I had the great pleasure of being able to attend my first Young America Foundation (YAF) Conference in Washington, DC this November. I had no prior experience with either a college conference or a conservative conference before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The fact that I even had to wear a suit was a surprise for me. So here is my first-hand experience, what I liked, what I disliked, what surprised me, and what I’ll look forward to in the future.
YAF started the conference with a bang by giving us a surprise guest: Vice President Mike Pence. It was the closest I had ever been to someone who was in such a high place of power. I was impressed by his passion and enthusiasm to meet and talk with us, the future of the conservative movement. To be able to say I’ve seen a sitting Vice President in person is not something I was expecting before I attended the conference.
For all the grandeur of the Vice President, my personal favorite speaker of the weekend was Bay Buchannan. She gave a great and moving speech on the importance of protecting unborn children. To me, that’s definitely one of the most important things, if not the most important thing, we conservatives can fight for.
While the speakers were not my favorite part of the days, the Q and A time at the end of almost every talk was very enjoyable. They provide a more one-on-one experience, which led itself to unique and interesting questions. Before I went, I knew that there would at least be a Q and A section like ones I had seen on Youtube featuring Ben Shapiro in which he famously “owns” the liberals who “don’t understand basic biology.”
Thankfully, it wasn’t like that at all. The questions and answers were both informative and useful. It was more like two people sitting down for a chat. If you go to a YAF conference expecting to see libs get owned, you will likely find yourself underwhelmed.
Overall, I am not an individual who enjoys talking about politics for long periods of time. You may ask how then I could enjoy myself while spending a weekend surrounded by people who love to talk about that for hours on end? Easy. By talking about things that I liked.
Almost any topic can be related to politics in some way. I myself am very interested in the internet so I was intrigued to learn about the internet and potential ways to combat censorship. The issue we discussed regards the now famous section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, social media, and if or how to combat companies who engage in censorship.
I was fascinated to hear of differing points of view on the topic. While I definitely didn’t agree with everything people were saying, I never felt like I was wrong for thinking that way. It was a great two-way road of ideas.
Another thing I was pleasantly surprised by was the food. I assumed we would be fed, but I wasn’t expecting full meals or anything close to it. YAF did a great job making sure that we were well-fed and well-caffeinated.
If none of this sounds remotely appealing to you, I will unironically suggest coming to a YAF conference for the free pens. They were well constructed with a wide comfortable base and perfect for long sessions of either note-taking or drawing. The ink itself was of high quality with the flexibility to be pressed at different weights to produce darker and lighter shades of black, I snagged a couple for myself at home due to their comfort and how delightful note-taking was when I had one in my hand. But I digress.
If you are looking to connect with like-minded people, or even learn about the arguments of those who have different opinions than you, I would recommend going to a YAF conference. For me, that is the part I truly enjoyed more than anything; more than the Vice President speaking, getting to dress up, or even the free pens.
It all came down to the people. This is where YAF really shined, starting with the amazing group of workers or volunteers that they had running the event. So yes, I do think I will end up at another in the future. But not due to me wanting to better expand my political arsenal, but for the people I meet and have the pleasure of knowing.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.