I'm surrounded by a collection of memorabilia from this weekend’s CPAC in Washington DC as I write this letter. Reflecting on the meeting events, it occurs to me that the magic and appeal of CPAC does not come from the political glitterati that sweep in for a speech then leave; but from the people who are on the front lines of preserving conservative values around this nation and abroad. These are MY people, it was an honor to spend quality time with them, instead of the glitterati.
What is CPAC? It is the Conservative Political Action Conference - a yearly event in Washington DC which gathers together conservative supporters, innovators, political leaders, and bloggers for three days of intensive networking and workshops. Of course this event peaked the interest of this Philly conservative-leaning blogger who also happens to be a registered Democrat. Turns out, I wasn't the only democrat present at this event.
Outside of attending VP Cheney's speech, I favored attending smaller panel discussions that peaked my interest. During the course of this whirlwind conference, I chatted briefly with Mark Steyn, traded diva secrets and political wisdom with the incomparable Pamela Gellar. Snagged a bobblehead John Adams figurine. Listened to the raw and unedited experiences of three Iraq/Afghanistan War heros and made sure I thanked each one of them for their service - the bear hug from a Navy Seal was icing on the cake. Took copious notes at a television training seminar. Asked a ton of questions during a New Media discussion panel, took in a screening of Outside the Wire: Anbar Awakening. Supported the Declaration Against Genocide. Shook the hand of John Bolton, Steven Milloy and Rick Santorum. Met nationally recognized bloggers whom I consider legends. Lost my cell phone only to have it returned to me by Mary Katherine Ham. John Hawkins of RightWingNews was instrumental in getting me a seat at the Ronald Reagan Banquet where I stood and cheered the loudest when Philly's own Dr. Alan C. Kors was presented with the Academic Freedom Award.
The weekend was not without any issues. Exploring the exhibit hall, I made a point to seek out the conservative women's rights groups. Talking with them, I took issue with the lack of response by these groups to the recent use by al-queda of mentally challenged women as suicide bombers. They seemed interested in my issue and I hope this leads them to a closer examination of womens rights across the globe. It was noted that the National Organization of Women was not present at the meeting, I would have liked to get their statement on this issue.
While in the company of my political and activist peers, my perception of conservatism was both challenged and enhanced. There is more to learn and much work to be done. I will end this letter and get to that work with a renewed sense of hope for a brighter future.