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This weekend, I attended a Defending the American Dream Summit in Dallas. An annual conference organized by Americans for Prosperity, the event brought together politicians, policy wonks and grassroots activists for two days of training, presentations and socializing (sans socialism).
Speakers included a lot of possible presidential candidates such as Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Mike Pence and Dr. Ben Carson. The power of free markets was extolled by Carly Fiorina, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Bill Whittle, and AEI’s Arthur Brooks (Dr. Brooks told me he’s a Ricochet fan, by the way).
While several bloggers and reporters have detailed specific speeches and breakout sessions, what stood out to me was the positive energy of the crowd. A month back, I attended the progressive Netroots Nation conference and the difference couldn’t be more striking.
Netroots attendees were highly Balkanized. A group of suspicious feminists on one side of the room warily looked at a group of African American activists on the other. In room 140E, the LGBT caucus argued why they should add “Q” to their acronym, while ignoring the Domestic Workers Union organizers in 140F. After sessions would break up, progressives would keep to their own discrete “community” for lunch, protest or after-hours entertainment.
Since I didn’t fit with any group, I was actively ignored for the most part. The only folks who so much as nodded in my direction were, for lack of a better term, pajama boys. These young, urban metrosexual males were typically deferential and apologetic to pretty much everyone, including outsiders like me. Their primary conversation topic was determining to which “group” I belonged; the more helpful told me to attend my state’s Netroots caucus room to get properly categorized.
At AFP’s summit, I was accepted as an individual, not as a cog in a greater collective. Whether I was attending a workshop, a general session speech, grabbing lunch, riding a shuttle bus or milling about the hotel lobby, everyone was welcoming and chatty. There were young and old, male and female, rich CEOs and broke bloggers alike. But we weren’t stratified by class or gender or political issue; we were 3,000 individuals united by (mostly) common goals. And where we disagreed, there was acceptance and even encouragement.
Netroots attendees were much more dour. Some of this is due to Obama’s obvious failures, both foreign and domestic. But even in good times, the liberal mind is tortured by their innate victimhood by shadowy oppressors. Can a female Asian minimum wage worker criticize the male privilege of a wealthy black panelist, or does the fact that he’s gay give him the moral advantage? (The only way to be the winner of a left-vs.-left argument is to prove you’re actually the loser.)
The Left can attempt to argue that they’re correct on the issues. But there’s no debate over which side is more fun to hang out with.Published in