It’s been three years since I last attended the Conservative Political Action Conference–also known as CPAC. The convention takes place outside of Washington DC, a city I happen to have a love-hate relationship with for reasons most of you have seen me express on my twitter, since I do reside around the metropolitan area. Looking back, CPAC 2013 was definitely the start of something that did lead me to become a part of something huge: LibertyHangout.org. CPAC was in fact the place that I got exposed to libertarianism, as well as parts of American History that weren’t taught in grade school, and how politics really work. It was a good experience–even though I was just coming of age and my social skills weren’t on par at the time–but it wasn’t like this year’s CPAC. From my perspective, this year’s CPAC was superior to the one that I attended when I was 19.
A lot has changed in the last 3 years, in a direction that I think shouldn’t even be considered left or right. Most Americans are fed up; even though on social media, you’ll see those propaganda about the left’s “successes” and then next minute, you look outside and wonder if that’s actually true? If that’s the case, the results of the latest midterms, shocking debts, constant wars, social unrest, and a dismantling economy seem to say otherwise.
I joined Liberty Hangout because I knew that there’s something special about the website itself. I figure that it would be a perfect way for me to get my voice out while I polish other people’s writings on this website, all while entertaining people on Twitter and spreading the message of liberty in many other ways. I consider it to be a healthy competition, because I know there are many websites and organizations out there who do take a stand against a tyrannical government, whether it would be through sassy pink elephants, clever stickers for laptops, or even unapologetic but authentic podcasts filled with vape smoke and messages of liberty. That’s capitalism; you may pick and choose which organization best suits you; you can even join as many as you want. That’s something government dreams of providing but they just can’t.
As for CPAC 2016, that conference definitely blew my experience at CPAC 2013 out of the water. Yes, there was a nefarious situation that happened to me before I even entered the conference, but I didn’t let it ruin my overall experience. Instead, it did teach me that dissent is powerful; that’s what made the United States. I saw an opportunity: that incident does show people, especially those who didn’t attend CPAC, how fiendish Washington politics is if you express liberty one way or another. If promoting liberty is criminal, then so be it; I’ll continue. There’s a difference between dissent and violence, and at Liberty Hangout, we don’t encourage the latter because we hold everybody’s lives at high regard. After all, Voltaire once said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.
Aside from that incident, I did have the time of my life. As a libertarian anarcho-capitalist, I didn’t find any reason to feel strange at an event whose values are polar opposite to the ideology I hold onto. At this point, I’m always content to go against the tide. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to present it properly to those who might have never heard it before.
I was able to get into many impromptu discussions with people I either didn’t know at all or knew through Twitter before I arrived at the convention. It’s an esoteric feeling if you’re involved with politics, whether it’s casually online or it’s your vocation. Everything about that convention was excellent, from the speeches I heard, to the booths and presentations I got to look at, etc.
The part I liked best were the engaging discussions, because personally, it’s been a while since I discussed politics out in the open. It’s as if this part of the convention pretty much defied this one manner a friend of mine taught me years ago: “It’s impolite to talk about politics in public”. Well, it’s a political convention that does take place in a public setting. It’s nice because for once, I didn’t have to rely on other people for backup or sassy pictures. Instead, it was straight-forward and there are times that I just didn’t genuinely know what to fire back with and it’s okay; that’s an opportunity to learn more back home while you do cherish the comradeship that’s created after those kind of debates.
Comradeship, friendship: those are words that also defined my CPAC experience. For the first time in my life, I’m proud to be a part of something that’s worth fighting for while I finally found people who love me, even though their political beliefs aren’t exactly like mine. I’ve struggled to look for a group of people that I can hold on to–in fact, I’ve always had trouble keeping friends, but I don’t think it’ll happen this time. They’re lovely, friendly, and caring people passionate about liberty while they strive to be successful. They are also the most hilarious people you’ll ever meet, and most of all, they’re superior to home-cooking, bar none. You know who you are when you’re reading this: I’m thrilled that you’re an important part of my life.
I’m thrilled that I grew up and mellowed, compared to last year when I did harass people in the name of liberty without realizing that I was once a Republican too. I apologize to those who I used to annoy and troll. Trust me: sure, there are libertarians who do act like that, but that’s not what the philosophy itself espouses. The great thinkers of that ideology were the polar opposite, especially some contemporary ones right now as well. They’re all modest people who share the same goal as this website does. It’s safe to say that this CPAC convention did give me a boost in maturity, both politically and personally.
At this point, it’s best to have a change of heart and continue to spread the message of liberty around positively, while you do remind people of the evils of the federal government. It’s almost like it’s a gigantic force you just can’t stop if you look at what’s at stake. But that shouldn’t stop you from realizing that while politics age, principles won’t.