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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Indy Republican’s View of Principles First 2023 Summit

Having attended last year’s Principles First Summit in Washington DC, naturally our humble correspondent was, of course curious to see just how the mood of the conference would be versus last year.

Also, we were curious to see how attendance would be at this year‘s summit, as opposed to how it was last year this time . We arrived at the Conrad, DC. In enough time to get registered for the summit and to take our place in the ballroom to begin the summit. 

Heath Mayo the founder of Principles first started off the summit by giving a little talk titled “Putting Principles First”, his speech was very well done, and basically covered what he felt are Principles First’s main goals. Heath said the main goal of the summit was to help grow the principled movement, and as Heath pointed out, we are principaled conservatives, and basically our goal is to work to improve our existing institutions, and that we favor empowerment over victimhood and also to point out how the America first movement is fundamentally anti-American, because it does not support the traditional view held by conservatives of America whatsoever. Mister Mayo also criticized the idea held by many at CPAC that unless we elect their particular brand of politicians, then basically the country is finished. This is similar to what Barry Goldwater Road in his final book Goldwater written in 1988, where Goldwater pointed out that “the sky will not fall in a member of Congress or the country, if they are not reelected.”

Next up was a discussion over the subject of why American institutions matter. Bill Kristol started off by discussing his recent trip to Europe, specifically to Prague in the Czech Republic, and had pointed out how they elected a new pro American president, and how, unlike at other times in the past visited me to Europe he was encouraged by many trends he saw there which he viewed to be Pro democracy in nature Kristol also talked about the importance of reforming our institutions, and how institutions can help to mold character he also pointed out how the late great William F Buckley believed in guard rails and how he, Barry Goldwater and President Reagan tossed the John Birch Society to the curb back in the late 1960s early 1970s, which is of course an interesting contrast to President Trump and MAGA World that have embraced and empowered such silliness.

Mona Charen was the next one up to speak. She discussed the nature in which Americas institutions were under attack and does point out correctly that institutions sometimes behave badly and still do but she did discuss the positive aspects of institution such as they can be character building and also they force people to work well together or face consequences when behaving badly. She pointed out how there needs to be accountability in order to make American institutions work better, the most key example that she gave was how the US Congress needs more accountability in order for it to start behaving better and for the members of it to live up to their oaths of office, she did point out though that just nonstop reflective attacks on institutions are what she called “social poison“ she also pointed out how institutions can decline and revive. As an example of she pointed out how the military in the United States had been in a state of decline in the 1970s, but how it started to revive quite a bit in the 1980s and 1990s she also points out how although some institutions such as the Heritage Foundation, Fox News, Claremont Institute, CPAC,etc. had caved into Trumpism. She pointed out that there were many that have refused to do so such as the American Enterprise Institute. She also pointed out how Alexis de Tocqueville said the great thing about America is Americans can create new institutions, overall, Miss Charen seemed to be fairly optimistic about our ability to reform our existing institutions, and also to create new ones, whenwarranted such as an The Bulwark, The Dispatch, and Principles First joining together to promote their ideas, and to push back against extremism on the left and right.

James Waller, who was the last to speak on the subject of American institutions in their value, had stated that institutions are “the secret sauce of American exceptionalism“.

The next topic up for discussion was Americans, foreign policy institutions and Putin‘s war in Ukraine. Tom Nichols, started off by pointing out how now Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida had flip-flopped on Ukraine, and when he was in Congress was a start supporter of supporting America’s allies abroad. Where is now he seems to have flipped on that.

Lieutenant General Mark Hertling pointed out why Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has gone so badly. He pointed out that Putin didn’t take into account sufficiently before launching his invasion. These included not considering just the size of Ukraine’s landmass the fact that it had nine major cities, and that Putin failed to do a troop to task analysis. 

A lot of issues that have been faced he said that have caused the Russians so much trouble fighting the Ukrainian’s, included the Russian army having a weak command structure, badly trained soldiers, and as he pointed out in warfare power equals resources times will. In warfare it’s not just a question of what resources you have, but how are they used. If they are not used effectively then it is ultimately counterproductive. 

The generals commentary on how resources have to be used effectively, and it is not just a question of do you have more and better resources than your opponent could also be applied to many other areas, especially the political sphere one area, which we will has promoted us here at this blog, to do a deep dive into is just how we as principled conservatives can use our resources, most effectively in order to push back against extremism.

The last member of the panel ambassador, Roger Noriega, pointed out that we as ordinary citizens can help support, the Ukrainian war many of whom are temporary in the United States directly, and also to make sure to contact our lawmakers, and to help them to understand that there is widespread support for continuing to help Ukraine. 

Stephen Richer the Recorder of Maricopa County in Arizona discussed how American elections help to uphold our democratic republic. Richer, who is the recorder of Maricopa county in Arizona and has received a lot of pushback for refusing to bend to President Trump and his allies during the 2020 presidential election. He also pointed out ideas on voter persuasion which consist of understanding what voters want, listening and engaging with them.

