Stone Washington
CPAC 2018: 45 years of conservative revolution
By Stone Washington
March 20, 2018

"For more than four decades, this event has served as a forum for our nation's top leaders, activists, writers, and thinkers. Year after year, leaders have stood on this stage to discuss what we can do together to protect our heritage, to promote our culture, and to defend our freedom. CPAC has always been about big ideas, and it has also been about putting those ideas into action – and CPAC really has put a lot of ideas into action."

~President Donald Trump, CPAC speech

What is CPAC?

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is an annual conservative conference hosted by the American Conservative Union (ACU) that gathers conservative activists, elected officials, and media personalities from across America, to participate in a four-day event. Founded in 1964, the ACU is not only responsible for organizing and hosting CPAC, it serves as a productive conservative organization that ranks political candidates based on their level of conservatism and advocates for the perpetuation of conservative policy in Washington. The ACU is the oldest and original conservative lobbying organization in the country, serving to promote America's founding principles for 54 years. CPAC was founded in conjunction with the Young America's Foundation and has hosted many prominent speakers, including former President Ronald Reagan, who delivered a keynote address in 1974 and later during his first term in 1985. Every year since 1973, ACU proudly hosts CPAC, which is credited as being the largest gathering of its kind, taking place in or near Washington DC. CPAC has become a hotly attended venue for a plethora of political involved individuals; from America's leading politicians and even Presidents, to young conservative activists on college campuses.

In its historic 45th Anniversary, CPAC 2018 was held at the Gaylord Center in Oxon Hill Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC just outside of Alexandria Virginia. It was a momentous gathering of conservatives, who, according to Chairman of the ACU Matt Schlapp, gained the largest audience in CPAC History, largely due to the appearance of President Donald Trump. Trump, who is no stranger to CPAC's exciting climate, became the first President in U.S History to speak at CPAC for two consecutive years, having first spoke in 2011 and later 2017. Upon attending CPAC for the first time this year, I was introduced to an amazing realm of patriotic freedom-pursuing Americans, all exuberant to participate in the largest gathering of conservatives, amid the historic Trump Era of politics.

I attended the event as an intern from the Heritage Foundation, volunteering to spread the word about my organization from Heritage's unique booth, centrally located at the very front of the center. It was a truly liberating and exciting experience, where I was able to meet with many prominent conservatives, including: John Bolton, Sebastian Gorka, Oliver McGee, and Joy Villa, while signing up many to become members of the Heritage Foundation. In this article, I will endeavor to explain the profound impact that CPAC has made this year, analyzing excerpts from key speeches during the event that touched upon the leading issues in American politics today. I will touch upon the most pressing topics discussed, including – preserving the Second Amendment, nuclear missile threats, successes of the Trump Administration, and the ongoing war against the Big Lie media.

NRA Spokeswoman Dana Loesch defends the Second Amendment and bashes the Big Lie Media

DANA LOESCH: Now I'm gonna say something that some people are going to say is controversial, so I'll say it really slowly so all the people on the platform in the back can hear me loud and clear. Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys would love it. Now I'm not saying that you love the tragedy, but I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back, and notice I said crying "white" mothers because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend and you don't see town halls for them do you?

Where's the CNN Town Hall for Chicago where's the CNN Town Hall for sanctuary cities? Where was the CNN Town Hall for Jamil Shaw senior, whose son was murdered by someone who illegally entered the country and had been deported repeatedly? Where was his voice? Where was the voice of those Junior ROTC members last night CNN?... If it bleeds it leads doesn't it? And I don't mean to ignore you all here, but I'm really looking at a lot of the legacy media back there on the platform. And you can write whatever you want about me, and you can come find me in the hallways, and you can scream at me, and you can try to confront me, but I'm here we're here; we're not going anywhere.

Dana Loesch, speaking on protecting the Second Amendment at CPAC

DANA LOESCH: I think it was insane that I was the hardest questioner on the Broward County Sheriff last night. How is that possible? – Washington, Navy Yard, Garland Texas, Fort Hood, Charleston, Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando, Parkland; do you know what all of these mass tragedy incidents involved? FBI dropped the ball... they dropped the ball. Now if all of those in the legacy media are arguing for the NRA to give us the authority and the resources to go and follow up on these red flag events, I'll volunteer right here.

Now to do it, we have resources available at anyone's disposal if they want to reinforce their schools, but I'll say it again loud and clear we're parents too, and I believe as the millions of members that make up the NRA and I think millions of people just in the United States in general, don't you think our kids deserve the same protection as our celebrities don't you all think that our kids deserve the same protection as our athletes as our banks as our as our businesses, but yet we leave them the most unprotected. I want you to all ask yourselves where are the stories about how only 38 states submit less than 80% of criminal convictions to the background check system. It's only as good as what submitted to it. How many of you knew that now that's why isn't Diane Feinstein calling for that? I have to question whether or not they want this system to fail.

