It's turning out to be the year of unprecedented announcements for Glenn. First, the endorsement of Ted Cruz, his first ever political endorsement in 40 years of broadcasting, and now something he never thought would happen — a return visit to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where he will be making closing remarks this year.
Eight years ago, Glenn spoke at CPAC — and he took his chalkboard along to talk about progressivism.
"So eight years ago, I was asked to speak at CPAC, and I did," Glenn explained Friday on The Glenn Beck Program. "I took out my chalkboard and I said, 'You know, I have to tell you, I've been talking about progressives because progressivism is the disease, but that disease is here in this very room. That disease started with the Republican Party. And it's time for the Republican Party to recognize this.'"
Needless to say, that didn't go over too well, and he hasn't been invited back since. Until now.
Under new leadership, CPAC is heading back to its conservative roots. Matt Schlapp, the new Chairman of the American Conservative Union which runs CPAC, recently reached out to Glenn, inviting him to speak at the 2016 conference.
"So I gladly accepted, and I'm going to be giving I think --- I don't know --- one of the last speeches, if not the last speech at CPAC," Glenn said.
Matt Schlapp joined Glenn on the program Friday to confirm.
"As in most things, you get it right, Glenn," Schlapp said. "And you are going to close out the conference, which is going to be on March 5th . . . right near Ronald Reagan Airport. And you got the theme right too — Our Time Is Now," which is based off of Reagan's very first public event after he was elected president."
A curious Glenn wanted to know what prompted CPAC, one of the oldest conservative groups in Washington, D.C., to change its course from progressivism back to its conservative roots. Schlapp explained how over time, just like old corporations, organizations lose their relevance --- and Schlapp aims to change that.
"I think what we have decided to do is to say, 'Look, we have to be true to our original mission, and we have to be authentically conservative.' And I think if we do that, the market, which are voters and activists across the country, will respond," Schlapp said. "You know, we're not going to be nasty about it, but we're going to stand up for our principles, and we're going to stand up for our country. And CPAC has to reflect that because, you know, we're watching our country transform before our eyes."
Glenn and Matt went on to have a fascinating conversation about how Cuban-Americans, informed by their experience with communism, are playing a vital role at this time in America's history, perhaps being the catalyst to waking up American voters to the reality of socialism and communism. Similar to Ted Cruz being influenced by his father's experience with Castro, Schlapp has heard firsthand accounts from his father-in-law, a Cuban-American who also fled to America to escape Castro's Cuba.
"My father-in-law is a hero of mine," Schlapp said. "He didn't have a lot of wealth, but there was a entrepreneurial class in Cuba at that time before Castro. He started up little businesses. He was an accountant. They had a pawn shop. And one by one, there was a knock on the door and the keys were literally taken from his hands, each one of his businesses, and finally his home. And when that happened, he said to himself and he said to his family, 'Enough is enough.'"
For more of Glenn's conversation with Matt Schlapp, listen below. Get details about CPAC 2016 online.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:
GLENN: You know, Ronald Reagan said in the 1980s, he said, "Our time is now. Fellow citizens, fellow conservatives, our time is right now. Our moment has arrived to stand shoulder to shoulder in the thickest of the fight. If we carry the day and turn the tide, we can hope that as long as men speak of freedom and those who have protected it, they will remember us. And they will say, 'Here were the brave, and here their place of honor.'"
It is that time again, as I've been saying for a while, that George Washington talked about, "Let us raise a standard that the wise and the honest can repair," what he was talking about was the Constitution: Let's raise that standard up.
So when things get tough, this is the place where people will run for shelter and they will return to it and they will remember what we did and they'll restore America. Now is our time.
In the first time in my lifetime, we have a chance to have somebody, I think, even possibly greater than Ronald Reagan on principles. Ronald Reagan was really, truly remarkable, but the president that the progressive left wants to hide is Calvin Coolidge. And he's the guy who cut the government in half. 50 percent. And we had a deeper depression in 1920 than we did in 1933.
1933, progressives took a hold of it, and we had the Great Depression. But in 1920, we had a greater depression, and a real constitutional conservative took the helm, cut the size of government, cut the spending of government, and we were out of that depression within 18 months. We have a chance of restoring our principles and getting back on -- on point.
