WASHINGTON — The American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference has grown larger and more powerful each year since it began in 1974. It is, by far, the country's largest annual gathering of conservatives and a barometer of their success and enthusiasm.
The 2020 CPAC, which runs through Sunday, showcases a free-market, anti-socialist, pro-American juggernaut as the November election draws near. CPAC devours threats of "Democratic socialism" like energy drinks.
By running a slate of the farthest-left candidates in the history of American politics, the Democratic Party has ignited a conservative reawakening one does not hear of in the mainstream national press.
Vice President Mike Pence spoke Thursday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and Brexit leader Nigel Farage were among Friday's speakers. Trump will speak Saturday.
Regardless of the topics, the message always returns to life is good and only getting better in the USA. CPAC attendees and speakers believe nearly every American is better off today than four years ago. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Try "fixing" it and they will try stopping you.
The day-and-night talkathon combines thousands of economic conservatives, isolationist conservatives, interventionist conservatives, neo-conservatives, paleo-conservatives, the religious right, secularist social conservatives, "Gault's Gulch" libertarians, unaffiliated voters, a handful of curious liberals, Democrats and more. Anyone who considers this a monolithic movement of groupthink has never been to CPAC. Seemingly limitless cocktail parties connect right-leaning journalists, lawyers, politicos and grassroots activists.
"To read the itinerary is to be amazed at the success of conservatism," explains National Review. "Over the past few decades, it has gone from 'irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas,' in Lionel Trilling's infamous 1950 description, to a full-fledged movement."
Despite polite internal disagreements about same-sex marriage, legalized pot, abortion and interventionist policies, one common philosophy unites everyone at CPAC. It is a conviction that the United States is a force of good in the world and should put its own interests first. Socialism is antithetical to the United States and must be stopped.
The "America first" doctrine of President Donald Trump has reunited and energized this hodge-podge movement that last peaked during the Reagan Revolution of the 1980s. Words on a page cannot convey the energy at the sold-out 2.4 million-square-foot Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. This crowd exudes confidence that Republicans will maintain the White House, the Senate and take back the House in November. It is hard to find any semblance of negativity.
Attendees and speakers at CPAC do not convey grievances. They believe the country has reached a level of success never seen since its inception. They want more of the same, not a change in course.
White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow and Ivanka Trump spelled it out by presenting a litany of economic indicators that show improved lifestyles for women, minorities, millennials, blue-collar workers and all other Americans. Reduced taxes and regulations, they argue, have created unprecedented opportunities to seek and obtain meaningful and gainful employment.
"For the first time in history, there are more women working in the workforce than there are men," Ivanka Trump said. "Of all new jobs added last year, 72% went to women ... Women are winning, but everyone is winning."
Kudlow assured the audience the coronavirus cannot take down the American economy. Conversely, socialism almost guarantees economic failure.
"The American model of free enterprise will whip socialism every time hands down," Kudlow said. " ... The doctrine here is freedom and awarding success and individual enterprise and using all of our God-given talents."
If advocates of socialism are selling out massive resorts to celebrate their cause, we are not seeing it. Regardless, leading candidates in the Democratic presidential primary are running on the hope a good chunk of the country thinks something is terribly wrong. They advocate turning against two centuries of American free enterprise.
November's election won't be about candidates and their personalities. This election will test two competing and disparate ideas: free-market capitalism and redistributionist socialism.
The socialist movement will need substantial momentum to compete. Defenders of capitalism are organized like never before and anxious to fight for their cause. They fear socialist chic threatens their families, businesses, finances, values and lifestyles. They are well-informed, articulate, confident and committed to winning at any cost.
REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE
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