Here's the stat for you, from 1950 to July of 2016 98.4% of mass shootings have taken places and taken place of gun-free zones. That's a fact.

ANALYSIS: Loesch finishes strong with a powerful comparison between the failures of the FBI ignoring the 39 red flag warnings, the imposition of gun-free zones, and the lack of criminal accountability for back-ground checks. She rightfully holds the Democrats accountable for supporting measures of restrictive gun control that would in actuality make innocents more vulnerable to another potential mass shooting. Similar to her impassioned defense of firearms at the CNN Townhall, Loesch builds an excellent critique for why Americans should protect and preserve the Second Amendment to arm not disarm innocents in light of recent mass shootings. She brilliantly coins the phrase: "If it bleeds it reads" to vividly expose how the Big Lie media politicizes nearly every mass shooting, just to boost ratings, without truly caring for the deceased or respecting the wishes of the mourning families at a loss.

Vice President Pence recaps many of the innumerable accomplishments in Trump's Year One

MIKE PENCE: But what a year. You know when President Trump addressed you last February he declared in his words that our victory was a victory and a win for conservative values, and so it was And now he and I are both back here at CPAC this week to thank you for everything you've done to advance our cause. Because of your support in this past year it's been a year of action. It's been a year of remarkable results... in a word it's been a year of promises made and promises kept. Let me think about President Trump's promise to rebuild our military and restore the arsenal of democracy and in just a few weeks he'll sign the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. He promised to stand without apology for the men and women of law enforcement and today we're once again giving those peace officers the respect and the resources they deserve.

All across America President Trump promised to enforce our laws secure our borders and today illegal crossings at our southern border have been cut nearly in half. And make no mistake about it we're gonna build that wall. He promised to appoint strong conservatives to the federal courts at every level, and President Trump came through. He appointed Justice Neal Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and set a record for the most Circuit Court judges appointed in the first year of any administration in history. And President Donald Trump promised to stand for the unalienable right to life and from the first day of this administration he reinstated the Mexico City policy. And I was honored to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to send a bill to the President's desk to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood.

Vice President Pence at CPAC

ANALYSIS: Vice President Pence crafts most of his speech around a powerful declaration concerning the record successes of the Trump Administration, following through on nearly all of the promises that they've made since running for office in 2016. Vice President Pence voices how under President Trump, America has seen major gains and record performance in its immigration policy, appointing judges, tax reform, job creation, and a host of other areas. It is clear by Vice President Pence's optimistic message, that the rate of success by the Trump Administration far surpasses that of any other in History.

On the economy, we've unleashed American energy, approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines and President Trump put America first when he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord and we've been busy rolling back the heavy hand of government as well. This President has actually repealed 22 regulations for every new federal rule put on the books. And finally, President Trump promised to cut taxes across the board for working families and job creators, and two months ago today, President Trump signed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history. Promises made... promises kept. And on the world stage, we've also been restoring strong American leadership, and under President Donald Trump America once again stands without apology as leader of the free world. Our NATO allies are contributing more to our common defense than ever before, and for decades after one president after another promised to move the US embassy to the capital of our most cherished ally, President Trump made history on December 6 when the United States of America recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Education Policy

KAY COLES JAMES: She [Betsy DeVos] is an incredible woman, one that I have admired and loved and respected for so many years and when from the very minute I heard what is at the heart and soul of this woman, which is to provide equal educational opportunities for the kids in this country. That is the very essence of who she is and we want to thank you. Join me in thanking her. Let me start off with a softball, knowing who you are knowing your passion, or in your commitment, knowing everything about you, there are many things you could be doing with your life right now... why did you decide to do this?

BETSY DEVOS: Well thank you Kay. Let me first begin by thanking you for your very kind words and let me remind you that there are many other things you could do with your life right now, and so you know I think we both are in the best places that we are for a time like this. We have opportunity to help make change and bring greater opportunity, for in my case, I have been an advocate for all kids for over 30 years for the opportunity to have a great future and a great education, but an equal opportunity for all children. And that has fueled my passion for many years, and it's even a greater passion now.

President Kay James interviews Secretary DeVos at CPAC

KAY COLES JAMES: Hmm... well one of the things that I'm fond of saying is that some people have school choice. The wealthy, but connected, and the elected they have it what are you doing at the department right now to assure that all students have that opportunity?

BETSY DEVOS: Well we are first of all carrying out the duties of the apartment the department and right now in k-12 world that includes the implementation of every student succeeds act, which I think if states take the opportunities afforded them through the act will bring many more opportunities and much more flexibility for schools to meet students' needs and to address the needs of individual students. In complement to that, we can continue to advocate for the most education policy to happen at the state level, and many states have taken significant steps to offer parents and empower parents with more choices for their children's education. I'm urging and encouraging states to even double down on that and for those who have not yet taken those steps to do so, we have an opportunity also from the federal level to partner with States.