Now, I want to -- I want to tell you that as I've always said, the progressive party was started by the Republicans. Not the Democrats. The Republican Party under Theodore Roosevelt started it. The cancer started in the Republican Party. And so when you see people like Mitt Romney, when you see people -- Lindsey Graham, John McCain, they all might be fine people. But they are progressives. And just a touch of progressivism takes us away from the Constitution. And takes us away -- many of our so-called conservative friends are not constitutional. Many of our conservative friends are not conservatives.
Donald Trump is a very good example of this. The guy is not a conservative. Tell me one thing where he's lived his life in a conservative way. I got a very special Bible. A Bible before it my mom. I've never opened it. But I keep it in a very special place. He's not a conservative.
So eight years ago, I was asked to speak at CPAC. And I did. And I took out my chalkboard. And I said, "You know, I have to tell you, I've been talking about progressives because progressivism is the disease, but that disease is here in this very room. That disease started with the Republican Party. And it's time for the Republican Party to recognize this." Well, I haven't been invited back at CPAC. And it's been an interesting -- it's been an interesting thing to watch CPAC battle for its place, battle for its soul.
Are they going to be a progressive establishment organization, or are they going to be a true conservative organization?
I was reading an article just a couple of days ago: Under new leadership, CPAC heads in a more conservative direction. There is new leadership at CPAC.
And Matt Schlapp, who is now the -- I think he's the chairman of ACU, which runs CPAC, he called me the other day. And he said, "We would like to let you know that CPAC is changing. We found our conservative footing, and we want everyone to know that now is the time. Now is our time as conservatives. And we would like you to close CPAC."
So I gladly accepted. And I'm going to be giving I think -- I don't know -- one of the last speeches, if not the last speech, at CPAC, closing it out this coming CPAC, which I don't have the dates.
But I do happen to have Matt Schlapp on the phone, who is the new chairman of ACU.
Did I get this right, Matt, I mean, about the change of CPAC?
MATT: As in most things, you get it right, Glenn. And you are going to close out the conference, which is going to be on March 5th. Saturday, March 5th, right near Ronald Reagan Airport. And you got the theme right too: Our time is now. Which is based off of Reagan's very first public event after he was elected president.
GLENN: So tell me, Matt, why the change? Because CPAC was headed in a very progressive, less conservative kind of direction. And it was really disappointing to watch.
Why the change? What's happened?
MATT: You know, sometimes people have disagreements, and sometimes there are people that make bad choices. But one thing that's happened is the conservative world with conservative organizations in Washington, Glenn, is that we're really old. A lot of times we start off by saying, "We're the oldest conservative group." And we are. We were started by William F. Buckley, right after Barry Goldwater lost the presidential election of 1964.
And over time, it gets hard for organizations to find relevance. And I think there are times for those -- just like old corporations, we see them, you know, making mistakes as well. And I think what we have decided to do is to say, "Look, we have to be true to our original mission, and we have to be authentically conservative." And I think if we do that, the market, which are voters and activists across the country, will respond.
And that's what we're seeing. They're responding to the fact that we're saying -- you know, we're not we're not going to be nasty about it. But we're going to stand up for our principles, and we're going to stand up for our country. And CPAC has to reflect that because, you know, we're watching our country transform before our eyes.
GLENN: Let me ask you this: Usually I don't know -- usually I know pretty much the answer before I would ask, but I have no idea how you're going to answer this one. How much of a role does your father-in-law play in your conservative views?
MATT: Oh, that's a really kind question. My father-in-law is a hero of mine. My father-in-law grew up in Cuba. He was like a lot of people. He didn't have a lot of -- he didn't have a lot of wealth. But there was a entrepreneurial class in Cuba at that time before Castro. He started up little businesses. He was an accountant. They had a pawn shop. And one by one, there was a knock on the door and the keys were literally taken from his hands, each one of his businesses, and finally his home. And when that happened, he said to himself and he said to his family, "Enough is enough." And he was a young man at this point. And he said, "We have to do something to stop Castro." And he actually organized with friends and associates a -- you know, they were freedom fighters. And they pulled together. And they actually tried to HEP effasinate Castro with a bazooka.
And, Glenn, they actually got the bazooka, because in freedom-loving places, there were always firearms available for good purposes. They got the bazooka, but they had an insurgent inside them who tattled on them. And many of them were assassinated. Many of them died in prison. His cellmate was assassinated in prison. And this feisty guy got out of prison, took on Castro, and is still alive to this day and is absolutely disgusted and appalled at Washington -- what the country he now loves, America, is doing in embracing the Castros. It's just another example of what Obama is doing to try -- to try to destroy the underpinnings of our country.
