Another year at CPAC has come and gone. Another chance to meet and greet, to hear pontifications, to be uplifted by rhetoric and share in good fellowship and bad, overpriced hotel food (and service!). Many things about CPAC were the same this year, and some were different. For instance, much less of the conference’s attendees were college students bussed in to stuff the straw poll ballot box. So far as I know, Ann Coulter didn’t intentionally steal the show with any outrageous remarks. And this time, there was actual internet access in the hotel.
But by far the most important difference was the atmosphere. Since the first CPAC I attended in 2007, this was the first time I really had the sense that the attendees smelled victory on the horizon. The difference in the level of excitement in the air accordingly was palpable. As the Congressional candidates for various races circulated through bloggers’ row to pass out materials and gladhand, there was a real feeling that we were meeting an incoming wave of freshmen Congressmen, with all the promise that entails.
The mood at the conference was one I’ve not felt among Republicans since 1994. Then, we were stinging from the election of the charlatan Bill Clinton, but we had successfully turned back Hillarycare, the country had soured on the Democrats in Congress, and previously safe career fatcats were suddenly and mysteriously deciding to spend more time with their family. Everywhere you went, the buzz was building among Republicans that the unthinkable might happen: GOP control of the House.
This year at CPAC had the same feeling. But among the people I met, the feeling was actually more intense. And I think the reason is simple: the internet, through facebook, twitter, and sites like RedState, has created a kind of feedback loop, especially for people who are otherwise disconnected physically from their fellow conservatives. For the first time, conservatives in Vermont and New York who live in “hopeless” districts can be informed and connected with more competitive races, and can be plugged in to easy tools to facilitate participation and donation in places where they feel that it will matter more. And conservatives in places like Georgia, Tennessee and Utah can be reminded of the plight of people like Scott Brown who are working tooth and nail to make sure there’s no such thing as a “hopeless” district or race.
As a movement, we are stronger for the new tools and the connections that the internet makes possible. But there is still no substitute for face-to-face meeting. It reminds us to be more civil to one another, to realize that people with whom we have strategic differenes are still people who operate in good faith, and it fosters a sense of team that is necessary for all monumental accomplishments. And friends, what we are attempting to do – take back Congress after two consecutive wallopings at the ballot box – would be a truly monumental accomplishment. And it is, unbelievably, within our grasp.
For those who were not able to physically come to CPAC, especially our regular RedState readers, we felt you there in spirit. And we will take the fight together to Obama and the Democrats every day from today until election day, and until the day when Congress and the White House are controlled not only by Republicans, but by conservatives.