The 2009 RedState Gathering: My Experience

Well, like so many others here, I had the fortune of going to the RedState Gathering in Atlanta this weekend. Since I live in Douglasville during the summer, it was but a short trip intown for me, so I drove to both days of the conference.

I was very lucky to get there, as I, like many college students, have very little money. I was only able to attend after managing to convince my Mom that she, too, would enjoy this (I did need a ride after all), so a special thanks goes out to her for putting up with me and sacrificing her weekend (her last before the teachers in Cobb County have to report back to work) for the conference.

I enjoyed getting the chance to hear so many great conservatives speak. Michael Williams, Roy Blunt, Pat Toomey, and Marco Rubio will make excellent senators who will be great representatives of their people and advocates of the conservative cause, and Nikki Haley and Karen Handel will make great governors of their states. As a Georgian, I am looking forward to the prospect of having Karen Handel as my next governor.

However, the national scene and the governors’ races weren’t the only thing the conference focused on. As any of our contributors will tell you (especially someone like Erick), the local political scenes in our respective states, counties, and cities are just as important, if not more so, as the national scene (“All politics is local,” after all). Our contributors made the excellent point that our state level races are very influential in determining our political future. What they said about the importance of a state’s Secretary of State position particularly stuck with me, since they are in charge of managing a state’s elections. The Liberals have realized this and started something called the “Secretary of State Project,” which is devoted to electing Progressive secretaries of state across the country. One of the results of this project was one Mark Ritchie, the secretary of state of Minnesota who was in part responsible for stealing Norm Coleman’s seat out from under us.

But they didn’t just hit on the state level offices. They also pointed out that it is important that we get involved on the local level. Moe urged us to attend the meetings of our local Republican parties. We need to pay attention to what is said and done there, and we need to insure that our Republican leaders, at all levels, represent conservative ideals. If we are going to take this party back, we need to get active on ALL levels, not just the Governor’s seats, the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.

In fact, the most inspiring speech for me personally was the one given by Ted Cruz. It was fascinating to hear how he ended up where he is. His father was a Cuban immigrant who was active with the pro-Castro forces in the Cuban Revolution who escaped to the US after it was clear he couldn’t stay in Cuba any longer. He showed up in Austin, TX, with the clothes on his back, $100, and nothing else to attend the University of Texas. Ted Cruz is clearly a product of, and is living, the American Dream, but he made the point that, however, extraordinary his father’s story, this sort of thing is still quite common in America. He pointed out just how great this country has become, despite being formed mainly of the cast-offs of other countries. He also made a point of telling us how he fought for conservative causes and Texas’s interests as the solicitor general of his state. He will be a fine attorney general for his state.

NOTE: Ted Cruz wasn’t the only Attorney General candidate speaking at the gathering, but I hhad the misfortune of missing the candidate for Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s speech. However, I trust that, if RedState had the wisdom to endorse him, he will make a fine attorney general for his state.

I came to the gathering not just to hear all of the great speeches and presentations but to also get to know my fellow RedStaters and put some faces with the names. I had the fortune of meeting (sorry if I miss you) the likes of Erick, Moe, Caleb, Skanderbeg, Neil, EPU, Dave_in_Fla, Aaron Gardner, The_Gadfly, Socrates, Susannah, and so many others. I had many long discussions with some of them, especially Caleb, Skanderbeg, Dave, and Neil. It’s nice to know that the many great people who visit and contribute to this site are just as great and accessible in person.

Here are some of the pictures I took from the gathering. You can visit my Flickr account to see them as well.

Here’s Roy Blunt during his conference call:

Here’s Erick speaking before our screening of Media Malpractice. Note how the fact that he uses a Mac does not dim his awesomeness (which is no small feat):

Here’s Liz Cheney giving her speech:

Here I am with both my Mom and Liz Cheney:

Here’s Michael Williams giving his speech:

Here I am with Michael Williams (which, regrettably, I forgot to activate the flash for):

Here I am with Nikki Haley:

Here I am with the esteemed Erick Erickson (who, along with Caleb, did a superb job getting the conference together):

I’m already looking forward to next year’s gathering. In the meantime, I will do what I can to contribute to the conservative cause. As a college student, my studies come first, so I am not sure if I will have the time to get as active as I would like on the local level, though I will give what time I have. I will also do my best to continue contributing to RedState, which, I believe is the easiest way for me right now to contribute to the conservative cause.

Thanks for the good times and the memories, all!

–Jake Walker