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  • Where Young Conservatives Gain Their Strength

    2/21/2013 12:27:11 PM Posted by Patrick Coyle
    Great Beginnings GroupBy Spencer Brown
    Last weekend in Santa Barbara: Wow. I've recovered from the jet-lag and my redeye from LAX to Dulles. A friendly reminder: 6'2″ people and non-reclining seats do not a comfy ride make. But a few hours of cramped legs and recycled air were barely noticeable when I look back at all the things that happened in Santa Barbara. It's Hard to find words I can use to describe it! It was more than I ever could have imagined just how amazing the weekend would be. Our group of fifty+ conservative students from across the country heard from current and past YAFers who gave us tips on the best ways to have an impact on campus.
    One morning, Alex Marlow (the managing editor at and lover of his dogs- just check his twitter), gave us tips on how to use social and new media to reach the members of our generation. He emphasized that Facebook and Twitter are where hearts and minds are being changed. It was great to hear someone who has become so prominent in the Conservative Movement tell us that our generation is going to bring America back (no pressure, right?).
    On another night, conservative film maker and excellent speaker Ann McElhinney spoke about her trials and ultimate successes as she works tirelessly to refute the lies and misinformation being put forward by liberals. I picked up a copy of her latest film, "FrackNation." The poignant part of McElhinney's presentation was when she talked about how blessed we all are to live here in America. As a transplant to America, and someone who has traveled extensively as a journalist and filmmaker, she knows how hard the rest of the world has it. It's a view of America not often seen in a time where government vilifies the American Dream and downplays American Excellence. It was a definitely honor to have her speak to us.
    At a dinner honoring the 100th birthday of CIA Director William "Bill" Casey, we heard from Herb Meyer. Meyer was the special assistant to Bill Casey during the Reagan years, and is one of those incredibly intriguing characters from recent history. Meyer is the guy who (probably) literally knows where the bodies are buried. (But he's sworn to secrecy, so we'll never know.) Also, he knows the truth behind who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II - this guy has a lot in his head. He spoke about the great work Casey and Reagan did as they brought the Soviet Union to its knees, and how they called the Soviet Union's bluff regarding economic growth during the Cold War. Meyer, Casey, and Reagan were an incredible team who worked together to save America and promote liberty around the world in revolutionary ways.
    We heard from author Peter Schweizer, ("Makers and Takers", "Do As I Say") about how Conservatives are proven to be happier, more generous, and just overall better people. (Don't get mad at me, liberals- ask yourselves why 51% of you think it's okay to break a promise if it's "hard to keep.") His books are must-reads and will give you countless statistics and arguments to use when embroiled with your liberal foes. For example, nearly 70% of conservatives are "happy" with life, while less than 50% of their liberal counterparts are. And while liberals may talk a big game when it comes to caring for the less fortunate among us, conservatives (on average) donate $2000/yr, compared to liberals donating $600/yr, and conservatives are 25% more likely than liberals to donate any amount to the poor.
    YAFs own President Ron Robinson, Vice President Patrick Coyle, and Program Officer of YAF Chapter Services Kate Edwards also spoke on a number of topics. They contrasted liberal and conservative ideals, talked rhetoric versus results, how the media demonizes the conservatives while elevating liberal counterparts to near deity. These three have helped me to get my YAF chapter started, and continue to provide me with the support I need to run an effective organization while promoting conservative values and protecting freedom on campus. (Next up for me- securing more support for students in ROTC programs, and a more patriotic campus with American, state, local, and university flags flying high around the quad.)
    Last but certainly not least was the trip up to Reagan's ranch, Rancho del Cielo, in the mountains above Santa Barbara. It is an incredible feeling to walk where President Reagan helped Nancy off her horse, where he negotiated with Gorbachov, and strategized with Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher. The entire property and the house especially exists as a time capsule, standing exactly as it did when the Reagans lived there. Clothes still hanging in the closet, the Liberty Bell-shaped shower head, even the black and white TV they'd watch "Jeopardy!" and "Murder She Wrote" on. It was an amazing experience to be in such a place, and to look at the views that the president and Mrs. Reagan would look over every morning. I find it best to explain in the words of president Reagan himself:
    "… the scriptural line, 'I look to the hills from whence cometh my strength,' I understand a little better when I'm up here."

    Having been up the mountain and spent a few hours walking around "The Ranch in the Heavens," I can see why he sought relaxation and refuge at his ranch - it was truly a place where he could recharge and rebuild his strength before flying back to DC to face political divide, economic problems, and constant threats from the Soviet Union. I wish that everyone had a chance to see the world from Reagan's ranch and point of view, and I urge all of you to attend a YAF event!

    Spencer Brown is chairman of Regent University Young Americans for Freedom.

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