I was privileged to win a scholarship from Americans for Prosperity Florida to attend the AFP Foundation’s 6th annual Defending the American Dream® Summit in Washington, DC from August 2nd to 4th. I enjoyed the three days of education, training, discussions, and networking with conservative activists, and I will definitely consider attending future Summits.
The Summit was held at the Washington Hilton Hotel – the infamous site of John Hinckley, Jr.’s assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan in 1981. Here are some photos that I took of the site of Hinckley’s attempt as it looks today, side-by-side with a montage of photos from 31 years ago. I was surprised that there wasn’t some kind of acknowledgement of the event, like a plaque or sign.
I flew up to Washington, DC first thing in the morning on Thursday, and scheduled a free tour of the Capitol with my representative’s office (Congressman Daniel Webster, FL-8). My current employer, Manhattan Construction, built the new Visitor Center underground on the east side of the Capitol, which opened just prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration.
For me, one of the highlights of the Capitol tour was the opportunity to have my photo taken beside the new bronze statue of Reagan in the Rotunda. Pieces of the Berlin Wall are embedded in the statue, symbolizing Reagan’s defeat of communism.
Towards the end of the tour, I was in the House gallery when Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan entered, but mistakenly (in hindsight) left while Sander Levin was blathering about tax cuts for the rich instead of waiting for 15 minutes to see Ryan deliver this great speech:
After leaving the Capitol, I walked across the street to the Supreme Court Building for a courtroom lecture by one of the trained docents, before making a three mile walk back to my hotel at Dupont Circle - via the White House.
AFP Florida hosted a Happy Hour event on Thursday afternoon and a continental breakfast on Friday morning before the Summit began. After breakfast on Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Biundo, who served as Rick Santorum’s campaign manager during the Republican primaries and now works as Deputy Coalitions Director for the Romney campaign.
Subsequently, I attended a breakout session entitled “Progressive Practices: Exposing & Combating the Left’s Tactics,” which was moderated by AFP Florida’s State Director Slade O’Brien, and included Anita Moncrief, James O’Keefe and John Fund. The session focused on voter fraud, government incompetence in our election system, and using the truth of video tape to expose what the progressives are doing.
After this breakout session, AFP sponsored a round-trip shuttle bus to the “Hands Off My Health Care: Rally to Repeal” demonstration that they hosted on Capitol Hill.
When we returned to the Hilton, they held the Opening General Session which included Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and author Arthur Brooks.
In the afternoon, I attended two more breakout sessions:
- “RightOnline: Advanced Social Media Techniques,” which was moderated by AFP Washington’s State Director Nansen Malin, and featuring Michelle Malkin
- “Tomorrow’s Leaders: How Young Conservatives are Shaping America,” which was moderated by AFP Virginia’s State Director Audrey Jackson, and featuring Katie Pavlich
On Friday evening, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was honored with the George Washington Award during the “Tribute to Ronald Reagan” dinner, and afterwards I drank too much Russian vodka with my new friends: Abigail MacIver (AFP Florida’s Director of Policy & External Affairs) and Jessica Lee (AFP Florida’s Operations & Marketing Manager).
On Saturday morning, while battling a hangover and dehydration from the previous night’s socializing, I listened to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and media personality Laura Ingraham at the Morning General Session. Bondi was brought on stage with the University of Florida fight song playing, which brought a smile to this Gator’s face.
For Breakout Session #4, I was fortunate to screen the new documentary based on the work of Dinesh D’Souza, 2016: Obama’s America. D’Souza investigates Obama’s motivations and inner compass -- “the dreams from his father” -- and finds that the theory of Obama as a typical, big government, European-style socialist is inadequate to explain his policies. D’Souza realizes that we should study Obama’s own writings to see how he stresses the importance of his philandering polygamist and Kenyan socialist father to his identity.
The anti-colonialism cause promoted by his father, a radical leftist struggle of the Third World to be free from the rich Western countries that take advantage of them, defines Obama’s vision of capitalism and free markets as plunder, with the rich oppressing the poor and prospering at the expense of others. Christian Toto at Breitbart.com reviews the movie here, and embedded below is the trailer for the movie, which I highly recommend when it comes to your town:
After the movie, I attended a final breakout session entitled “How Government Spending is Driving Our Debt,” a wonky discussion moderated by AFP’s Policy Director James Valvo, and included James Wallner, Dan Mitchell, and Russ Vought. The consensus of the panel was very clear: spending is the disease, and deficits are the symptom. The only viable solution is to cut spending while avoiding the seduction of accepting a tax increase. The burden is on activists to keep pressure on Republicans to stay committed to cutting spending, and to require accountability from politicians to do the right thing.
The Summit concluded with a fantastic Closing General Session featuring my favorite talk-show host, Mark Levin. I just finished reading “Ameritopia” a few weeks ago, and I devotedly listen to Levin’s radio show via podcast every day.
All in all, it was a great three day trip to Washington, DC, which would have only been better if my wife and children had been able to make the trip too.