Aventura, Florida—Conservatives from across the United States gathered for the third annual National Conservatism Conference, hosted by the Edmund Burke Foundation. The Daily Signal was on the ground for the conference, held Sept. 11-13.
Here’s some of the highlights from the conference:
1. Sen. Josh Hawley: “The American Revolution Is a Continuation of the Revolution of the Bible. The Left Wants to Unmake It.”
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., spoke about how the Left is engaged in a project to undo the American Revolution and separate the nation from its biblical, Christian moral heritage.
“We are a revolutionary nation precisely because we are the heirs of the revolution of the Bible,” Hawley said. “This is a revolution that began with the founding of the nation of Israel, of Zion, and continued with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth in the days of ancient Rome.”
Hawley explained that the Christian revolution was a revolution that changed the mores of society and “turned the world upside down.”
In a world of tribes, the Bible “introduced the very idea of the individual,” the Missouri senator said. In a world that valued the wealthy and the well-born, the Bible taught “the dignity of the common man.”
“Without the Bible, there is no modernity. Without the Bible, there is no America,” Hawley said.
The Bible’s centrality in our politics is the question of the age, he added. The “woke Left” is desperate to unseat its influence in American life, to “remake” this nation. It’s doing this, he said, by making Americans believe that the country is “irredeemably racist and oppressive,” that men can become women, and that the family is repressive. He further explained:
Their real target in all this, I submit to you, is the inheritance of the Bible. What they particularly dislike about America is our dependence on biblical teaching and tradition. What they particularly dislike about our culture is the Bible’s influence on it. And now they want to break that influence for good.
Hawley said that regardless of your religious faith and background, the “revolution of the Bible” is worth defending because it is the source of what we know about “the rights of man,” along with human dignity and equality.
2. Sen. Marco Rubio: Conservatives Must Consider Both National Interest and Free Enterprise
Sen. Marco Rubio highlighted the potential tension between free markets and America’s interests.
“One of the big challenges facing conservatives today is what happens … when the market outcome, the most efficient outcome is not aligned with your national interest?” asked the Florida Republican.
“And when I say that sometimes people start to squirm and get a little bit uncomfortable—suddenly the Wall Street Journal editorial board does,” he added. “And here’s why: because, in the view that they have, it’s like everything can be solved by economics. And it’s just not true. We are more than just consumers. We are more than just economic creatures.”
When discussing when the market outcome and national interest might not align, Rubio used the example of it being cheaper for the U.S. to manufacture pharmaceuticals in China.
Later on in his remarks, Rubio returned to discussing free enterprise and the national interest:
I believe in free enterprise, but you can’t just have growth. … Growth is important, but growth alone is not enough. It has to be … the kind of growth that also creates good-paying, dignified work for millions of people, because that’s the common good. …
Yes. I want things to be made in the most efficient way possible. I want investment to flow in the most efficient location, but it also has to be in a way that promotes the common good and doesn’t leave us dependent on supply chains that could be denied to us by a pandemic or by a prelude to a war.
He also discussed the American dream, arguing it wasn’t only about material aspirations.
“The American dream is about being able to achieve happiness as you define, and for millions and millions and millions of people, happiness has nothing to do with the accumulation of wealth,” Rubio said, adding that, “There’s nothing wrong with wealth. There’s nothing wrong with earning and working hard.”
“For the overwhelming majority of people, what they really want are the simple things that make life worth living, that make life enjoyable and memorable and to leave their kids better off than themselves,” said the Florida senator.
That means “the goal and the task of those of us who call ourselves national conservatives” is creating “a nation whose public policies are geared towards the common good of making that possible for millions and millions and millions of people,” he continued.
3. Yoram Hazony: “Liberalism Has Been Replaced by Woke Neo-Marxism. Now What?”
Yoram Hazony, author of “The Virtue of Nationalism” and chairman of the Edmund Burke Foundation, spoke about how America was fundamentally transformed over the past century departing from its Biblical foundation toward liberalism.
