Monday, March 7, 2016

CPAC Year Two: The Return

I knew going into this year, that it would be impossible to top last year's experience, but I also knew that I was walking into a whole different event than I had the year before. This was CPAC: The Election Year.

Other than everything being bigger, brighter and bolder, the event hadn't changed as much as I did. My first year as you can read in my previous post was full of delight and wonderment of the variety of the Conservative Event of the Year. If last year was my "coming out" party, this year was one of redemption and rejuvenation.

This past year has been a whirlwind, on so many levels both personally, professionally & politically for me. There was no way I could head into CPAC the wide eyed new comer I was last year, so again the anxiety returned.  However it was soon replaced with an odd peace of mind knowing I have chosen Principles over damn near everything this year and I had no reason to hang my head.

So that's how I entered this past weekend, excited to see friends old & new, while looking forward to all the networking meetings, on air broadcasts and the occasional side eye. First thing I should tell you Everyone likes you at the beginning that can change, just be yourself and You will find your people.

CPAC was a mad house filled with people of all shapes, sizes and colors. Including many ladies with Pink hair and very visible tattoos. This pleased me.

One of the absolute highlights this year at CPAC was the youth involvement & engagement. These kids' parents should be proud.  Those in the college age years were out in full force ready to stand for Liberty. They don't speak in platitudes and they give me such hope for our future.  I was in College Republicans but I was never as committed as these kids are.  They also aren't all the stuffy "weird kids" you're imaging.

Quite the opposite, these young voters are smart, funny and cute. The adorable elephant mini-skirts pleased more than one attendee of that I'm certain.  Feeling pretty good about conservatism if people like Benjie Backer and Bethany Bowra are around too. Born leaders are finding their way to the only place that welcomes free thinkers, Conservatism.

Of course no one wants to hear about that... everyone wants to know about Trump.  Here's what I know. Many more people are Against him than are with him. His decision to bail on CPAC only increased the number of those supporting the #NeverTrump movement.

Yes people talked about Trump, but none of it was overtly positive, so that was refreshing to say the least. There were rumors of a planned Anti-Trump Protest before he pulled out at the last minute. Reports are that his supporters complained about these mysterious Orange Ribbons that people were wearing. Ribbons that were a silent protest of sorts, meaning one thing, #NeverTrump.  I'll admit.. I was part of the "Orange Ribbon Rebellion" of 2016.

If we had anything to do with him not coming. Good.

Moving on to the really important stuff..

During the day, the offerings of seminars, break out sessions and conversations just expanded over last year, which gave everyone a place to find those of a "similar mindset". If you are truly interested in learning more about a specific issue or want to get involved, mark your calendar for CPAC 2017.

Last year I told you there were no "Cool Kids" at CPAC. I stand by that statement, there really is a group for everyone.  If you haven't been.... Go for that experience alone.  Find Your People.

Everyone is cordial to everyone (for the most part) even those You see fighting online all day long with each other.  Which probably tells you even more all by itself.

In any social situation  you're going to run into people who aren't well mannered, and CPAC is no exception. You just have to deal with it as you would any other situation. Be the bigger person, smile & move on.  It's called being "civil".  This was observed by nearly everyone without a word being said this weekend.

As for me I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to broadcast live several times from Media Row with my co-host Jim Geraghty, as well as by myself, even being a guest on a few other shows. After rushing through the secret service line more than once. An ill conceived and poorly executed system to protect the nominees, or so I'm told.

Some of the gatherings I attended, the happy hours, the panels allowed me to further secure my own future in ways that I hope to be able to share very soon.

In the evenings, there were even more parties and gatherings than last year with fewer "invite only" parties, so I think that speaks volumes about the supposed "rift" between conservatives.  It's not real.  Everyone was welcomed everywhere.

We ended the week with another low key private dinner with friends, which was good as I was already losing my voice from all the talking.

As I looked around the table this year, much less frozen, more battle tested than the previous year.. inside I smiled at the week that had been... and thought "We've a long way to go...but *these* are the people who are going to get us there".

Already looking forward to CPAC 2017.

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