The battle lines are drawn — and freedom is the prize

The battle lines are drawn — and freedom is the prize
© Getty Images

The annual gathering of the nation’s conservative activists, CPAC, will get under way Thursday at Gaylord National Resort along the Potomac a few miles south of Washington, D.C. What has grown into the largest annual grassroots political conference in the nation will draw more than 15,000 foot soldiers from the conservative ranks. Their enthusiasm is evidence of the impact of this year’s theme: “America v. Socialism.” 

For the past year, the words from President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE’s 2019 State of the Union message, “America will never be a socialist country,” have echoed across America. 

The dividing lines for the 2020 presidential campaign are drawn. The lurch of the national Democrats towards the radical left has heightened both conservatives’ concern for our future and our dedication to staving off attacks on freedom itself. 


Our energy and commitment to protect and expand freedom is as vibrant and strong as it ever has been. The American Conservative Union, sponsor of CPAC, was created to promote capitalism, defend freedom and crush communism and has led the conservative movement for more than half a century.

This isn’t the conservative movement of William F. Buckley or our parents and grandparents. Times have changed. 

Today’s conservatives fight for issues as diverse as allowing American taxpayers to keep more of what they earn to promoting criminal justice reform, such as the landmark First Step Act that has helped to build new bridges with the minority community. There’s much more to be done, especially at the state level. 

Conservative Americans are fully aware that, although tactics have shifted and the political landscape is vastly different, the principles in which we believe are timeless. 

The essential cause of freedom is at the core of conservative thought. It emanates from the central belief that we are all created equal. It is expanded by the knowledge that our rights come from God, not from some earthly potentate. It culminates in the right of self-determination and the awesome responsibility of self-government.

Those enduring values are under frontal assault, but we’re ready for the fight. Recognizing that those values and our American way of life could be lost is a unifying theme and rallying cry for conservatives. 

Younger people are especially aware of how close we are to going the way the radical and increasingly militant left would take us. They know the devastating impact a move toward socialism would have on our values, culture, economy and way of life. With the most years ahead of them, they have the most to lose. Thousands of conservative college students will be in the vanguard of the 2020 campaign and beyond.

The light of freedom also shines beyond our borders. America is still that city on a hill that John Winthrop memorialized almost 400 years ago. The eyes of all people remain upon us and are attracted to our hope and vision. There will be attendees and speakers from more than a dozen foreign countries at CPAC, and conservative activities have met in Australia, Japan, Brazil and Korea in the past year. They also held an impromptu meeting in Hong Kong with student protesters fighting for freedom against communist oppression.  

As the world looks to us, American conservatives embrace our country’s role as the world’s only true superpower and the leader of the free world. We focus on freedom and the right of individuals to control their own destiny, and the nation to defend its borders.

Conservative policy initiatives stimulate economic growth and increase prosperity through lower taxation and curtailed over-regulation. Our hope and optimism stands in sharp contrast to the doom and gloom of those who want to take us towards collectivism.


As the president said in this year’s State of the Union Address, “The best is yet to come.”

Believing that our best days lie ahead is a galvanizing and energizing force for conservatives. Freedom is worth fighting for, and in the ongoing battle against socialism, conservatives will assure that America keeps winning. 

Charlie Gerow, first vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, has held national leadership positions in several Republican presidential campaigns. He began his career on the campaign staff of Ronald Reagan. A nationally recognized expert in strategic communications, he is CEO of Quantum Communications, a Pennsylvania-based media relations and issue advocacy firm.