CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) was held February 26 to 29 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center near Washington, D.C. JCU acted as an intermediary and 45 conservative volunteers from Japan participated.
CPAC is the world’s largest and most influential annual conservative meeting, held every year in late February for three nights and four days. CPAC was attended by President Trump, Vice President Pence, hundreds of conservative think tanks and grassroots activist groups, more than 19,000 activists, intellectuals, politicians, and patriotic citizens. All the media broadcast and report on the discussions at CPAC each day; it catches the attention of the entire country.
This year, with the theme of “America vs. Socialism,” there were heated debates on how to counter the increasingly rampant ideology of socialism in American society and throughout the world. The 2020 presidential election was also a central issue discussed at the conference.
2020, the year of the U.S. presidential election, saw a CPAC venue filled with more participants than usual. This year’s straw poll results, which has been noted for its influence on the presidential election, had Trump receiving 95-percent of votes from attendees at CPAC. These results made clear that conservative support for President Trump’s re-election is solid.
On the second day of CPAC, Vice President Pence gave a powerful speech geared toward those both inside and outside of the country, “Socialism has failed everywhere it has ever been tried, in every era in every continent… It is freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery and two world wars. The United States will never become a socialist country!”
In the speech, he addressed “When many in this rising generation speak of socialism they think about better healthcare, better education, and a cleaner environment. But the reality of socialism is very different.” He said that, historically, socialism has always impoverished people and deprived them of freedom. The fact is that citizens of the United State have the most freedom in the world and are living in affluence greater than any other country.
“In a short period of three years, we have made America great again! But to keep America great, we need to decide now that we will vote to keep President Trump in the White House for the next four years!” He appealed to all the participants as they cheered and applauded.
On the final day, President Trump’s speech was the main event. Thousands of participants lined up at 5 a.m. in front of the reception, all of them excited before the start of the event.
President Trump said, “I would like to thank God for the achievements of my administration. I’m proud to be at CPAC again with those who love our country, respect history, uphold the Constitution, and always put the United States first.”
Through his entertaining speech that included jokes and comical impersonations, he also criticized the Democrat presidential candidates. He also touted his achievements and the success the country has had under his leadership.
He cited specific numbers to prove it: record low unemployment, youth wages rising 16-percent, 2 million members of the younger generation finding jobs, 10 million people becoming independent from welfare, 7 million people no longer needing food stamps. He declared that America is now in the midst of a great resurrection.
He also reported the elimination of ISIS and Commander Soleimani as well as an agreement with the Taliban to end the 19-year war in the Middle East. He added, “America has declared energy independence. We are no longer relying on the energy of other countries. This is a big deal!” He made it clear that America has energy security and does not need to depend on oil-producing countries.
On security, he said; “American forces cannot be the policemen for the entire world. We’re all over the world. And a lot of times, we’re not even appreciated. It’s taken for granted. We can’t be the policemen for the world and the democracy builders. We just can’t do that for every nation that seems to have difficulty, especially for those nations that don’t appreciate what we do.” He requested each country to be independent. This made us realize that Japan will be required to have its own military power to contribute to world peace as an independent nation.
As for the presidential election, he summed up the criticism toward the Democrat candidates and tied up his speech saying, “[They] want to take away your money, take away your choice, take away your speech, take away your guns, take away your religion, take away your history, take away your future, and take away, ultimately, your freedom. But we will never let them do that.” He went on to say America has, “[The] best economy, greatest military, greatest tax cuts in history, greatest regulation cuts in history… With the help of everyone here today, the American Dream is back bigger, better, and stronger than ever before… The United States will always march on to victory… I want to thank the great patriots of CPAC. God bless you. God bless America. And we will see you next year.”
In response to each of the president’s messages, a packed audience expressed their support in standing ovations, shouting, “Four more years!” There was an incredible energy in the room. At CPAC, the dynamism of democracy, in which sovereign individuals choose leaders and create the future, comes true.
Notably, in the history of CPAC, a new platform called “International CPAC” was established in 2020. The JCU was founded in 2015, and since 2017, Japan-CPAC has been held annually– the first time for a CPAC to be held outside the U.S. In 2019, conservative volunteers held CPACs in Australia, Brazil, and South Korea, using JCU as a model.
At CPAC 2020, the “CPAC International Training” program was held for conservative volunteers in countries around the world who want to hold events in the future. JCU Chairmen Jikido Aeba gave a lecture for this session. At the international reception, which was a feast for conservatives around the world, Aeba expressed joy at the solidarity of the world’s conservatives and gave a speech about his hope for creating a new era with conservatism. “The World is Watching” session was held on the main stage just before President Trump, which Aeba also spoke at. He said, “The fight against socialism is not only in fighting it within the United States but also in countering the threat of hegemony by the Chinese Communist Party. It is necessary for conservatives all over the world to unite in solidarity.” Appealed by the importance of solidarity based on the principle of conservatism, the main venue was roared with applause.
Through participating in CPAC 2020, we realize the importance of “cooperation between Japanese and American conservatives” and felt that Japan’s political leadership is needed by countries like the United States and those in the Asia-Pacific region. Just as the ACU called for conservatives to rally at CPAC and helped make America great again, Japan needs to renew its determination to work in cooperation with conservative volunteers across the country to make Japan great again through J-CPAC.