That transformation finally met its endpoint.
“Twenty-twenty was not a normal year, it was a watershed moment in the history of the United States,” Hazony said.
Hazony called this a “public paradigm” shift where even liberals were being turned out of institutions by the Left.
“In the year 2020, when the New York Times started firing employees because they were liberals, something fundamentally changed,” he said. “Hegemonic liberalism” came to an end and “woke neo-Marxism” replaced it.
This long transformation has reached its end point, and liberals ultimately don’t have the power or the answers to stop it, Hazony argued. Instead, it’s up to conservatives with a Biblically-oriented attitude to change our trajectory.
Until recent times, the Bible and Christianity was at the heart of American life, he argued. Its language pervaded the speeches of our politicians and provided the moral values that guided institutions.
A big part of the problem, Hazony warned, is that conservatives live like liberals.
“If you do no grow up in a society that has the guardrails, that is built around scripture, that is built around the transmission of traditions and their repair and their restoration, if you’re not part of a community that’s built on repentance, if you’re not there, then you are leading the liberal life,” Hazony said.
America is struggling because Christianity has been ejected from larger society to the point where many Christians are embarrassed to talk about the Bible and their faith in public settings, he argued. The only way for the United States to turn things around is to reembrace Christianity and make it the central focus of our society.
“When people stand up for Christianity, that’s when woke neo-Marxism has met its match,” Hazony said.
4. Kevin Roberts: “National Conservatives Have Revived the Most Important Debates in the West”
Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said that the national conservative movement has revived critical debates about threats to the West too often neglected and ignored by Republican leaders. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“I come today to this convention as president of The Heritage Foundation to extend my gratitude for the ideas and energy national conservatives have injected into the national debate, and my fellowship with principles you advance to rescue America from the barbarians inside the gates of our very own institutions,” Roberts said.
The Heritage president commended the national conservative movement for restoring a “proper” public orientation of virtues like patriotism, courage, honor, loyalty, wisdom, religion, and family in American society.
Roberts said there were three main directions from which the West is being besieged by mortal threats: the woke Left, Communist China and a “globalist, technocratic elite.”
Roberts lamented that there are now few civilizational bulwarks working against these forces. In fact, he said these once powerful institutions have fallen one by one, “like dry leaves from dying branches,” due to their being severed from their roots.
The rot is coming from within, he said:
The tragedy of our universities, the stratification of our economy, the gelding of Congress, the farce of our news media, the weaponization of government against its people, and the popular culture against their values; these were all inside jobs. As was the betrayal by the Republican Party of the families, community, and nation it exists to serve.
This failure by the GOP is in some way worse, Roberts said, than the fall of other institutions because Americans depended on the Republican Party to defend American values. National conservatives are correcting that mistaken path.
Roberts said that some libertarians “will object to the injustice or inefficiency of inserting moralizing government into the free market to which I say, ‘What free market?’”
He argued that much of Big Tech has become an oligarchy that “pays tribute” to the Chinese Communist Party, warning that China has shown how a police state can use liberalized trade “not to expand freedom for its people, but to secure its hold on power.”
“Milton Freidman was right, people should be free to choose,” Roberts said. “But truly free people put their culture, their families, and their national survival ahead of GDP.”
5. Rep. Ken Buck: We Must Fight Back Against Big Tech
The Colorado congressman delivered a warning to the American people: Beware of Big Tech.
Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 4th congressional district, highlighted how unaccountable Big Tech arbiters had wrestled control of America’s information infrastructure and were using it to further leftist ends.
He referenced how Big Tech platforms collaborated to boot Parler off the web in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“While the tech platforms kick conservatives off or freeze their accounts, Parler didn’t do that,” said Buck. “So, after Jan. 6, Apple says we’re pulling the plug… Amazon Web Services said we’re pulling the plug.”
Buck also mentioned how Big Tech colluded to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story. Twitter prevented users from sharing the New York Post’s report on the laptop, while Mark Zuckerberg, who heads Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has admitted Facebook suppressed the reach of the Post report.
