(Live from CPAC 2013) Despite Obama's victory last November, the annual gathering of conservatives, known as "CPAC" is decidedly upbeat. Jim DeMint, leader of the Heritage Foundation, stated at a packed gathering in Maryland's National Harbor that the failure of the President's policies to produce an economic upturn at home or address challenges abroad would lead voters away from support for leftist candidates.
DeMint made it clear that this was a gathering of conservative thinkers, not Republican faithful. "The Republican Party hasn't followed a conservative platform since the [Gingrich-led] ...revolution of the 1990's…We can’t wait for Republicans to advance conservative causes" he stated.
Speaking to an enthusiastic audience with numerous young professionals as well as experienced veterans, DeMint noted that the last positive election result for Republicans, which occurred in 2010, was the result of conservative ideas. He stressed that states with more conservative policies were relatively prosperous, a sharp contrast to the far more leftist positions taken by Washington which have produced high unemployment in the U.S. and a rapidly deteriorating international situation.
DeMint pointed to glaring local and national examples of failed leftist policies. The former U.S. Senator described how once-prosperous Detroit had been reduced to bankruptcy as a result of liberal leadership. He pointed out that the city had "hundreds of liquor stores but not one chain supermarket." He also pointed to similar results in Greece.
A common theme throughout this year’s CPAC events has been that liberal policies have been tried with undeniably poor results.
He stressed that conservatives had to "appeal to all demographic groups," and how right-wing policies had widespread benefits to groups that traditionally didn't support conservative policies. He noted that issues such as school choice, a response to the devastatingly poor academic results of public education, should be emphasized.
Other issues discussed included workplace freedom, which opposes workers being forced to join unions against their will in order to work; (also a response to union corruption and unresponsiveness to member needs;) entitlement reforms; the looming problems brought about by Obamacare; and immigration reform.
DeMint reiterated Heritage’s anti-immigration amnesty position, noting that when immigration amnesty was provided in the 1980’s, there were three million illegals; currently, that number is eleven million.
Washington’s budget woes were a major topic of the former senator’s remarks. He stressed the conservative position that the only acceptable strategies included cutting spending, either immediately or over a period ten years, and a rejection of any tax increases. He believes one way to accomplish this is by moving various programs from Washington to state capitals.
With the recent North Korean, Chinese, Russian and Iranian threats in mind, DeMint chided the White House’s policy of “confusion and gutting defense.” He called for a return to a position of U.S. strength and focused policies.
The gathering had the air of a presidential convention, with several potential Republican candidates in attendance.