Photo: Gage Skidmore
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland, March 7, 2014 — Texas Senator Ted Cruz opened the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday morning with a challenge.
In his opening speech at CPAC 2014, Cruz said that conservatives must stand on principle. He placed himself clearly in the camp of those who believe that conservatives will only win when they stand for something, rather than just against liberalism. Conservatives need an alternate vision.
Cruz described ten points of principle that conservatives should stand on:
- Stand for the Bill of Rights. The Obama Administration is violating every amendment.
- Abolish the IRS. Cruz supports a flat tax.
- Expand energy production and create jobs all over America. The administration’s call for a $10 minimum wage is nonsense. The minimum wage in North Dakota is $45 an hour.
- Expand school choice; every child deserves a good education.
- Repeal Dodd-Frank.
- Audit the Fed, which is debasing the currency.
- Pass a strong Balanced Budget Amendment.
- “Repeal every single word of Obamacare.”
- Stop the lawlessness: By choosing which parts of laws — Obamacare, immigration, DOMA — to enforce and when, the president behaves lawlessly.
- End the corruption. Eliminate corporate welfare and crony capitalism. There should be a lifetime ban on lobbying for those who serve in Washington. Enact term limits.
Cruz observed that you win elections by inspiring people and assuring them that there is a brighter tomorrow. He clearly believes it, and he evoked Reagan when he said that it can be “morning in America” again.
Senator Pat Toomey followed Cruz with a condemnation of lawlessness and corruption in government, and a call for government accountability.
“When we stand up and fight on principle, we can win.” — Senator Pat Toomey
To illustrate his point he spoke about the fight to prevent Debo Adegbile from becoming the head of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. United Senate Republicans were joined by seven Democrats who voted against the appointment. The vote was so close, he noted, that Democrats brought Joe Biden in to act in his role of potential tie-breaker as president of the Senate.
“We need to stand up to a president who thinks the laws don’t apply to him.”
Paul Ryan followed in a similar vein. He said the left is governing in a way designed to make a point: They’re in charge, deal with it. In Colorado, where Democrats recovered control over the state House in 2012, we see exactly the same attitude.
According to Ryan, the Democrats are not acting like a majority party. A majority party in America allows debate and minority participation in the process. Tyranny of the majority was something the Founders warned us about and which they attempted to guard against in writing the Constitution.
The liberal press tells a narrative of infighting among conservatives; Ryan sees a vigorous debate about the best way to enact policies. He said that our disagreements are not over principles or even policies, but only tactics.
Politicians owe the people a vision. The thing that separates politicians in Washington is whether they’re out to start a career or to serve a cause. Ryan favors serving a cause.
“Right now the tax code is 10 times the size of the Bible — and with no good news.” — Rep. Paul Ryan
A conservative agenda is taking shape; we are not just opposing the president, we are forming an agenda, he said.
Ryan gave examples of good policy being pursued by Republicans: You should pick your health care plan and not Washington; the House has passed his budget three years in a row, following the Tea Party revolution.
Ryan concluded by contrasting the two parties: The Democrats are the party of personalities; Republicans are the party of ideas. The left offers a full stomach and an empty soul; the American people want more.
The first three speeches of CPAC were all full of optimism. They began to set a conservative agenda and they talked of unifying behind it.