Governor Wes Moore of Maryland pointed out that the best way that office seekers can help to uphold democracy is that when they run for office is don’t just try to turn out their base only, but to campaign everywhere where they are running. The governor  pointed out during his campaign for governor in Maryland last year, he campaigned in his opponents hometown, while his opponent was away at Mar-a-Lago doing a fundraiser. And it did pay to campaign everywhere because even in areas where they weren’t many people who would support him they would take notice of his presence and several told him he was the first person running for governor to visit their town in 20 years. As to how to push back against election denialism, talk about how election deniers are not strong, powerful people. They are very weak because they have this entitlement mentality that they can only lose if they are cheated out out of a victory which is utterly at variance with our beliefs in free market competition, American exceptionalism, and letting the voters decide who wins.

Next up was Adrian Fontes the secretary of state of Arizona. Fontes said that you win elections by welcoming other voters in, you also have to make the people care about you as a person. If they care about you and what you stand for enough, they will ignore your party label. You have to reach out to people who disagree with you, being a person matters being assertive and aggressive when necessary to defending your values is important, but make sure to reach out to the voters and help to assuage their concerns. They may not agree with you, but if you present yourself well, and you engage with them directly, their concerns about you will be put will be put more at ease. And if they’re fairly comfortable with your person whether you defeat there candidate or not, it makes them less likely to believe that you’re trying to cheat them. 

After taking about an hour and a half or so for lunch, we then reconvened and our next discussion basically was about how to keep the peace after the incident of January 6, 2021 the riot on the capital. To assist in dealing with this question Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Trump official and now a host on ABC’s The View interviewed Officers Michael Fanone and Harry Dunn, who are both police officers in Washington DC. The officers stated out that to break through the echo chamber of false information. Accountability is the way to do it. One of the reasons why there wasn’t really much of any in the way of violence after last years midterm was because so many of the January 6 rioters are serving time in prison in some cases several decades that definitely has had a deterrent effect against election violence. 

Next up was a live taping of The Bulwark Podcast, which was aired Monday March 6, 2023. The podcast was Charlie Sykes interviewing former US Ambassador to the UN, and former national security advisor John Bolton. Sykes asked good and hard questions of the ambassador and to Bolton‘s credit. He answered things directly, sometimes not to the satisfactory of many of the audience, but he was willing to engage in a venue in which people would not agree with him across the board and we give him great credit for that. After the taping of the episode, we went back to get an autograph from the ambassador, and exchange a few pleasantries with him.

David Frum a good speech, writer, and political scientist, a veteran of both Bush administration’s, and a conservative critic of the presidency of Donald Trump, gave a brief but good speech, where he talked about how what we are doing with principles first is helping to make an impact. This year’s summit was larger than the last. Frum recounted about how William F Buckley in the early 70s moved to revive Conservatism and how in his opinion, he feels working within the two party system is the only way forward. Frum struck to us a more optimistic tone about the possibilities of working within the two party system to defend American traditions, as opposed to last years summit.

The discussion held after Frum’s speech. Was a panel about looking ahead to 2024, what their hopes were and what they were nervous about. Amanda Carpenter said what her hope was is that she hoped that Trump and Ron DeSantis would just destroy each other in the primaries, and that a somewhat sensible Republican candidate would get the presidential nomination. Sarah Longwell wants an alternative Republican candidate for president and also for Trump to lose badly she is of the opinion the only way that we are going to revive a healthy two party system is for the extremist sides of both political parties to suffer so many electoral defeats that they are largely powerless to affect anything on any significant level. We are in agreement with Longwell, and we continue to push back hard against extremism in both parties.

Nicholas Grossman said one thing he was grateful for is, is that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, also of Georgia, managed to not only win their primaries with a fair amount of ease, but also went on to easily get reelected, and also the fact that many election deniers lost is very encouraging. Mr. Grossman pointed out though that as did the rest of the panel that it is not just enough for Democrats, especially to oppose the craziness on the Republican side they also have to give people a positive vision going forward not just a reason to vote against Republican extremism, but also a positive case for themselves And also what is needed on the Republican side, is we need more people of goodwill, who are willing to engage in the political process and not be afraid to lose at times. This gave us a flashback to last year‘s conference when Miles Taylor had said what we can do if we want more principled people in politics, is follow the law of supply and demand, if we can increase the supply enough of principled people in politics, we can lower the cost to them of entering, basically following the principle that if you increase the  supply of something, the cost will go down.

Overall we were pleased with this years summit. We are noticeably more optimistic about the future than last year. We hope next year to have more discussions of policy issues and how to organize to reform both parties, and to keep building a more cross partisan coalition of principled conservatives. We were sorely tempted to send some veggie trays to Trump PAC CPAC labeled “Crudite”, but decided against it. Maybe we can troll them more next year!

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