the GOP must focus on retaining its Conservative base and vetting for small government, lower taxes, and a healthy economy for not just Republicans, but for America as a whole. Establishment candidates will simply not get the job done anymore, as the people call for determined Conservatives who truly uphold the Constitution and want to make a change for the better.
– Piotr Pietruczuk
(Featured photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons, Flickr)