Being there for me was inspirational - from Feb. 18-20, I attended my first Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. I found the conference to be extremely exciting and I got to listen to some of the most influential people in the United States.
The topic of the convention was "saving freedom." Without freedom, where would we be? I would not have an opportunity to hear great people speak or to write this column. Freedom touches every part of our daily lives, including immigration reform, health care, legislation, defense, college courses, what children learn in grade school, business, elections and safety. Without freedom, we would be left without hope and spirit.
During the conference, Judge Andrew Napolitano asked, "Would you rather make personal lifestyle decisions yourself, or have the government make them for you?" I would rather make my own decisions and not let the government make them for me. The judge urged those at the conference to "defend our freedom with every ounce of energy in (our) heart," and to fight for our freedom by taking control of Congress, by understanding issues and by educating ourselves on policies.
Lisa Nancollas stands with actor Robert Davi during the Conservative Political Action Conference held Feb. 18-20 in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Steve Bolch and Alan Charles Kors discussed the lack of freedom for college and high school students to discuss conservative policies on college campuses or in high schools. Both men said freedom comes when you can have an exchange of political ideas without the fear of retribution. They believe in bringing debates to schools and getting younger people involved.
I asked three college students from New York who were attending the conference - Matt Varvaro, Sean Farinallio and Daniel Ehrich - their views on college political debates. They said the best way to get young people involved is to allow debate and discussion on political issues in college.
Also during the conference, Mario Rubio, who was loved by his Florida Patriots, attending the conference, said he believes we need to look for leaders who understand and will stand up for liberty. He believes that freedom lies with the tea parties. He discussed the recent victory of Sen. Scott Brown in the Massachusetts election, and maintained that the tea parties are the single greatest political push back in history. He feels that the mainstream media is out of touch with the country.
Rubio also said that a long list of political backers would not guarantee you to win a primary election. I personally believe he is right, and that no one is safe in the primary elections. There are a lot of 9-12 candidates out there with many innovative ideas.
Edward Lynch from the Latin American Club and Robert Rector from The Heritage Foundation discussed immigration reform. They told us that people will be walking across our borders with dirty bombs strapped to them. Yes, that is very scary. I would like to tell President Obama to wake up, but I don't think he is going to listen to me regarding this issue.
Both Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck spoke on Saturday, Feb. 20. When Coulter was asked by an audience member who she would like to see for president, she responded with "you cannot tell the liberals until a month before," which got the crowd laughing. Coulter also said you cannot rely on the mainstream media for news and at that point thousands of people turned around and looked at C-SPAN and the other camera crews. The problem was I was standing on the stage next to C-SPAN. I became one of "those no good liberal media people." Have you ever had thousands of eyes staring at you at one time? It was one of the most unnerving experiences in my life. I looked to the television crews and they did not seem to be bothered by the comment; they kept their cameras on the crowd. Later that night I asked the C-SPAN crew what they thought of Coulter's statement, but they said "no comment."
Glenn Beck offered his trademark "chalkboard" teachings. He said America needs "less Marx and more Madison." He argued that America will prevent an economic holocaust only by returning to conservative principles, and the only legitimate role of government is to protect us from the "bad guys."
I think he's right. The U.S. needs to return to its founding principles. We need courage to stand up and to say what we need and want. I have learned that freedom is about not backing down - it's about participating in your government, following races, working in campaigns and making your opinion known.
Freedom for me is having the ability to question my government, from my local community leaders all the way to the White House. Freedom means having candidates for whom we can vote and being able to come to this conference without fear of retribution from the government. It means being able to decide my doctor and my health care plan.
Freedom means having a job of which I am proud. Freedom means volunteering for an organization you believe in. Freedom means having the opportunity to have this column printed in a newspaper, and letting my voice be heard.
Lisa Verlato Nancollas resides in Lewistown and has served as treasurer for the Mifflin County Republican Party.