The 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) opened last Thursday morning in Washington D.C. The conference is hosted annually by the American Conservative Union (ACU), serving as a preview for upcoming presidential elections, as well as platforms for rising political stars and retired political figures.
The 2011 conference featured speeches by Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, both of whom will presumably be in the running for President of the United States in 2012. Other notable speakers included former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and Michelle Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota.
Nine Suffolk University students made the trip to Washington for the three day event. The SuffolkGOP members were able to procure funds for travel accommodations from the Suffolk Finance Committee in order to attend.
Glen Jackman, SuffolkGOP secretary, credited Vice President Scott Zalatoris for organizing the trip, saying “he really put a lot of effort into it… everything went perfectly.”
For those who were unable to attend the trip, the conference was broadcast via live streaming on the ACU website and speeches are archived on conservative.org.
To view CPAC merely as a gathering of like minded people would be selling it short. Virtually all of the speakers shared their criticism of the current administration, but that was the extent of their similarities. “There were extremes of the Republican Party,” Jackman said. “You had your libertarians, and you also had your Bible-pushing conservatives.”
CPAC is a place to observe the evolution of conservative politics. “It was surprising how the tea party was a real driving force behind CPAC this year,” Jackman said. “[It’s] not necessarily what I had expected.”
To some, that may conjure up visions of Sarah Palin preaching to a crowd of admirers. To many, that would probably be the point at which they lost interest altogether. That however, is a false picture of CPAC itself. Sarah Palin herself was absent at the conference, which is one of the biggest and most important events in conservative politics. Michele Bachmann appears to be the new frontrunner of the tea party movement. Whether or not somebody agrees, disagrees, or is even concerned with these types of politics, they are still going contribute to the 2012 campaign and our history.
The 2011 CPAC also had its fair share of controversy. Dick Cheney was met with a less than enthusiastic crowd, with members of the audience yelling out, calling him a “war criminal,” and “draft dodger.” Many who are less conservative are visibly distancing themselves from all things Bush and all things Palin as a way to reconnect with moderate voters.
Conversely, there was some controversy surrounding the participation of GOProud, an organization of conservative homosexuals and transgenders. Many potential speakers and sponsors boycotted the 2011 event because of its GOProud partnership. The new chairman of the ACU, Al Cardenas, supported by other social conservatives, is considering dropping GOProud as a sponsor.
Those who were able to attend the 2011 CPAC saw politics in action, unfolding right in front of them.