The Civitas 2015 Conservative Leadership Conference (CLC) this past weekend kicked off on Friday with thought-provoking insights from a range of speakers, including two potential presidential candidates, Dr. Ben Carson and former Sen. Rick Santorum.
In the keynote address Friday night, Dr. Carson said the real goal of political correctness is to “make the majority feel that what they believe is obsolete, ‘nobody thinks that way who is intelligent’ and the way [leftists] believe is the only reasonable thing to do, and if you can get the microphone and you can spread that message you can intimidate the majority into silence. This is exactly what has happened in America.”
Dr. Carson also shared a crucial lesson from rise from boyhood poverty to becoming one of the leading neurosurgeons in the world: Americans can achieve their goals without government help. His mother worked multiple jobs to keep their family off welfare.
“She really had an intense desire not to be on welfare because she, with her third-grade education, noticed that no one she saw go on welfare ever came off of it,” he said.
“I don’t want to get rid of safety nets for people,” he added. “What I want to do is get rid of dependency in our society,” he said.
Dr. Carson’s speech was preceded by a surprise appearance by Gov. Pat McCrory. He said that he especially appreciated the leadership of President Eisenhower. “One of the great things he did was invest in infrastructure that benefits us today,” the governor said. “In North Carolina, we’re going to do the same thing.”
CLC2015 was the biggest in the event’s ten-year history, with more than 600 people attending. Keynote speeches, exhibitors and stimulating breakout sessions provided the statewide audience of engaged activists, policy types and politicos two full days of activity and education.
Santorum: Reach out to struggling Americans
Speaking Friday morning, Santorum said that conservatives need to update their message to reach the vast majority of Americans who are struggling.
As Civitas polls have confirmed, most Americans think we are still in a recession. Conservatives need to speak to and for those people, Santorum said. “A rising tide does lift all boats – unless your boat has a hole in it.”
“America has changed,” and that includes business elites abandoning the Republican Party, while rural and blue-collar voters are more attracted to conservative values. Yet too often, blue-collar people “want to vote for us but they don’t think we give a darn about them, because we never talk about them,” he said. “We need to be a party for the 70 percent who don’t have college degrees.”
That also means defending traditional values. He noted social scientists have confirmed what conservatives have long believed: stable, two-parent families are keys to success and well-being.
Yet political correctness has intimidated conservatives, despite the damage being done to the social fabric. “We dare not talk about, we dare not try to push our morality about giving kids a chance to have a mom and a dad, [which] is every child’s birthright,” Santorum said.
‘FrackNation’ filmmaker shoots down myths
Filmmaker Ann McElhinney punctured a slew of fracking myths with a showing of her documentary “FrackNation” and with an address at a general session.
Take, for example, the myth that fracking contaminates water, even making it burst into flames. “Water has always been flammable,” she said, referring to water in certain regions where pockets of natural gas can bubble to the surface and ignite. Robert de La Salle found that when he explored New York and discovered flaming water in Burning Springs … in 1669, centuries before anyone explored for gas there.
If your water bursts into flames, she said, “Lucky you! That means there’s hydrocarbons near you.” With a little luck, one of those evil energy companies will pay you for the privilege of removing those hydrocarbons from your land.
McElhinney delivered some of the most powerful moments of CLC when she described her next project: a film about deadly abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell.
She talked about how making the movie opened her eyes to the tragedy of abortion, and to the government officials who ignored the horrors at Gosnelll’s clinic for decades. “The real evil is bureaucrats,” she said.
For more on the movie, which is expected in 2016, go on the Internet to gosnellmovie.com.
Good news for conservatives
Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint said Americans will back conservative stands, if our citizens know and understand what’s going on in Washington. “We are a growing movement and we do have a majority in America — if we learn how to talk to people.”
And things are changing. He saw during his time as a U.S. Senator how the Internet and the growth of grassroots organizations have enabled conservatives to bring more pressure on Washington, as in the defeat of the 2007 immigration reform measure and in the ban of earmarks.
That’s why it’s up to citizens to be involved. “The power to change this country and the responsibility to save this county is in the hands of people,” he said. “It’s your country, it’s your job.”
“Conservatism is really cool!” Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told CLC attendees. “It is a great day to be a conservative. People are eager for the truth, eager for bold messages.”
Yet centralizing power in the federal government remains a danger, he said. “If you’re a bank robber today, you don’t have to rob a bank, you just have to go to Washington, D.C.”
Big Government “just doesn’t work for the average American,” he said. “We need to get back to the basics. We must stop trying to solve problems from the top down.”
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson noted that a number of state attorneys general have challenged the Affordable Care Act because it says that subsidies cannot be given to people who sign up through a federal health insurance exchange.
Liberals have complained that this would deny funding to some people, Wilson said, but, “They shouldn’t be receiving illegal subsidies – it’s illegal!”
If the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down that portion of the law, handing a victory to conservatives, “We have got to come up with free-market, state-based solutions.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows told attendees, “What we really need [in Congress] are people willing to listen to the people who sent them to Washington, D.C.” But of course, that means concerned citizens have to contact their representatives, with at least one phone call or email a month as the minimum. “If you don’t make at least one email or call a month, I don’t want to hear from you,” explaining that people can’t complain unless they are reaching out to their representatives.
He recalled the attack on Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, which inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The fort only survived the bombardment because 22 Americans were willing to sink their own boats in the harbor, keeping the British ships out of range. That sacrifice holds a lesson for us all today, Meadows said: “if you are one of the patriots willing to sink your boat, you can make a difference.”
Finally, Donald Bryson of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity urged attendees to help to keep North Carolina “first in freedom.”
The state has passed some much-needed reforms, but he quoted John Adams in urging conservatives to stick to their guns: “’The middle way is no way at all,’” Bryson said. “We need to pass good conservative policies.”
In addition to the main speaker sessions, there were 21 breakout sessions over 2 days covering topics from Obamacare and Medicaid to the left’s Culture War on Marriage with the Benham Brothers and Mapping the Left. There were also skills clinics for social media and “Raising Patriots.” You could also have had a front row seat on the “War on Women” and heard from Catherine Engelbrecht of True the Vote.
Tomorrow: Saturday at CLC