What is conservatism? What does it mean to be a conservative? What is the future for the conservative movement?
In many ways, it is put upon the conservative ideology to answer these questions, especially at this time in its history where it is caught in constant conflict with an ideology that has a goal of increasing government's hand around the people.
In 2009, it is clear that American conservatism must be set on a course for the future. Following in the footsteps of 1980 and 1994, 2009 must be written in the annals of conservative history as a year of revolution. A revolution not in the physical sense, but a revolution in the political sense. A revolution of resolution, resolving conservatism to stand on the principles that the founders so ardently discussed, that Ronald Reagan so ardently promoted and the same principles that Newt Gingrich brought up to invigorate the Republican Party in the '90s.
In this year of economic turmoil, of a new president bent upon one of the strongest leftist agendas this nation has ever seen, of government wastefully spending taxpayer dollars and a year of the people becoming increasingly burdened by a growing yoke thrown on it by the government's increasing abusive regulations, conservatism is forced to answer the aforementioned questions. So as we are more than two complete months into a new year, and more than one month into a new administration, the question remains: What is the conservative movement going to do for its future?
At the Conservative Political Action Conference, these questions were answered by one common theme throughout the entire event - conservatism is based upon principle.
Principle was the clear theme of the events, because it is a plain and simple fact that if one wants to re-engage the conservative movement, they must take it back to the basics. It must be sold on principled views, on an impenetrable ideological perspective, that is rock solid upon its basis.
This basis can be found in an ideology that finds its base on keeping the government's interference minimal. This basis must also find its footing upon the protection of the people's rights - the people must come first, not the political powers of the ideology. This is what CPAC was all about - a congregation of conservatives coming together to better understand their ideology and help it succeed.
So, one could say, the conference was no more than a great college course for conservatives, a study in ideology and principle.
In summary, conservatism must be understood on the basis of principle. I saw this principle permeate into the minds of the people at CPAC. I saw a conservatism that is based upon such principle at CPAC. And I saw the leaders of the movement standing up for the people and for limited government.
I saw a conservatism that is ready to take on the liberal opposition. I saw conservatism coming back to its roots, and taking full charge for the future and I believe that this future will be bright.
Jonathan Krohn of Duluth is the 14-year-old author of "Define Conservatism for Past, Present and Future Generations." Krohn recently attended the 36th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and has made several appearance on radio and television, including Fox and Friends and CNN. He submitted the following essay following his trip to CPAC.