In that regard and there will be more on that in the in the coming months, but there's also opportunities at the federal level to look at areas where the federal government is directly involved, and I think specifically around military connected families. And I know for a fact that there are more than a third of military families active-duty military families that have school-age children their decisions about where they go or where they don't go or whether they continue to serve hinge very heavily on the opportunities they have for their children's education. And so, I think we have an opportunity in that regard to empower them with some more of those choices.

ANALYSIS: President of my organization, the Heritage Foundation, Kay James asks many vital questions concerning the role of education for children in America and the current opportunities granted to them. Secretary DeVos provides a summative look into her passion to work as Education Secretary for the Trump Administration, voicing concern over the lack of opportunities for students in school and those seeking alternatives to college, such as trade school. Both James and DeVos agree on the importance to pass the Military ESA Bill in Congress, which would create savings accounts for active military families seeking to go to a school of their choice, following their military service. The discussion provides an interesting look into how Heritage and the Trump Administration are seeing eye-to-eye concerning many aspects of education reform in America.

Former Ambassador John Bolton discussing National Security threat of China to U.S

JOHN BOLTON: Well it's great to be here, and this is I think the issue for the United States in the 21st century is how to deal with rising China and, on the military side, I think it's important as we look at this question that we send China a single short clear message – You will never prevail over the United States. What China is doing is engaging in one of the most massive and rapid military buildups in international history. It's expanding its nuclear weapons capability. It's expanding its ballistic missiles, its modernizing its extensive conventional forces. It's building the first blue water Navy in China's history in the last 600 years.

It has one of the world's most extensive cyber warfare programs, one of the most advanced anti-satellite programs to knock our intelligence-gathering equipment out of the sky. It has anti-access area denial weapon, Rita, to push the United States Navy back from the shores of the Western Pacific, where we've provided security since 1945. They've got Japan and South Korea worried they are creating a Chinese province in the South China Sea. They're building naval bases on rocks and reefs that are a good two or three inches out of the water and that would give them the ability to turn these international waters into a Chinese Lake to cut off the oil that flows from the Middle East, to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and to establish dominance there. And its goal is beyond that today.

China is mapping the seabed in the Indian Ocean, why not? Because they're looking for fish? I can tell you that, but because they are prepared to challenge India in their own neighborhood. They're building up a capability to put ballistic missile submarines out there and hide them even from us. They've engaged in the kind of strategic thinking that we can only dream about. You've probably heard the One Belt One Road initiative, which is an infrastructure plan to link all of the countries in Eurasia to China of a by the maritime Silk Road, as they call it, and the communications and transportation infrastructure in Asia. This is a massive undertaking and it's proceeding on or ahead of schedule they have done any number of other things to undercut the United States and its allies in Asia. As Steve said, let's be clear, the North Korea nuclear weapons program would end tomorrow if China wanted it to. They for 25 years have been deceiving the United States, saying that they wanted to eliminate that program; they haven't done much of anything existential. It's one reason why the President needs not just the kind of missile defense system for the United States the Bush administration contemplated to deal with the rogue states like Iran and North Korea, we need the kind of missile defense system that Ronald Reagan proposed initially in the Strategic Defense Initiative... and we need it right now.

Author meeting with the distinguished Ambassador John Bolton

ANALYSIS: Ambassador Bolton does an outstanding job of breaking down just how much of a global and existential threat China is becoming to the U.S and how much of a crisis we could be in its aggressive actions are continually left unchecked. Bolton speaks on a number of threats to U.S authority in Asia that Chinese naval encroachment and superior strategy increasingly imposes, as the country's sphere of influence grows over Japan, South Korea, and even Middle Eastern countries. Ambassador Bolton urges a very important desire for those wisely analyzing the rate of Chinese nuclear expansion, to suggest to the Defense Department to adopt a modern version of Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (aka 'Star Wars' by SDI's detractors), capable of deterring any ballistic missiles from a range of strategic areas that China is mapping out. Overall, Ambassador Bolton provides some very wise warnings and calls for action against rising Chinses hegemony.

President Trump's Historic impact at CPAC and a year of unparalleled success in the White House

DONALD TRUMP: For more than four decades, this event has served as a forum for our nation's top leaders, activists, writers, and thinkers.

Year after year, leaders have stood on this stage to discuss what we can do together to protect our heritage, to promote our culture, and to defend our freedom. CPAC has always been about big ideas, and it has also been about putting those ideas into action – and CPAC really has put a lot of ideas into action. We'll talk about some of them this morning. For the last year with your help, we have put more great conservative ideas into use than perhaps ever before in American history.

