Each year, conservatives from around the country gather at CPAC, in a 4 day frenzy of workshops, speakers, events, meet and greets, conservative celebs, candidates, lawmakers and news media. Since 1973, the American Conservative Union has organized the event, and the CPAC straw poll has been a harbinger of politics for decades.
Last year's event was reported to have mixed support for the newly inaugurated president. Some conservatives still had doubts about Donald Trump and whether or not he would live up to his conservative campaign overtures.
CPAC 2018 was evidence that Donald Trump has proven himself to conservatives, and more. They love him, and the annual conservative event was nearly turned into a Donald Trump love fest, complete with Hillary impersonator in prison garb and chains. Trump shirts and MAGA hats were everywhere, most notably on Friday when Trump addressed the CPAC crowd live. The audience was awash in the famous red hats, and the standing room only crowd greeted the President with standing ovation after standing ovation.
Most notable were the large numbers of college students, proudly sporting their Trump support. An entire new generation of conservatives brought a youthful energy and enthusiasm to CPAC, and defied the MSM narrative that young people don't like Trump.
Young people weren't the only demographics breaking the MSM rule of "Trump supporters are straight white males". LGBT conservatives waved their rainbow Gadsen flag, Latinas for Trump sported their bold trademark t-shirts, and the nation's most active black conservatives came out in force to this year's conservative conference.
Additionally, policy discussions were more diverse. Workshops on prison reform, panels on urban issues, drug legalization advocates, social media censorship were held side by side with pro-life panels, tax reform discussions, and traditional conservative topics. Republicans, at least the ones that attend CPAC are indeed opening up the "big tent" to the ideas of the new kids on the conservative block, the Trump supporters.
The Fake News as usual focused on it's false narrative, both in it's reporting of CPAC and it's reporting AT the event as well. While slight moments of schedule changes, and momentary issues with a panel or two were by far rare occurrences, as was the single protester at Trump's speech, these are the stories already being shared across left wing social media.
To attendees like myself, the whole of the convention was filled with a family spirit. Attendees were engaged in events and workshops, countless conservative celebrities walked the halls greeting guests, the speakers were well attended, most especially Vice President Pence and of course President Trump. The halls were a constant meet and greet party, and many people forewent a workshop or two just to see which famous person might be walking through. Eric Bolling, Judge Jeanine, Sebastion Gorka, Matt Schlap, Sheriff Clark, Devon Nunes, Nigel Farage, Katrina Pierson, even former candidate Gary Johnson was at CPAC, to name just a few. The energy in the convention was positive, despite MSM spin to the contrary.
The media also seemed focused on making fake news an issue AT the event, as most reporters felt compelled to include in every interview a question about gun control and the recent shooting. While the CPAC attendees are of course are in support of the second amendment, the media seemed desperate to use the recent tragedy as leverage against the prevailing pro-gun stance. In interview after interview, reporters pivoted off the issues that concern conservatives and asked question after question about gun control. Media row was a living, breathing example of the MSM all sharing one narrative and objective in their reporting rather than reporting the news at hand.
The issue that most interested CPAC goers was the 2018 midterms, not gun control. The conversations between people invariably returned to the importance of the midterms, and the need to focus on sending the President more Republican votes in the House in Senate. Though the topic was on the lips of every conservative present, it was rarely asked about by MSM interviewers.
Multiple "MAGA Candidates" (pro-Trump) made their cases to voters, having traveled from as far as California to come to CPAC and tap into conservatives and Trumpers to grow support for their campaigns. The groundswell of citizen candidates only added to the electricity and melting pot, big tent feeling.
You won't hear this in the "journalism" of the main stream, but the conservative movement is truly changing. It is becoming more animated, more energized, and is infused with a new batch of Trump conservatives that have brought excitement back to promoting conservative principles. Under the Trump umbrella, Black conservatives, Hispanic conservatives, LGBT conservatives, traditional conservatives, small "L" libertarians, women and other groups outside the "white male" narrative have come together around conservative principles, and the American Conservative Union and CPAC stand to benefit from this new conservative diversity.
Talk of CPAC 2019 started before the 2018 conference had come to a close. This year's attendees are already saving the date and interest is percolating among those who missed out this year and are planning on NOT missing out on 2019. The organization has a chance to grow by embracing the Trump Train and it's conservative passengers, and 2018 showed that CPAC is willing and ready to adapt to the prevailing conservative winds. Next year will most likely be even larger as more Trump supporters across the nation start to see CPAC as a pro-Trump convention.