Image Credits: Sarah Gibson, Future Female Leaders

What does springtime mean to conservatives? In some cases, it means an anticipated primary season. To those hustling at their hill-ternships, it means the beloved return of cherry blossoms in D.C. For conservatives from coast to coast, springtime is home to the most anticipated event of the year.  Conservative Political Action Conference, otherwise known as CPAC.

CPAC, for those who have yet to attend, is the trip of a lifetime for any young politico looking for insight, connections and encouragement as he or she continues fighting for conservatism on campus and throughout local communities. Though most people from our generation (the politically obsessed, at least) are familiar with the event, many are unaware that the host of CPAC, the American Conservative Union, hosts additional events throughout the year.  These are to focus on specific local issues and award successful legislators.

On September 21st, I attended an ACU battleground event in The Villages, FL. If you’re not from the area, think palm trees and golf carts. The event may have been held in a retirement community where I was the youngest by about 50 years.  But make no mistake, the event was full of excitement and character as expected at any ACU event. Sunshine Showdown focused on economic hardships facing this nation, as well as practical solutions to take a stand against damaging legislature.


Opening the event, ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp introduced experienced panelists to discuss the current hardships Americans have been facing and how we can become activists for change to our elected officials. “Obama said every measure of the economy is better, but we are only at 1% annualized growth; Obama will be the first president to never hit 3%,” former SEC commissioner Kathy Casey said. “You can’t spend yourself into economic growth.” Believe it or not, this is big deal. Obama took advantage of campaigning on a bad economy in 2008.  Eight years later, panelists at Sunshine Showdown prove that Obama’s economic record is nothing to brag about as he prepares to leave the Oval Office.

Terry Schilling added to the discussion reasoning that if the economy is doing so well, some 60% of Americans shouldn’t be saying that economy is the number one issue this election.

Obama is right about the economy, because he lives in Washington D.C. and the economy is booming there,” Executive Director of ACU, Daniel Schneider, stated.

Casey argued in favor of making less decisions at the federal level, as that is not always the most suitable choice. The panel discussed how change can be brought about, encouraging the audience to reach out to their elected officials and influence the actions they take when in session.


The featured speaker, Mary Thomas, is a conservative and former Congressional candidate who spent her time speaking with the audience on returning to states rights and putting power in the hands of the people. A message that all of us conservatives can get behind.

Former Congressional candidate for Florida’s 2nd District, Mary Thomas, addresses an excited audience.

Former Congressional candidate for Florida’s 2nd District, Mary Thomas, addresses an excited audience.

We have to get the power out of the agencies, get it back to lawmakers, and only then does power return to ‘We the People,’” Thomas said.

Thomas pushed for further rights given to the states.  She believes a government that governs best, governs closest to the people.

Sunshine Showdown wrapped up with a debate between the representatives arguing each presidential candidate’s economic plans. Charles Keckler argued in favor of Hillary Clinton, receiving the occasional boo from the audience, as Donald Trump’s plan received a standing ovation.

Economist Stephen Moore defends a pro-America economic policy

Economist Stephen Moore defends a pro-America economic policy

The thing about liberals is they love jobs but they hate employers,” Heritage economist and Wall Street Journal writer Stephen Moore said. “We can produce six million jobs on a pro-American energy policy.

Moore also took a shot at education related to the economy.  He pointed towards education reform and getting rid of tenured teachers who are not performing properly in the classroom. “The biggest scam in America today is how much colleges and universities are charging middle-class families,” Moore also added. This point is valid and, as a college student, I definitely relate. We are in desperate need of a leader who will diligently address this increasingly problematic issue.

Though the event was roughly half a day, it proved a solid reminder that our nation is desperately in need of economic reform to prevent another downfall. ACU empowers both legislators and voters to stand up for ideas they believe in, express their concerns when necessary, and be a strong voice of common sense strategies to their local communities. Change starts at the local level.  Communicating your experiences to your legislators can help them better determine what path is best for us all.

CPAC may be the highlight of the American Conservative Union’s calendar, but everyone at the ACU works tirelessly throughout the year to provide everyone with learning resources and experiences, equipping them to spread conservative platforms in the very places they call home.

Sarah G
FFL Contributor