By Isidro Camacho
The Grand Old Party spoke in a variety of voices from the lectern at Washington and Lee University’s 26th Mock Convention.
There were 13 speakers during the two-day convention. While united by the label of “conservative,” the speakers reflected various faces of the Republican Party.
Kristen Solis Anderson, a young Republican analyst, aimed directly for the votes of the millennial generation. She called for young people to realize the pragmatism offered by the GOP. She also recalled her experience of being a campus Republican during a time when “it was cool to be conservative.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also reached out to the younger crowd, lifting his iPhone, by extolling the possibilities of combining policy with technology. Gingrich said that he hoped this younger generation would find a way to use the efficiencies of technology to remove some of the bureaucratic speed bumps in government.
Gingrich was alone in calling for efficient cuts in the Pentagon, but his overall point, limiting “big government,” was echoed by several of the speakers. The speeches of both economist Steve Moore and Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist pushed similar sentiments. Moore attacked the government’s role in economic policy while Moore appealed for rolling back taxation.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter gave an edgy anti-immigrant speech on Friday night. Her final remarks and subsequent exit incited boos from the crowd of W&L students on the delegation floor.
Issues raised by speakers illustrated various perspectives. Economist Steve Moore called for limiting the spending power of government. Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech urged the government to reinvest in the military.
Anderson promised young people that Republicans, in actuality, offer a progressive stance on most issues. Both Governor Matt Bevin and pro-life activist Lila Rose reflected a Republican Party grounded in traditional, religious values.
Ed Gillespie praised America as a country “founded by immigrants.” Coulter warned the that immigrants were a detriment to American jobs and other minorities’ access to welfare.
The unifying factor for all of the speakers, however, was their sarcastic disdain for both Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Norquist referred to the left as “competing parasites” and used the image of a rat’s head in a Coke bottle to symbolize what compromising Republicans do to the “brand” of the GOP. Speakers were also connected by their communal disapproval of the Obama Administration. Bob Ehrlich bashed Obama for his “military weakness.”
And Coulter blamed Obama for turning “victory in Iraq into a defeat.”