At FreedomWorks’ event, Free The People (#FTP2013) I was given the great pleasure and opportunity to work on the blogging team behind the scenes for FreedomWorks. Although I missed most of the actual event (it was playing on a small, muted TV screen in the corner), I did get the unique privilege to talk with some of the speakers at the event after their segments. Notably, we met up with Deneen and Tom Borelli, Mia Love, Rep. David Schweikert, Sen. Mike Lee, Reverend C.L. Bryant, and Glenn Beck.
I’m going to offer my thoughts on each of these fine men and women who are boldly serving our country in many different ways.
First, I’ll jump to the person you’re probably most interested in hearing about, Glenn Beck.
Glenn is one of the warmest and most passionate people I’ve ever met. The way he talks on stage and on his show is exactly the way he talks in person, and although he’s definitely prone to cinematic speech, he’s extremely pithy and doesn’t mince words. However, he also was very sincere, and went out of his way and used his preciously scarce time to meet and talk to us.
We talked a lot about his idea for a new associated press – building a network of new media reporters and correspondents who are dedicated to truth – and about the role of bloggers in the future of media as a bastion of truth in the wild west of the internet (that’s my metaphor, but seriously, Twitter is a saloon fight with barstools). He reiterated the importance of preserving freedom of speech. He referred to us (as bloggers) as “the Thomas Paines of our time,” which I believe is accurate and humbling, but in my opinion should only extend up until Paine’s involvement in the French Revolution. Digital pamphleteers. I do like the sound of that.
It was clearly evident how worn Glenn is, but also how it hasn’t dampened his spirits – although he walked with a cane, he spoke with enthusiasm, and when he was on stage later in the evening his mannerisms didn’t show any sign of injury at all. He also gave a big compliment to the staff at Mercury One and The Blaze, who he said are doing the work that would normally be given to a team over three times their size anywhere else in the industry.
Reverend C.L. Bryant, host of the documentary Runaway Slave, talked with us on the stage before the event pre-show began. We spoke about ways to get the movie, which addresses how America and the black community have traded one form of tyranny for another, to the audience that most needs to hear it – the black community. “That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?” he said.
Deneen and Tom Borelli
Deneen and Tom Borelli also came into the #FTPBlogPen shortly after and spent a while talking with us about a number of political and social issues. Deneen talked about ways to reach the black community, and suggested partnerships with businesses run by black individuals. Tom Borelli, an activist who focuses on environmental issues, discussed the systematic attack on the coal industry.
If I had to pick the most exciting moment – and I wasn’t allowed to pick Glenn’s visit – I would say it was the unexpected, passionate debate we held with Rep. David Schweikert over the benefits and disadvantages of a merit-based or a family-based immigration system. It was a heated (but not aggressive) debate that was full of intelligent points and insightful observations.
Mia Love discussed her campaign, including the narrow margin by which she lost the last election – ~700 votes. She expressed a relief that the campaign has moved forward to the point that she can focus on being a candidate, and not have to worry as much about the behind-the-scenes technical aspect. Mia’s campaign is notable for using powerful social media coordination tools to organize, something that has helped her reach a large amount of people in her state of Utah.
Mia also talked about the state of the culture in America, particularly advocating for an increase in education on responsible finances. She said that the financial state of America is a very important issue for her. We also discussed ways to empower America’s black community to be successful and independent, and cited a lack of positive role models as part of the problem, noting that many leaders in the black community claim that blacks are victims and incapable of supporting themselves.
Senator Mike Lee was one of the last guests we had, being one of the coolest legislators we have in America. Senator Lee was wildly intelligent and absolutely on point. We talked with the Senator for quite a while, with him offering his insights on everything from the progressive and liberal mindset to America’s current problems with the IRS and big government.
He observed that many people in America view liberals and progressives as people who want to destroy America. While he stated that for some that may be true, the majority of people with those viewpoints truly want to make the country a better place and have good intentions, however their methods will inevitably lead to an increasingly bigger government and, soon, tyranny.
He also offered on of the best metaphors for big government and the monstrous IRS I’ve ever heard. His staffers seemed reluctant that he share it, because apparently Senator Lee really likes this metaphor… but so do I, and I felt it was too good not to share.
“It’s like Godzilla. He doesn’t want to destroy your house. He’s just Godzilla. He’s huge, and your house just happens to be in the way.”
In conclusion, Laurie Dhue briefly poked her head into our room, which made us all do a double take as we realized who it was. It was great to meet you for three seconds! Matt Kibbe is one of the coolest people on the planet, has great music taste and facial hair, and should strongly consider holding next year’s BlogCon in Portland, Oregon because just imagine how that city would react to 200 conservative and libertarian bloggers. And Corie Whalen offered her thoughts when asked if she liked drones. “Not really, no.” She is also a fantastic public speaker and blogger.
Special thanks to the amazing Kristina Ribali who was so gracious to give me this amazing opportunity. She’s one of the people that keeps Portland from devolving into a tribal cordyceps wasteland a la The Last of Us. Thank you!
Check out the videos from the event here if you missed them.