CPAC 2013 was a blast! Great speeches, great breakout sessions. Not every speaker was everyone's cup of tea, and there were many passionate discussions of differences. But no one who attended could fail to be challenged to think more deeply about the critical issues we face today not just as conservatives, libertarians, Tea Partiers and/or Republicans, but as Americans; and to come away energized and determined to redouble our efforts to restore constitutional democracy, fiscal sanity, strength abroad, prosperity at home and the liberty that America has always stood for.
The rock stars of the show were very accessible. I got to shake the hands and in several cases exchange books with such heavyweights as: Ben Carson; Senator Ted Cruz; Senator Jim DeMint (new president of the Heritage Foundation); John Allison of the Cato Institute; Betsy McCaughey whose work fighting socialized medicine has been an inspiration for 20 years; Todd Cefaratti of TheTeaParty.net; C.L. Gray M.D., founder and president of Physicians for Reform Foundation, whose new film on socialized medicine The Determinators is a must-see; Charles Murray, author of Losing Ground, which exposed the failures of the welfare state in the eighties; Shawn Akers, Dean of the Helms School of Government at Liberty University in Lynchburg VA; Robert Spencer, Frank Gafney, Ann Coulter and many other leaders of the conservative and Tea Party movements.
A personal highlight was the public speaking seminar led by Ian Ivey, sponsored by The Leadership Institute. Not just a technical presentation on body language, breathing, eye contact, audience rapport etc., all of which was excellent; but also very entertaining demonstrations of what not ever EVER to even think about doing, and deep, incisive digressions on philosophy, religion and economics (upshot: read Human Action by Ludwig Von Mises).
There were also many opportunities to engage the media and get the message out beyond the Gaylord hotel. I did several radio and TV interviews including the John Justice's show on Tucson's KQTH 104.1, Sean Casey on Baltimore's AM680 WCBM, the Tea Party News Network (TPNN) and others.
The most heartening aspect of the conference was the presence of the young people: 54% of the attendees were under the age of 26. This was not a reunion of greying eminences reminiscing about glory days that will never return; it was an uplifting, energetic and long-range future-focused strategy session. These young people get it that their future has been mortgaged, that the prosperity of their parent's generation is being robbed from them and that their college education has by design kept them ignorant. I met second-year law students who have not read Bastiat, aren't even familiar with the name, when Batiat's The Law should be the fist text any student reads on day one if not sooner. I met economics majors who have not read Adam Smith, Thomas Sowell, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Reisman or Ludwig Von Mises.
But they will read them now. And they will spread the word. They are determined to remain ignorant no longer but to reclaim their future.
Thank you to all the wonderful new friends I made. It was well worth it. Have a safe flight home. And don't give up; together we will pull America back from the brink.