2013’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) claimed to be focused on the next generation, but the speaker lineup said otherwise.
I had an absolute blast networking at CPAC 2013. I met awesome young conservatives who were fired up and ready to fight in the name of freedom. We talked, exchanged information, shared new ideas, and debated the differences of opinion within the tent of conservatism. It was constructive, productive, and exactly what needed to be said after November’s big loss. Unfortunately though, barely anyone heard these new ideas, because young conservatives were not given the podium to let their voices be heard.
CPAC’s focus this year was, “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives.” I was initially thrilled when I heard this news. I couldn’t wait to get to the conference and hear some of my favorite young conservatives, along with major conservative icons, talk about solutions for the problems that face this country. But when the final CPAC schedule was released, I was sorely disappointed. Instead of focusing on the next generation’s prominent leaders, CPAC invited the same speakers we’ve all heard too many times. There was no new blood.
Popular and talented young conservatives like Katie Pavlich, Steven Crowder, Charlie Kirk, Francesca Chambers, Bethany Bowra, Katie Thompson, Brittney Morret, and Amy Lutz were used only as emcees for the event. They introduced speakers who should have been introducing them. They are bold leaders in the conservative movement, and it was shameful that CPAC did not give them prime speaking slots. And other movers and shakers of the future, like Brandon Morse of Misfit Politics, weren’t even invited to participate. Instead, CPAC invited stale Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich. Bethany Bowra, creator of Next Generation Voters, weighed in, saying, “While a lot was said at CPAC about the youth, very seldom were we actually given the opportunity to represent ourselves on the stage… Engage the young people and your principles will be carried on for generations to come.” Benji Backer, a 15 year old conservative, also said, “Young conservatives are going to be the leaders of the movement someday. It is time to recognize the young conservatives of America.”