“Hunter Biden’s laptop story was true. Hunter Biden left his laptop with somebody,” Buck said. “The images were there for everyone to see. The emails that implicated Joe Biden in Hunter Biden’s activities with the Chinese Communist Party… It is taken down by Facebook. It is banned by Twitter. You can’t retweet that story.”
Buck also talked about the alarming trend of collaboration between Big Tech and the government to censor content the government doesn’t like. He noted many companies are doing the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party.
“Hong Kong protesters had an app on their iPhones and it told them where the Hong Kong police were so they could go to another part of town and protest,” said Buck. “The Communist Chinese Party said, take that app down. Apple took it off the App Store.”
6. Balázs Orban: Europe, World Must Resist American Wokeness
“Although the Hungarian language is known to be a rather difficult language with a fancy vocabulary, we do not have a word for woke,” said Balázs Orbán, political director for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. “The reason is simple. So far, we are lucky enough to not have to come up with a word. Obviously, we’re doing anything we can do to ensure that it stays that way.”
Orbán hails from Hungary, a country that has received aplomb from some conservatives for thus far resisting the worst excesses of woke ideology.
But even in Hungary, some aspects of woke culture have managed to make their way across the Atlantic.
“Wokeism became a center of discourse in Hungary around 2020 when Hungary, along with other countries, played in the European Soccer Championship,” recalled Orbán “We realized that this practice of taking the knee before football and soccer matches was becoming more and more widespread.”
“The way [the kneeling] was being imposed on us was that participating in the gesture became a sign of one’s morality.”
The radical Left further tried to influence Hungary by targeting the country’s children, similarly to what the Left does in America.
“The turning point came when we realized that the woke propaganda was being used against our children,” said Orbán. “They started targeting our children, brainwashing young kids with ideology.”
The Hungarian government took action to fight back against the attack on the country’s children. Parliament passed a child protection law, legally enshrining the need to protect children from sexually inappropriate content in schools.
As a result, Orbán claimed, the European Union turned against Hungary and politically similar Poland. Orbán said the bloc refused to provide the country with funding to help deal with ongoing Ukrainian crisis.
“The purpose of the EU was to… ensure that equal members worked together on issues of mutual interest while respecting each other’s history culture, aiming at improving the competitiveness of Europe and strengthening the continent in the process,” Orbán said. “What we see today is often the polar opposite.”
Orbán concluded his speech by encouraging leaders and conservatives across the world to stand strong against wokeness coming from America.
“We need all of us to come together. National conservatives should lead the way. This is our mission. This is our task.”
7. Dr. Miriam Grossman: How the Left Is Destroying Children
Dr. Miriam Grossman, author of “You’re Teaching My Child What? A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Ed and How They Harm Your Child,” warned that the Left is inflicting irreparable harm on America’s children, particularly through the LGBT agenda.
“Not too long ago, the parents that I saw in my office were concerned about hookup culture and friends with benefits,” Grossman, a psychiatrist, remarked in a panel. “They worried that their teenage daughters might get pregnant or infected with herpes. Those were the good old days.”
Grossman said that the transgender “experiment” being promoted and foisted upon children had no basis in fact.
“There is no high-quality evidence that ‘gender-affirming care’ leads to long-term positive outcomes or decreases suicides,” she said. “There is conclusive evidence of serious harm and lifelong suffering.”
Grossman continued, “Decisions to block puberty, to take cross-sex hormones and undergo surgery are based on the child’s or teenager’s wishes. That is not practicing medicine. That is rubber-stamping a child’s self-diagnosis.”
Grossman also provided a laundry list of negative side-effects from hormone therapy, including “heart attacks, blood clots, strokes, early menopause, sexual dysfunction, infertility effects and effects on brain development.”
Surgery, Grossman said, came with its own issues: “These surgeries come with an alarming rate of complications, some of them very painful, dangerous and difficult. A nightmare. Hideous.”
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