GLENN: I will tell you this: I think -- this is one of the reasons why I trust Ted Cruz so much because I know his dad. And, you know, his dad had a similar story: He was marching to his execution, and thought, "It is all -- it's all over." Got to America and really understood what Castro was doing. And worked against Castro here. And raised his son to be who Ted Cruz is. And I find it interesting that it is the Cuban-Americans that are starting to rise to the top. And I think many of them were raised for this time in particular. Because their fathers or their mothers experienced it and can see it, unlike anybody else.
And I know this is your father-in-law. That's why I asked the question. I mean, how much has he influenced you on where you're headed now and what you see coming our way?
MATT: Well, let me tell you, when I his beautiful daughter, my wife Mercedes, who is named after the Virgin of HEP Mercedes because he prayed to her. He said -- he's not an overly religious man, Glenn. That's actually something my wife and I work on him on.
But, you know, he did believe that if he prayed, maybe he would get released from jail. And he prayed to the Virgin of Mercedes. And when he was released, he named his daughter Mercedes. And, you know, it is -- it's a beautiful story.
I do think that these people are -- these people who fled tyranny understand it better than those of us who have read about it in our history books. And on our first date, we both asked each other questions.
The most thing that I was worried about my future wife might be is a Miami Hurricanes fan because I've been fighting Irishmen from Notre Dame, and I was very worried that I couldn't possibly get through Saturday afternoons if she was a Miami Hurricane fan.
And her question for me, Glenn, was -- this had just happened at the end of the Clinton administration. She said, "Elliot HEP Gonzalez, send them back or keep them?" And I said without a hesitation, "Keep them." And you never return a boy back to the commies. That's one thing that's knit in all of our souls.
And that got that first date off to the right start, I'll tell you that much.
GLENN: You know, you just openly talk about God here. I'm in South Carolina. I got in the car. I just did an event early this morning. And I got into the car and I said to my team, "You know what's really nice, in Texas and in the Carolinas, it's like -- there's a few places in the country it's like this, but it's certainly not like this in the North. And the North, I have to kind of watch my words because you can't speak the language of God. You just can't say, 'Look, read your Scriptures. You know what it says. You know where we are.' Because that just puts you into a freak zone."
MATT: That's right.
GLENN: The culture has decayed. And without organizations -- this is why it was so sad when I just saw CPAC and other organizations kind of saying, "Well, you know, conservatives, we're more establishment." The culture is decaying. And if we don't grab on to the roots of our culture, we're doomed.
MATT: We're doomed. And I drive my four kids to school every morning. My five girls, I drive four of them to school every morning. You know, I'm a news guy, so I'm listening to what's happening on the news. You know, Glenn, when you have young kids, you really can't listen to the news anymore. I have to lower that volume almost every morning because really all the news is concerned with is gender confusion and bathrooms and things that are -- you know, you scratch your head.
With everything that's going on in the world, our focus as a country is really on all the wrong things. And it's a sad thing for kids. And I'm completely where you are, in terms of how dire the situation is, but I continue to be hopeful. And that's why we have this Ronald Reagan quote as our theme for our CPAC conference.
You know, we're in the thickest of the fight. And if we stand shoulder to shoulder, we can save our country. And our country is worth saving still.
And I think it's Biblical. You know, whenever you have good people still, it's worth saving. And there are wonderful people out there, and we need to band together. And we need to grow our numbers. And in a democracy, we need to convince others to stand with us. And CPAC, I think, is a very important moment in this presidential campaign to do that.
GLENN: You don't have a problem with me speaking my mind because I'm going to let it all hang out.
MATT: You know, Glenn, if I did have a problem with that, would I be successful in trying to edit you?
GLENN: Okay. Good. No, you wouldn't. No, you wouldn't.
I'm thrilled and honored that you would ask as you reset CPAC, and I can't wait. So we'll see you there.
MATT: You're going to close us down. But you're going to close us down by lifting us up. And the stakes are high.
GLENN: Thank you very much, I appreciate it, man. There it is. Something that I would never thought would happen, I'm going to be closing down -- in a positive way, I'm going to be closing down CPAC. Because there was a while there, I might want to close down CPAC. But that's a different story.
Featured Images: Courtesy of CPAC