On Saturday, September 28, 2013, my husband and I attended CPAC St. Louis. Of course, it was much smaller than the DC event that was held in March earlier this year. I find it hard to compare the two events. I saw many similar faces, but so many that I expected to see were not in attendance. One thing that I really enjoyed is that certain speakers allowed media-only group interviews where they went more in-depth into their pet topics. I found them enlightening and educational. And yes, being at an event for the first time with media credentials, I fan-boyed out just a little.
The exhibitors section is always fun. This is where I find most of the connecting and conversations seem to take place. Many of the exhibits pertained to Missouri and Illinois only, but for the size of the convention some of the big guns showed up like the NRA, The Heritage Foundation, Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty and the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
I chose to spend the majority of the day sitting in the media section typing notes on my computer. I was not there to win friends and influence people. I wanted to hear the speakers and learn more of what they thought about the conservative movement and where this country was heading.
What follows is a synopsis of some of the speeches I heard.
The Honorable Mike Lee, U.S. Senator (R-UT)
This man’s speech moved me. I found him intelligent and humorous, as he was not afraid to make fun of himself. He has a strong love for this country and a desire to do what is right. He is a young man and has found that he has had to assert himself in the Senate. He reminded us that as Americans, we have to assert ourselves as well. We have to remember why we pledge allegiance to the American flag. He encouraged us to start a national dialog starting with our family and friends. We have to let them know that sitting aside is NOT acceptable. He reminded us that Americans will always have the final word and we should pass that word around and take it back to DC.
With his help with the last non-filibuster filibuster, I expect to see great things from this man. He is willing to lose sleep for what he believes is best for this country.
Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform
This man is wicked smart and calls it like he sees it. I NEED to learn more about him and the agendas he pushes. What drew me into his speech was this line, “We want one thing from the government…we want to be left alone.” I wanted to scream AMEN! He further explained how we need our 2nd Amendment left alone; our personal Religion left alone so we have the ability to practice our individual faith. He reminded us that we all don’t spend our time the same but we agree that we want our freedom…ie gun fan, religion fan, businessman.
He also declared, “Our friends on the left are not friends…they are competing parasites.” There are government parasites on both sides now, are there?
He then talked about the how to get rid of the left and the economy. His solution was in two steps; 1. Don’t raise taxes and 2. Stop spending so much more money. Sound simple doesn’t it?
He reminded us to not be afraid to compromise with the left as long as we move forward but don’t compromise when they mean we lose. We should keep moving forward, but don’t forget to look at your feet so you don’t trip.
The Honorable Tom Leonard, State Representative, Michigan House of Representatives
He mostly talked about the education system, especially the changes that have happened in Michigan. He believes in holding teachers accountable to each student in the classroom by grading how the teaches do. Your students fail…so does your raise. We need to clean out the teachers that are there just for a paycheck. He feels that we should give parents choice in what school their child should attend. He also believes that our failed education system is our civil rights issue of today.
Brenda Talent, Executive Director or Show-Me Institute
This woman’s speech moved me as well. I think she should run for office, but wonder if she can do more on the private circuit.
She declared that we are staring bankruptcy in the face and is the fault of both parties. BOOM! How true is that? She continued by talking about one of the biggest causes….Obamacare. We are finding that employers ditching insurance and employers ditching 40 hr workweek in order to save money and keep their businesses afloat. We have also found that our precious unions originally wanted Obamacare but now don’t….and I thought they were in Obama’s pocket?
She finished her speech with these powerful questions: Is this the hope we were looking for? Is this the change we wanted? What is Obama’s goal for this country? Will you stand for freedom? Do you believe that you can do a better job than government? Do you believe that the welfare state is a failure? Will you fight for what you believe in?
Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, USMC (Ret.), Founder of Freedom Alliance
North believes that this country deserves a leader that can say WIN and VICTORY. He feels that we are threatened when we have a leader that will negotiate with sworn enemies but not our congress and senate leaders. Again, I wanted to scream AMEN!
He reminded us that the government should not spy on our citizens, and maybe spend more time seeing what other countries are doing to hurt this country. He talked about the corruption in the nation’s capital that is running rampant.
He encouraged us to make a commitment today to civil liberties and the constitution, as we owe this to our country, our selves and our children.
He ended his speech with this video to remind us who is fighting for your liberties.
The Honorable Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator
I found myself very engaged with his speech. It was obvious that over the years, he has learned to draw his listeners in. He has figured it out. He talked about how conservatives have to get better at telling stories. This is what moves people, what make people listen. We are good at facts and figures and charts but not good at stories. Conservatives have got to stop playing defense and start playing offense by telling stories. We need to join together and not change who we are. We don’t have to change to win, we just have to do a better job to telling people we care through media the people understand. We need to help moving the gauge of the media.
Santorum had no problem plugging Echolight Studios and their new move “The Christmas Candle.” The movie is about the true meaning of Christmas and is coming out during at the end of November. With this discussion he brought the speech back around to messaging as he said, “Jesus never compromised morals but told stories to tell people what was right.” He talked about how Jesus did use those charts and figures, but through stories told people how to live.
He ended by encouraging us to change how we express our message. We need to start with your family, then your community. We need to be engaged in the conservative movement. He sees people trying to make a difference. We need to quit cursing the darkness and engage!
