After departing from 2018 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) in National Harbor, MD, my initial reaction was as follows: All Hail God Emperor Trump. Of course, such a silly sentiment waned once I was outside the singular echo chamber of the Gaylord Convention Center, but its influence had certainly made its mark.
Say what you will about his past and his policies, but President Trump can entertain a crowd. Of course, his presence and speech were the highlights of the conference. Though many Republicans (such as myself) are not Trump’s biggest fans, the ability to see a President from relatively nearby, as well as experience one of his speeches, was extraordinary. Much of the population likes to promulgate the notion that Trump is unhinged; however, it was very evident from his speech that his gestures, diction and facial expressions were purposeful. He read the crowd easily and often adjusted his words and actions accordingly. Seeing President Trump at CPAC helped me remember that underneath all the headlines, controversies and spray tan, he is still a person, and one with an amusing sense of humor to boot.
Though President Trump’s appearance was certainly the apex, there were several other wonderful speakers present at CPAC. I was able to hear from Senator Ted Cruz, my personal favorite politician. As a Cruz fan, I will readily admit that the flatness and plainly unattractive qualities of his face are painfully obvious even from several hundred feet away. That being said, he delivered a rousing interview, one which showcased his oft-ignored wit.
CPAC also included a ferocious speech from Ben Shapiro, my favorite political pundit. His strength of conviction, which was evident in both the ferocity of his gaze as well as the power of his words, inspired me from the moment his speech commenced. In addition, his stellar sense of humor (which manifested in some biting remarks about failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton) was on full display. I strongly encourage anyone interested to check out his podcast or editorials; though you may not agree with him, his intelligence, logic and wit are easily respected.
For the sake of brevity, I will not detail every speaker present at CPAC, though others of note include Laura Ingraham, Nigel Farage, and Mike Pence. Despite the impressive catalogue of commentators, CPAC is comprised of more than a succession of speeches. It serves as a hub of young Republicans, and functions as a great networking opportunity; both the abilities to make new friends and business contacts abound. National Harbor is also a unique area, replete with great (though overpriced) restaurants, remarkable works of art, and a beautiful view of the water. In addition, experiencing CPAC with fellow members from Gettysburg’s chapter of College Republicans ensured that I was surrounded by good friends, rendering the trip all the more enjoyable. Without a doubt, CPAC 2018 will be a highlight of my spring semester.