There’s been a spate of criticism of last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (most of it deserved), but — in the interest of covering both sides of any issue — it’s important to point out some good things went down at CPAC 2018, too.
Which is why I’m going to re-up a piece I wrote for RedState on The Federalist’s Ben Domenech’s interview of Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday, the first day of the conference. It was a good, lighthearted exchange about heavy topics; and it was appropriately critical of those conservatives should be criticizing: progressives who want to fundamentally change the country toward larger government, away from an originalist reading of the founding documents and split into a dozen social justice factions competing with each other.
So here it is again. CPAC should focus more on this kind of content next year. They should make it a priority.
Ted Cruz Tells Millennials: ‘Spread the Fire of Liberty’
Ben Domenech, publisher of beltway news outlet The Federalist, conducted a one-on-one interview with Sen. Ted Cruz on Thursday from the CPAC main stage and the Texas Republican ended the conversation to loud applause as he passionately told young voters to “spread the fire of liberty!”
The Senator’s remarks, during which he extolled the virtue of choice for millennial and younger voters — for everything from medical choices to internet provision — lit the crowd on fire, with attendees standing and applauding as the Senator left the stage.
Domenech opened his chat with references to The Simpsons, apparently a favorite of Cruz’s.
“I know that you’re a big fan of The Simpsons,” Domenech said.
“We’re immediately starting with deep policy,” the Senator quipped.
Despite the relative humorous tone, Domenech was interested in getting at what Cruz thought of heavy subjects, such as the hits and misses of the first year of the Trump administration, the state of conservatism, and which direction the country is headed as regards the debate over the 2nd Amendment in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting.
Cruz noted that, on the issue of guns, he was convinced that the Democrats — which he called the “party of Lisa Simpson” — were mostly interested in confiscation of firearms.
“[Recall the] biggest cheer lines last night,” Cruz said, referring to the CNN townhall debate on gun control featuring students who survived the shooting and pro-gun rights legislators and media figures. “It was when they were talking about confiscating guns.”
Cruz noted that confiscation was “profoundly unconstitutional” and that it also doesn’t work. He reminded Domenech and CPAC attendees that he and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) had written legislation during the Obama administration that might have prevented both the school shooting in Florida and the Sutherland Springs church shooting last year in Texas.
The Senator further noted that the way to stop mass casualty shootings is to target criminals and felons, and acknowledged that the FBI and local law enforcement failed to act in the case of the Parkland shooting.
He noted that during the Obama administration, 48,000 felons and fugitives attempted to buy firearms illegally — which is how the Sutherland Springs shooter obtained his weapon — and that the Obama administration only prosecuted 44 of them.
He said the legislation he and Sen. Grassley proposed would have landed the Sutherland Springs shooter in prison before he could have carried out his crime.
The Senator finished by noting that the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate via tax reform, the appointment of 12 federal appeals court judges as well as Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and other accomplishments under the Trump administration, should be viewed as proof that conservatism is healthy.
“On substance, the record of delivering has been remarkable,” Cruz said.