The Honorable Rick Perry, Governor of Texas
They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and Perry’s speech was no exception. As always, I enjoyed listening to this man but it didn’t move me like he has in the past.
He talked about the culture of Washington being broken. That we can’t afford to spend money to get growth but we can change policies and such to grow our country again. Washington needs to focus on things like securing our borders and defending our constitution instead of spending on healthcare. The national government needs to stop concentrating on education and let the local educators and parents take care of it.
The Honorable Sam Brownback, governor of Kansas
I enjoyed listening to him, as I had never heard him speak before. With his charisma, I can see why he was elected. I can see him reaching for higher political goals. He talked a lot about Kansas and how to become better people and a stronger America.
When he said, “We don’t need to be Europe, we need to be American again.” I was immediately drawn in. It was yet one more AMEN moment for me.
His pro-life stance was obvious when he said, “We have no spare people in the world, we have to stand up and say pro-life and whole-life for everyone.” I had never heard the pro-life and whole-life reference before and I like it. He talked about the government looking at people as problems instead of people.
He then touched on education and education debt being the biggest debt in the USA. He talked about how the state of Kansas started paying 100% tuition to students if they go to an in-state technical school. They are finding that the graduates are working right out of school and doing well. It makes me wonder if the Ivy League schools promise the same results? I know that my technical school education pays my mortgage every month.
He continued by talking about having an education and a changed attitude from bad to good; we need to believe in America exceptionalism as this country is exceptional. We need to remember that when bad things happen, you can either get bitter or better – what path do you want to take?
He wants us to start changing where we are; we don’t have to start with DC. We start at home; we can work and change where we are.
The honorable Eric Burlison, State Representative, Missouri House of Representative
Burlison talked mainly about right-to-work states. These states are growing 2.5x faster than non-right-to-work states. They are finding that salaries are actually growing higher in right to work states.
I felt he was a good and honest man. He impressed me when he said, “I want to vote, vote my conscience…In 40 years I want to look back and see how I helped Missouri grow.”
The honorable Tyler August, State Representative, Wisconsin State Assembly
August believes that conservative government can win the day, but we have to take courage to do what is right. We need to think about the next generation when it comes to the next election and we should do something, not just be something
He ended by reminding us that elected officials work for us and we shouldn’t be afraid to remind them of this.
Bill Norton, National Support Team, Constitutional Coordinator for TeaPartyPatriots.org
Norton started by talking about a conversation with his young daughter about laws and the government that makes laws. Eventually, she asked her father why can’t we just tell the government to stop doing what we don’t agree with. He explained that we can by voting, by calling and writing to our congressmen and senators.
He continued telling the story of this conversation with his daughter. They eventually started talking about Obama, his actions and the effect it is having on this country. She concluded that his sounded more like a king than a president. Norton then asked the audience, “If a girl can figure out why government has taken us back to the days of a king, why can’t the general public?”
He continued by telling us that Progressives say it is us (conservatives) who hate government. We do love our government, but we are mad at it. We just want our government to follow their own rules such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
He ended by claiming that America is a rising sun, we have the ability to be free and we should proclaim liberty throughout all the land.
The Honorable Elise Hall, State Representative, Oklahoma House of Representatives
Hall is proof positive that the next generation is awesome when properly motivated. She believes in hard work and excellence. She is currently one of the youngest members of the Oklahoma House, having been sworn in at the age of 21, the youngest age allowed by the Oklahoma Constitution.
Her parents taught this young woman not what to think, but to think. She said, “I ran because I wanted to make a difference for my generation. I wanted to say I was part of lowering taxes; making sure parents had the right tools to educate their kids.”
Although her speech was short, it was powerful. It was a message to the young conservatives as well as the old. “If you are my age, you have to stand up, you have to get out of your comfort zone, look at the possibility of doing something hard and work hard to obtain it.” She continued, “If you are not my age, encourage those that are my age, believe in us. My generation needs your encouragement to help stand up and make a difference.”
The Honorable Paul Curtman, State Representative, Missouri House of Representatives
Oh my goodness, after listening to him, I wanted to follow him anywhere. It is obvious he is very passionate. His charisma, patriotism and positive attitude spewed off the stage. Word around CPAC was that this is a man to watch as he will become a mover and shaker on a national level, and I believe them. Being a former marine, he is dedicated to this country and it is obvious.
He talked about how the conservative message should be all about liberty and this message is an attractive message. Knowing the principles of liberty will change a person’s life. He said, “Freedom of speech is just as natural as my ability to speak….I believe it is worth fighting for.”
The Honorable Deanna Alexander, 18th District Supervisor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Being married to a pastor, she doesn’t apologize for talking about religion and politics as many conservatives do. It is obvious that God, family and her country and the things that move her life.
In her life she is questioned frequently about being conservative. She said, “When asked, oh are you a conservative, don’t answer a one word answer reply. Ask, what does conservative mean to you?” Isn’t this a question we should all be asking ourselves as well as the left?
She believes that free markets, family values and liberty are the path to progress, and I agree.
Overall, I really enjoyed the conference. Unfortunately, there were several speaker from the U.S. House of Representatives that were scheduled to speak, but were not there. I heard they cancelled due to some healthcare issue and government shutting down. Honestly, I was glad they stayed in DC and were doing their job, as it is what we elected them to do.
Thank you St. Louis and CPAC for the hospitality. I hope to see you all in DC at CPAC in March.