However the Trump Nationalist coalition must be vigilant against complacency. People must fight against what Trump promised during the campaign – being "tired of winning." You just won, and now you're happy and you're complacent. Don't be complacent. Don't be complacent. If the Democrat Socialist Party wins Congress in 2018 they will repeal your tax cuts, they will put Socialist activist who don't obey the U.S. Constitution – These lawless phony judges will try to destroy all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Remember that.

And, by the way, we're having tremendous plans coming out now, health care plans, at a fraction of the cost that are much better than Obamacare. And except for one senator, who came into a room at 3:00 in the morning, and went like that [thumbs down], we would have had health care, too. We would have had health care too. Think of that. But I think we may be better off the way we're doing it. Piece by piece by piece, Obamacare is just being wiped out. The individual mandate essentially wipes it out. I think we may be better off. And people are getting great health care plans and we're not finished yet.

President Trump triumphs at CPAC

But we're doing what is good for our country for the long-term, viability and survival. Like for instance, $700 billion got approved for military. Our military was going to hell. We declined to certify the terrible one-sided Iran nuclear deal. It was a horrible deal. Whoever heard you give $150 billion to a nation that has no respect for you whatsoever? They're saying death to America. Well, they're signing the agreement. If somebody said death to America, while I'm signing an agreement, I say what's going on, folks? I'm not signing. They kept going. Kerry may be the worst negotiator I've ever seen. How about – how about this guy, how about Obama, of course, he's the one, but how about $1.8 billion in cash?

Nobody has ever seen anything like it. Under my administration, the era of economic surrender is over. We're renegotiating trade deals that are so bad, whether it is NAFTA, or whether it is world trade organizations, which created China, created – you look at China, it was going along like this, we opened stupidly this deal. And China has been like a rocket ship ever since. And now, last year, we had almost a $500 billion trade deficit with China. We can't have that. We can't have that. I have great respect for president XI, but we can't have that. We have to do what we have to do. We can't just let countries, an example, Mexico, we have $100 billion trade deficit with Mexico. What does that tell you? You know what it tells you? NAFTA is no good. It never was any good. But for some reason nobody ever changed it.

We're finally rebuilding our nation, we're rebuilding our nation. And we're restoring our confidence and our pride, all of us here today are united by the same timeless values. We defend our constitution and we believe in the wisdom of our founders, our constitution is great. We support the incredible men and women of law enforcement. True. We know that a strong nation must have strong borders. We celebrate our history and our heroes and we believe young Americans should be taught to love their country, and to respect its traditions.

CONCLUSION: President Trump echoed a powerful conservative message, voiced by many of the renowned speakers at CPAC, speaking on many of the triumphs gained in his 1st year in the White House. Whether it was producing the largest tax cut in History along with the removal of the individual mandate in Obamacare, or reinvesting money into rebuilding the U.S military while redirecting funds away from terrible agreements like the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump Administration delivered and maintained its core promises to the American people. Trump's speech helped vocalize how significant CPAC 2018 was, in the conference's 45th anniversary of mobilizing conservative action and inspiring the next generation of activists to preserve and protect American founding principles against the revisionism of anti-American Progressive politics. I was honored that this year was my first in attending CPAC and will forever cherish all the amazing nationalist and conservative voices that I've heard and the people that I met, aiding in the war to make America an exceptional nation once again in the era of Trump Nationalism or Trumphalism

© Stone Washington


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Stone Washington

Stone Washington is a PhD student in the Trachtenberg School at George Washington University. Stone is employed as a Research Fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, focusing on economic policy as part of the Center for Advancing Capitalism. Previously, he completed a traineeship with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also a Research Assistant at the Manhattan Institute, serving as an extension from his time in the Collegiate Associate Program. During this time, he worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Clemson's Department of Political Science and served as a WAC Practicum Fellow for the Pearce Center for Professional Communication. Stone is also a member of the Steamboat Institute's Emerging Leaders Council.

Stone possesses a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Clemson University, a Juris Master from Emory University School of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Clemson University. While studying at Emory Law, Stone was featured in an exclusive JM Student Spotlight, highlighting his most memorable law school experience. He has completed a journalism fellowship at The Daily Caller, is an alumnus of the Young Leader's Program at The Heritage Foundation, and served as a former student intern/Editor for Decipher Magazine. Some of Stone's articles can be found at, which often provide a critical analysis of prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Stone is a member of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network, and has written a number of policy-related op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The College Fix, Real Clear Policy, and City Journal. In addition, Stone is listed in the Marquis Who's Who in America and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. Friend him on his Facebook page, also his Twitter handle: @StoneZone47 and Instagram. Email him at


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