Tentatively Excited for the Principles First Summit
I'm hoping for substantive conversation on foundational ideas, without a resort to partisanship.
Scott Howard studies political science and journalism at the University of Florida. He was involved in the grassroots planning for the upcoming Principles First Summit.
With the Principles First Summit in Washington D.C. approaching this weekend, I thought I’d offer my perspective on what I hope the Summit will be and what I’m expecting to get out of it.
As a young conservative who finds the current youth movements (Young Americans for Freedom, Turning Point, College Republicans, etc.) far too Trump-oriented, I am excited to see what Principles First offers in terms of future involvement. The conservative movement as a whole has become thoroughly corrupted, and it is refreshing and hopeful to see an organic grassroots attempt to course correct. If the Summit is primarily about foundational ideas, without a resort to partisanship, I know I’ll walk away pleased with the result and glad I went.
However, I would be remiss if I did not say that I am going into this weekend with a healthy amount of skepticism. Over the course of the last two years, the Principles First movement positioned itself as staunchly anti-Trump. During Trump’s presidency that was all well and good, but it does not bode well that the movement’s leaders and a significant chunk of its speakers were ardent Biden supporters.
I am of the belief that the revival of conservatism will come from within the GOP, not outside it, and so the alliance with Democrats leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. If the Summit does not address these concerns, or even advocates for abandoning the GOP completely, it will leave people such as Justin and myself back at square one.
The best-case scenario for this summit is a commitment to talking about ideas without delving into partisan politics, and a clear blueprint going forward for how to organize and educate the populace on what it truly means to be a conservative. At worst, I fear this will devolve into little more than a rah-rah weekend of speakers telling us how anti-Trump they are.
I expect things to fall somewhere in the middle, which means, while I look forward to the Summit, I do so warily. Whatever the case, I’m very much looking forward to meeting and networking with other like-minded conservatives.