In a speech Friday night for the Young America’s Foundation, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a group of hundreds of young people. It would prove to be a telling speech to see if the administration could reach out to young conservatives, many of whom have been skeptical of the new president. I myself, a member of YAF for coming on two years, was in attendance.
The speech touched on all the hot button topics for conservative students, including free speech, defeating ISIS, standing for life, etc. What was most interesting, though, was how Pence opened his speech.
"I'm a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” said the Vice President.
That line probably received more applause than any other part of his speech. In a concise, direct way, Pence underscored the value of upholding conservative ideas over maintaining party loyalty, and, clearly, that resonated with many in attendance.
To give some perspective, Young America’s Foundation is by its nature not a political organization. They focus more on the ideas that should determine political action, not the political action itself. Vice President Pence was wise to share such a message with this particular crowd.
The Republican Party should be used as the conduit to promote conservative values. That, of course, was all a political party was ever intended to be — a way in which to promote your values in the public square.
I’m sure that many students at the event were surprised to hear such a message from the Vice President. To me, it is very encouraging. An administration that truly has their priorities straight in this area is one that will ultimately be productive on the side of conservative ideas.
Haley Smith is a regular contributor to The Daily Wire and founding chairwoman of Concordia University Irvine's Young Americans for Freedom chapter.