Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual gathering of conservatives held in National Harbor, Maryland. I had first heard about CPAC during the 2016 election cycle, when many of the Republican candidates for President spoke at the conference, and I jumped on the opportunity to attend this year.
Every year, CPAC features four days of dialogue and speeches headlined by major conservative activists and thinkers. Some of the most notable media personalities who spoke at the conference this year included Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, Tom Fitton, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, and many more. Additionally, numerous Republican politicians use CPAC as a platform to spread their message to the conservative movement. Some of the most notable lawmakers appearing this year included Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Rep. Mark Meadows (NC-11), Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04), and Rep. Devin Nunes (CA-22), as well as Sen. Lindsay Graham (SC), Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Josh Hawley (MO), and Sen. Kevin Cramer (ND). To top it all off, the main headliners of this year's conference were Vice President Mike Pence and the President of the United States himself, Donald Trump.
With the theme of the conference this year being “What Makes America Great," most of the speakers used their time to promote freedom and capitalism as the main factors of American greatness. This was a clear attempt at creating a contrast with the ideas of socialism that some Democratic candidates for President in 2020 are promoting. Speakers emphasized that socialist policies serve as a threat to the success of the American economy and would destroy the fabric of American life if implemented. Furthermore, the focal point of much of CPAC was ensuring a unified conservative movement which will continue to “fight on” against the threat of socialism and to support President Donald Trump in his reelection campaign to “Keep America Great” in 2020.
The most memorable moment of this year’s CPAC was President Trump’s appearance on Saturday. In a speech that lasted around 2 hours, Trump largely went “off script,” and had a delivery that felt more like that of a campaign rally to kick off his 2020 campaign than that of a presidential address. President Trump covered a wide variety of topics including the economy, the Mueller Investigation, border security, and the Green New Deal. While many critics described the speech as being incoherent and unhinged, the audience, filled to capacity while chanting “four more years” and wearing Trump’s trademark “Make America Great Again” hats, seemed to be loving every minute of the President’s speech.
According to the Chairman Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union, the organization that hosts CPAC, this year’s conference was the “biggest and best we have ever seen.” My personal favorite experience of this year's conference was being able to meet so many conservatives from all walks of life and different parts of the country, including fellow college students and veterans. I even got a few selfies with some of the speakers themselves! It was amazing to experience first hand the energy that exists in the conservative movement and the enthusiasm for the continual success of America.
Overall, I had a great time going to CPAC for the first time and I definitely plan on attending next year, as it should be really exciting with the 2020 election right around the corner. CPAC 2020 is scheduled for February 26-29, 2020 in National Harbor, Maryland. Come join me!
Ryan Singsank is a freshman from Pacific Palisades, CA and is a member of the GW College Republicans Publications Committee. The opinions expressed on this blog are his own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official views of the GW College Republicans.