The Conservative Revival - by Jacob Laksin

The David Horowitz Freedom Center’s upcoming Restoration Weekend is the latest sign of resurgence on the Right.

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There may be a Democrat in the White House, but conservatism is in the ascendance. According to the most recent Gallup poll, conservatives now outnumber liberals by a large margin. Moreover, public opinion on a wide range of issues – from government regulation, to the power of labor unions, to gun control, global warming, and immigration – has shifted rightward in 2009. That conservative resurgence – and the growing opposition to the Obama administration it has helped fuel – will get an added boost this November 19th through 22nd, when the country’s leading conservatives come together for the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 15th annual Restoration Weekend at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

The theme of this year’s event, in a nod to the political battle within the country, will be “Defending Our Country and Our Culture.” In keeping with that theme, this year’s “weekend” will feature some of the leading figures – in politics, culture and journalism – on the frontlines of this fight. Among the political leaders who will attend are former House speaker Newt Gingrich; former presidential candidate Fred Thompson; Senators Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Jim DeMint of South Carolina; Congressmen Ed Royce of California and Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan; and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota.

The weekend will also feature some of the leading conservative writers and pundits. They include DHFC president David Horowitz; veteran conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly; cultural commentator Andrew Klavan; writer George Gilder; National Review’s Jonah Goldberg; Islam scholar Robert Spencer; foreign policy analyst Frank Gaffney; the Wall Street Journal’s Steve Moore; former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy; author Bruce Bawer; and columnist Ann Coulter. Jamie Glazov, the managing editor of Front Page magazine, will also do a signing for United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror, his critically acclaimed new book.

This year’s event is particularly notable because it comes at a time of growing domestic opposition to the Obama administration. Obama’s approval rating is at historical lows for a newly elected president and his drop in the polls in recent months is the sharpest of any first-term president in fifty years. The decline reflects an emerging backlash against the administration’s radical plans to transform large sectors of the American economy, from the financial industry to health care, through government intervention. Accordingly, this year’s event will focus critical attention on the Obama administration’s governance, with a panel discussion on “Obama’s Radical Transformation of America.” Mike Finch, vice president of development at the DHFC, observes that this year’s Restoration Weekend will be a “port in the storm for conservatives in the midst of our country being transformed by Barack Obama.”

The administration’s failures present a major opportunity for its political opponents. Bolstered by the growth in conservative ranks, Republicans could pick up significant seats in the 2010 midterm elections. But how do they do it? And what should be their strategy? To answer those questions, the weekend will feature a special panel on the subject of “How to Win in 2010.”

Besides preparing for political battles ahead, this year’s event will also honor an individual who has long been a stalwart defender of the United States, and the West more broadly: Dutch politician Geert Wilders. For his outspoken criticism of Islamic fanaticism, and for his unapologetic defense of Western culture, Wilders has had to endure poisonous personal attacks from Western liberals, as well threats on his life from Muslim radicals. He has been forced to surrender his privacy and has no choice but to travel with an ever-present security detail. But not only has Wildered not backed down in the face of public intimidation and personal danger, but he has thrived: His skepticism about Muslim immigration is now widely shared in Europe and his political party, the conservative Freedom Party (PVV), is having its best-ever year. In tribute to his efforts, Wilders will be honored with the Annie E. Taylor award at this year’s weekend. Named for the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive, the award is given to someone who engages in courageous behavior in the face of what seems to be certain defeat and emerges successful because of the courage of his convictions.

Conservative commentator William Kristol recently noted that if Republicans capture the House in 2010, they will do so on the strength of ideas and political themes that will not be found in the nation’s capitol. Instead, they will come from conservative leaders and activists across the country. Along with the Tea Party protests and the health care town halls that have so frustrated the Obama administration, Restoration Weekend marks the beginning of the conservative comeback.

For more information about attending the weekend, please contact Michael Finch at (818) 849-3470 x212 or e-mail [email protected].