IWF was able to experience CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) up close and personal this past weekend. We heard the speeches given from the big stage, but also spoke with and listened to the people and organizations on the ground (quite literally in the basement of the hotel). With so many different groups represented at CPAC this year, from tea partiers to the NRA to GOProud, one might be worried the talking points would be all over the place.  However, the resounding message emanating from CPAC through all venues (speeches, interviews, radio, blogs, tweets, etc.): limited government is key! This message is so simple and yet so important at a time when the current administration seeks to pursue unsustainable government expansion and entitlements, from its health care reform proposals to green jobs initiatives. (Check out Carrie Lukas here, discussing the President’s health care proposal  and here, discussing the green jobs obsession).

Limited government creates the space for individuals to pursue life and liberty, to use their inherent talents and passions to create for themselves (and their families) a free and fulfilling life. A smaller government grows civil society and advocates individual responsibility. State and local governments, being closer to the people, are better equipped to respond to the unique desires of their constituents. These principles were apparent to our founding fathers, and it is exciting that they were spoken of so frequently and passionately at CPAC this year.

CPAC, being conservative and all, calls for conservatives to be the ones to push for  this more restrained government. Speakers argued that conservatives cannot settle on being simply ‘the better choice of two evils.’ They have to do good work and make good policy. And it won’t be good policy simply because it is not liberal policy.

Yet this shouldn’t be-and isn’t-just about self-identified conservatives. Increasingly, much of the public recognize that they deserve better from their elected officials and policy makers. As is evident from the recently hyped Tea Party movement, more and more Americans are striving to be involved politically and to influence policy. They want and expect those in Washington to take their cues from them, the people they serve.  This is great news, as the more people get involved in pushing for limited government, the greater the chance of success.  Thomas Jefferson said it best that “The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty.”