Last week was my first CPAC. I have been involved in a lot of political gatherings since college, but never one as large at CPAC. Now I wouldn’t consider myself old. But at 26, I have been out of college for a few years and feel like I can comment on behavior of those who are still in college.
I sat in the bloggers balcony during Ron Paul’s address. I was lucky enough to see Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty kids in their full glory. Freedom Works confiscated all their signs before he even began his speech and they were warned if they had anything hidden they would immediately be removed if it made an appearance. Those are not words you tell a group of kids unless you have dealt with them before. Their behavior during Ron Paul’s speech was alright, loud and active, but not anything that was out of place. I have a feeling taking away their signs left them a little deflated. But it wasn’t their behavior during Ron Paul’s speech that made me so mad.
While I am all in favor of active political discourse, I am not in favor of being loud, obnoxious and annoying as a way to bring attention to my political beliefs. I don’t know if this is what Ron Paul is trying to do, but severely annoying and immature was the only impression I was left with after witnessing they way they behaved both during his speech and their reaction to others speaking. Particularly disturbing was their response to an impromptu appearance by Dick Cheney. I don’t know how to tell you this kids, so I will just say it: yelling, “Where’s Bin Laden…war criminal…draft dodger!!!” are never appropriate responses to a former Vice President.
In addition to being annoying and disrespectful, I don’t really appreciate the Campaign for Liberty stuffing the straw poll boxes. It is common knowledge that the Campaign for Liberty helps pay for pro Ron Paul students to attend CPAC (Mitt Romney and I am sure others have done the same thing) and in return they are expected to cast a straw poll vote for Ron Paul. That is great that you are getting your name out there. But these are kids who are away at school and probably have little to no bearing on the primary process. Everyone knows your game; way to make whomever comes in second place the one that matters. That kind of behavior is the same as stuffing a ballot box in my book.
Full disclosure here, I voted for Ron Paul in Indiana’s 2008 primary. I did it out of spite at the selection of candidates that were left and I am not sorry. I like a lot of what Ron Paul says. His foreign policy, however, is a hot mess. If we were in peacetime with no active foreign engagements I would be sold on him. Alas, this is not the case and focusing on what might be rather than what is…is just well, stupid.
Emily Borkholder is the assistant communications director at Hoosier Access, an Indiana native who now lives near Washington, DC.