My CPAC Experience by Talia Girvin

March 18, 2021

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was my first political conference that I’ve attended. Before I dive in, I want to say how grateful I am to the Network of enlightened Women for sponsoring us to go because it was truly so inspiring and influential. My main goal for going was not necessarily to network, but mainly to listen and learn. Being a relatively “new conservative” in the past two years, I am always looking to gain knowledge about policy and different ideas. I understand that not every party is going to align perfectly with my views, so I was interested in listening and making my own judgements for myself in what I believe. 

Although everyone said CPAC was smaller and a bit different this year because of COVID-19, all of the speakers and seminars were so fantastic. My fellow chapter members from the University of South Florida, Ashley and Hannah, both can attest to this: I probably spent most of my hours in the general session room learning and listening. 

The seminar that stood out to me most was “In the Left’s Own Words: Disrupting the Nuclear Family.” This has become a very important value to me to preserve and cherish, because I have divorced parents and understand firsthand the benefits of a two-parent household and how it affects the family’s financial stability, morals and values, discipline, and most importantly- being independent from the government. I also believe that purposely disrupting the nuclear family is anti-woman. Women are told that they can have babies on their own, and “don’t need a man.” We all know this isn’t true and what happens is the government ends up playing the role of “dad.” This hurts all communities and all races. 

Another seminar I enjoyed was a breakout session about supporting our police officers. They discussed how “defunding the police” actually works, and how most cities who have started to implement this horrible idea are now asking the government for more money to put back into their law enforcement because crime has increased tremendously.

I got to see inspiring men like Gov. Ron DeSantis, Charlie Kirk, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, Rep. Matt Gaetz, and President Donald J. Trump. However, I also got to see amazing women like Morgan Zegers, Gov. Kristi Noem, Tomi Lahren, Dana Loesch, and Sen. Marsha Blackburn. If you asked me who most of these people were three months ago, chances are I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. However, that’s why I feel like this conference was so incredible for me because it gave me knowledge and confidence knowing I am not alone as a conservative woman.

Another reason CPAC was motivating was because of the people I met. Everyone was so incredibly friendly, even if they had differing ideas from you. One of my favorite nights was when all of the Network of enlightened Women chapters were able to come together for dinner. These ladies were thoughtful, intelligent, open to conversation, and passionate. In that moment, I looked up and down the table and thought, “wow, these are the type of women I want to surround myself with.” 

Earlier that day, I felt so inspired that I wanted to make my first political post. I knew it might be bad, and of course I was afraid. The left in general, but especially our generation is extremely hostile. And I was right, the comments were pretty bad. But, that night at dinner I was wrapped in so much love by my fellow conservative women. Many women came up to me and told me almost the exact same story about how when they started to speak their values, they lost so many friends, including their best friends. That is so disheartening to me, but exactly the reason I needed to make a post about censorship and being proud to be a conservative. I had so many private messages from people (liberals and conservatives) saying how they are so surprised by all the hate I got. Things need to change, and young conservatives need to take back our culture.

While I lost my two best friends over the weekend, I would not have changed it for the world because I gained something so much more at CPAC: confidence in myself, a thick skin, motivation, and friends around the country who I know would have my back anytime, anywhere. Dana Perino said something that really stood out to me which was, “I’d rather be disliked, but respected…than liked, and loose my integrity.” 

To wrap it up, I am so incredibly appreciative for this organization, the women who are in it, and for the opportunity to go to a conference with ears fully open. I don’t want to go into politics, but I cannot ignore my values to please others. I cannot wait for my university to open back up in the fall, so that more women can see that there is a community waiting for them, with arms wide open.

This blog post was written by Talia Girvin, a member of NeW at the University of South Florida.

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