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 Breitbart.com
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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