Article by Miranda Devine, courtesy of the Daily Telegraph
Photographs by Jose Luis Magana
President Donald Trump kisses the American flag after speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference.
It was a festival of deplorables at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. And the Aussies in attendance took copious notes on how to bring the populist revolution back home, writes Miranda Devine.
When Aussie deplorables hit CPAC, America’s biggest conservative confab, last week, they came away with lessons from the Trump revolution which should put the wind up lefties and wet Liberals back home.
The key lesson from the US President and an emboldened new generation of firebrand Republicans is that being a happy warrior with brass cojones wins more battles than being a fence-sitting appeaser ashamed of your beliefs.
For Brisbane geologist Bryson Head, who grew up on a farm in Chinchilla, and works in coal exploration, the highlight of the four-day conference outside Washington, DC, was “being in a room with 13,000 people who would do what it takes to defend my right to free thought, speech and liberty.”
This year’s theme “America Versus Socialism,” hit home.
“As an Australian, it’s good to see so many other people around the world face similar challenges in promoting free speech and fighting socialism.”
Head, who has worked as a fruit picker, machinery operator, and shed hand, was part of a small group of Australians led by Andrew Cooper, founder of the Australian CPAC, which launched last year in Sydney, much to the horror of Labor Senators Kristina Keneally and Penny Wong, who branded it a ”hatefest” and tried to get a speaker banned.
Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine and wife Elizabeth Henderson, Queensland tech entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Steve Baxter and think tanker Daniel Wild, from Australia’s Institute of Public Affairs, were in Cooper’s entourage.
They were feted with invitations to Trump Hotel with Don Trump Jnr and a Ronald Reagan gala dinner, selfies with vice president Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, MAGA hats and Trumpy bears to buy.
When Cooper took the stage on Saturday, he had a captive audience of about 6000 people who were there waiting six hours for Trump to speak.
Suddenly, on a giant screen behind the stage, footage rolled of Kristina Keneally railing against CPAC in parliament last year.
“It was rather shocking to see the legislature in Australia wanted to ban some of us from coming”, said CPAC leader, American Conservative Union (ACU) chairman Matt Schlapp, who thinks America’s constitutional protection of free speech isn’t “quite as acceptable” in Australia.
“The left attacked us on the floor of parliament, the bureaucrats threatened me with jail,” said Cooper, “because they’re scared of CPAC”.
But “Keneally was the greatest marketer of CPAC ever.”
President Donald Trump kisses the American flag after speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference. Picture: AP Photo/Jose Luis MaganaPresident Donald Trump kisses the American flag after speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference. Picture: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Cooper told the audience the “Quiet Australians” who voted for the Morrison government are mirrored in America’s “shy Trump voters”.
“This is a platform on which those quiet voters can be turned into noisy voters”.
Lyndal Maloney, a Brisbane businesswoman who describes herself as “just a mum of four from the ‘burbs”, said she was moved to help Cooper launch CPAC last year because, “I felt I had to do something about the political correctness and freedom of speech issues that were a huge concern in Australia.”
Similarly, Baxter says, “If CPAC showed me anything it is that you have to … fight them until hell freezes over and then fight them on the ice”.
CPAC, held in a gigantic resort just outside Washington, has been running since 1974, when Ronald Reagan gave the first keynote address. Where once the audience booed Trump, these days the President is the star attraction and it’s never-Trumpers like Mitt Romney who are booed by “Trumplicans”.