By Baylor Cook, Columnist
CPAC 2019 came to a close this past weekend, and it’s safe to say the conference won’t soon be forgotten. The President of the United States gave the longest speech of his Presidency, the Vice President spoke, and some of the largest names in Conservative media were in attendance.
Some praised the conference, while others spoke out against it. The voices of praise said that the conference was a good representation of conservatism, and that it was great to see so many people engaged in the conservative movement. Others, who spoke out against the conference, asked why certain figures were allowed to speak, calling these characters ‘fringe’, polarizing grifters.
As an attendee of CPAC 2019, I find the rhetoric of the skeptics to be disheartening. To pose the question of why some ideas were allowed in the forum goes against the central idea that the forum represents. This line of questioning also goes against the fundamental notion behind the American political system.
Our strength as a nation is found in our diversity, and we should all know this. Differences in ideology, up-bringing, and thought are the driving forces behind our political process. At a very base level, disagreement is what drove the founders of this country to embark on this American experiment. And frequent, subsequent disagreements are what got us to where we are today. Disagreements, and the lessons learned from them, are the foundation of common law, common decency, and national progress. There is no progress found in an echo-chamber.
So, for the people that want to silence the voices of those who they deem as fringe, polarizing grifters, I have one question: why?
If their opinions are as ignorant as you claim, allow them to voice them; inherently, this poses a pathway for progress. Begin a discussion with them about the validity of their opinion, and throughout the course of this conversation, if you’re right, illustrate to them and to others the lunacy of their ideas. If done properly, in a respectful manner, not only will you convince your audience that these ideas are invalid, but you may also have the opportunity to convince your opposing counterparts.
However, if you choose the alternative route and bar them from the conversation, you will only strengthen their resolve, and further ensconce their belief in these notions that you believe to be flawed.
When you choose to bar someone from the conversation, you are just as bad as the big tech companies currently intentionally censoring conservatives. Why silence, when you can discuss? Why censor, when you can use the opportunity to educate?
The American people are smart, and able to discern the good ideas from the bad. The basic American belief is of limited government intervention, and an emphasis on personal freedom. The basic belief is that the authority figures shouldn’t tell people how to think, feel, and act, because they are smart enough to decide that on their own. But they are not able to make those decisions, unless you give them the chance. And when you eliminate the ideas that you deem as “bad,” you are robbing them of the chance to make their own decisions, and are just as bad as the far-left, who believes the government should tell people how to think, feel, and act.
Don’t silence ideas, and don’t censor people. Instead, engage in productive debate. That’s what this country was founded on.