By Krystina Skurk
Hillsdale College had a very noticeable presence at CPAC 2020 this year. We had dozens of students from our main campus attend, as well as many students participating in the Washington Hillsdale Internship Program (W.H.I.P.).
Hillsdale was the only college represented in the exhibition hall and had a double booth complete with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln cutouts for picture opportunities, a drawing for a set of books written by Hillsdale professors, and plenty of Hillsdale-themed swag, including free pocket US Constitutions, while promoting our undergraduate and graduate programs.
One of our W.H.I.P. students attending CPAC and helping run the Hillsdale booth, Elliot Laisure, said,
“CPAC was a great experience. I appreciated the chance to represent Hillsdale and spread the word about all the great opportunities my school offers. Any opportunity to promote the cause of freedom and liberty is of the utmost importance to me.”
Kathryn Ford, another W.H.I.P. student said, “Working the Hillsdale booth was a good opportunity to interact with potential students and spread the mission of the College.”
Four Hillsdale students interviewed 61 guests on Radio Row for 101.7 FM Radio Free Hillsdale. Students interviewed high profile politicians, media figures, and conservative intellectuals and activists.
In one interview, Hillsdale Senior Ben Dietderich interviewed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on education policy. “The Trump administration respects federalism and is attempting to reduce the federal footprint in education and return as much control, latitude, and flexibility back to the states as possible,” said DeVos.
Students also interviewed US House Minority Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who offered an important message to young people considering socialism. “America is more than a country, America is an idea, an idea of freedom, self-governance, and freedom of speech. The strength of America is our belief - a belief in the rule of law,” stated McCarthy.
Seniors Alex Nester and Ben Dietderich spoke with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) about the importance of American leadership in the world. "It has been America's values and principles that have led the world," she said.
Nester also interviewed Mollie Hemingway – our Hillsdale in D.C. Senior Journalism Fellow and senior editor at The Federalist. They spoke about the democratic primaries and the misconception that everyone besides Bernie Sanders was a moderate candidate. Hemingway and her co-author, Carrie Severino, also did a book signing for their bestselling book, Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.
After two years of attending CPAC and interviewing VIP guests, Nestor said of her experience:
“Doing interviews on radio row CPAC for the past two years gave me the opportunity to meet today’s conservative leaders and sharpen my skills as a reporter. In particular, it was really incredible to interview Nigel Farage both in 2019 and 2020, before and after Brexit,”
In an interview with radio host Tony Katz, senior Stefan Kleinhenz asked about CPAC’s theme: America vs Socialism. "Socialism is bad is a very easy thing to say, but it is not enough. What you have to actually provide people are the tangible differences capitalism makes in their life,” said Katz.
In one of her interviews, Isabella Redjai - a current WHIP student interning at Fox News, spoke with Charles Hurt, opinion editor at the Washington Times.
“You don't get to practice religion in socialism because God doesn't exist in socialism. The State exists, and the State provides you with all of your rights. If you don't believe that your rights come from God then its game, set, and match,” said Hurt.
Of working on Radio Row, Redjai said,
“At CPAC, I walked Radio Row looking for exciting guests, resulting in spontaneous interviews with guests like Charlie Hurt of The Washington Times and Matt Walsh who recently wrote 'Church of Cowards,' and learning to have informed conversations with conservative leaders in their area of expertise.”
Listen to all 61 interviews here.
Additionally, Hillsdale in DC faculty spoke at two different breakout sessions. Assistant professor and research fellow, Dr. David Azerrad, spoke to an international delegation about philosophical conservatism.
And Dr. Matthew Spalding, Dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government, moderated three panels on the future of conservatism, the future of the family, and the future of social media in the public square. The panels consisted of leading conservative voices such as Rusty Reno, Terry Schilling, Mary Eberstadt, David Harsanyi, and Dan Gainor.