The Best Events of 2005

Jennifer Biddison
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Posted: Dec 31, 2005 12:05 AM

As Coalitions Manager for Townhall.com, I have the perfect job for an extrovert like me: attending events and meeting new friends in the conservative movement. For over four years, I have tracked Townhall’s 115 partner organizations, keeping you informed about what they’re up to through our daily What’s New email and other features around the site.

This year in particular has been filled with some of the most amazing conservative events, and for those of you who weren’t able to attend with me, I thought it might be helpful for you to find out what you missed. 

Most Important: CPAC

The annual Conservative Political Action Conference, attended by thousands of conservative activists, consistently attracts the biggest names and the most attention. This year’s agenda featured debates, panels, book signings, and dinners featuring guests ranging from Ann Coulter to Sen. Rick Santorum. CPAC is for all conservatives, whether you’re actively involved in politics or just a casual reader of Townhall.com. If you haven’t been, you’re missing out. The 2006 CPAC will be held Feb. 9-11 in Washington, D.C.

Most Prestigious: Evening with Milton and Rose Friedman

The honored dinner guests on a June night in New York City were Milton and Rose Friedman, celebrating fifty years since Milton first conceived the idea behind the school choice movement. Milton, now 93 years young, received praise from conservative celebrities both on stage and in the audience. Joining me at my table were Andrew P. Napolitano of FOX News, coalition-building king Grover Norquist, polling guru Kellyanne Conway, JunkScience.com host Steven Milloy, and Milloy’s Free Enterprise Action Fund co-founder – and our table host – Tom Borelli. I felt very humbled to be in the presence of these conservative powerhouses.

Best Gifts and Prizes: Independent Women’s Forum Celebration Dinner

Every guest at the IWF dinner in May received a bag filled with Kate Spade notes, Bed Head hair products, a Stevie Wonder CD, and even alcohol and cigars. In addition, one person at every table won a Taser! This was actually one of my favorite events all year. I fell in love with IWF as an organization, I met some of the most passionate women in D.C., and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao received the Woman of Valor Award – all in one night. It was magical.

Most Inspiring Speaker: Freedom Alliance 15th Anniversary Gala and National Taxpayers Conference ’05 (tie)

Retired four-star General Tommy Franks, presented with the Freedom Alliance’s “Defender of Freedom” award earlier this month, gave a defense of the Iraq war that renewed my faith in our overseas efforts. He also reminded us of the gift that our leaders and military have given Afghanistan: “I am proud that in a period of 75 days, my country gave 26 million people a chance for something they had never known in perhaps 2,000 years.” In addition, after several humorous, self-deprecating stories, he pulled back for the punch, criticizing the Clinton Administration – which appointed him – for failing to respond to terrorist attacks that would later climax in 9/11.  Human Events editor Robert Bluey covered the event.

At the National Taxpayers Union conference, Steve Moore carefully laid out a justification for tax cuts that was simple enough for a non-economist like myself to understand – even though the audience consisted of hard-core taxpayer activists from around the country. Never before had I comprehended exactly how much tax increases for corporations hurt the economy – and I was in awe as Moore laid out complicated tax theories in laymen’s terms. Because of that speech, I am taking Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics on my vacation this week, and I am determined to be able to explain free-market economics to my bleeding-heart friends when I get back.

Best Location: ALEC’s 32nd Annual Meeting

The American Legislative Exchange Council held its annual meeting at the Gaylord Texan Hotel near Dallas, Texas. I had never been to Texas before, so I was impressed by the area in general, but the hotel itself was amazing. State legislators gathered to network – and to catch a surprise keynote by President Bush – in a facility where a model of the Alamo provides an eye-catching centerpiece.

Biggest Personal Thrill: NRCC Dinner

My husband and I got to meet President Bush.. ‘Nuff said.

Most Synergy: Resource Bank

Imagine several hundred of the top policy wonks gathering for two days in Miami, and you’ll understand why this annual Heritage Foundation conference is always energizing.

The Next Big Thing: CSR Reconsidered

It’s not just the courtroom where the Left is circumventing Congress. When liberals can’t get the votes they need in Congress, they are now turning to corporations to push through their agendas under the guise of “corporate social responsibility.” I believe one of the next big battlegrounds for conservatives is in shareholder meetings, and groups like Free Enterprise Action Fund and National Legal and Policy Center are leading the way.

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Of course, I’m unable to attend every event on the Townhall.com Calendar, so I’d love for our readers to post below to tell me about meaningful events they’ve attended this year.  I’m already salivating over a few events next year, including Freedom Alliance’s annual Hannity Freedom Concert at Six Flags, Grove City College’s Center for Vision and Values conference, and Media Research Center’s annual DisHonors Awards Gala.  I hope to see you in 2006!