CPAC 2017: 'We The People: Reclaiming America's Promise'

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, joined Glenn on radio today to talk about CPAC 2017, the difference between nationalism and conservatism, and the mind-boggling shift with liberals newfound love for the Constitution and federalism.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: I am honored to bring on the chairman of CPAC. Matt Schlapp. Matt is a guy who I think I told you a year or two ago, I had a kind of falling out with CPAC because it'll they were welcoming in a lot of people that were not necessarily good for the Constitution and didn't really like to have voices that pointed out that progressives can be Republicans as well.

Matt took over, I don't know, a couple of years ago and has really done a great job with CPAC. He invited me to speak last year. And they invited me to speak again this year. This year, I can't make it because of a prior commitment. We're on our way to Bangkok, the night that CPAC starts. Otherwise, I would be there. Because this is a really important CPAC.

The conservative movement has to really come together and decide who they are, what are the principles. What are our founding principles? And do they still mean anything?

Ted Cruz is going to be there. Sheriff David Clarke is going to be there. Matt Bevin. Oh, man. Jim DeMint. Mike Pence. Don't know if President Trump is going to be there yet. Matt Schlapp is joining us now. Hello, Matt, how are you?

MATT: Glenn, great to be with you?

GLENN: Good to be with you. Is President Trump coming?

MATT: You know, I'm hopeful that he'll come, but I can't say that we have confirmation yet.

GLENN: Okay. The theme -- you and I talked about a few weeks ago about the theme. Explain the theme of this year's CPAC.

MATT: We, the people, reclaiming America's promise. We feel like two things, number one, like you throughout the last decade, we've lost so much of what we want America to be and what America is supposed to be. And number two, we think that activists need to be reminded of the principles of our founding. And our executive director Dave Schneider makes every intern memorize the definition of what conservatism is from -- from a wide variety of viewpoints. And that definition, he believes is best said that conservatism is the philosophy that sovereignty resides in the individual.

It's amazing, such a basic term -- or basic concept, how far our government gets from that.

And so I know CPAC is fun. And I know people come to hear from great leaders like yourself, Glenn. And we were so pleased you could be there last year. And, you know, we were disappointed that the scheduling doesn't allow you to be here this year, but we want you to know we want you back. We want you back as often as you can. Because you have an important voice. People want to listen to those voices. But they also need to learn, and they also need to be sometimes reeducated, re-indoctrinated about why we were founded because so many of our institutions and, you know, mainstream leaders don't do that well.

GLENN: So, Matt, there is a -- there is a disturbing trend around the world towards nationalism. Can you explain the difference between nationalism and conservatism?

MATT: Yeah. Yeah. You know, conservative -- one of the things I thought you said great leading up to CPAC last year and in your remarks is, you know, you talked about this idea that there had been a pledge amongst the different Republican candidates. And you'll say it more eloquently than I will, Glenn, but you talked about the fact that we still pledge ourselves to a party, right? We pledge ourselves to our ideals. We make a commitment to our ideals.

And I think conservatism obviously is something innate in the human being. And so if sovereignty resides in the individual, I think it's important for people to understand who gave us that sovereignty, and that's our creator, obviously.

And so when people get pumped up on Americanism or nationalism -- I'm okay with those terms, as long as it means sovereignty and the understanding that we did come together to create a government and allow the government to have authority over us in certain areas because we've given it to them. I'm great with that concept of sovereignty.

GLENN: Yeah, if America doesn't mean the place -- you know, being pro-American doesn't mean the place. You know, I love the American flag.

Well, you know, I think it's nice. But I love what the flag stands for. I mean, America is an idea. And it's the idea that we should be holding high, not the things that represent the idea, but the actual idea.

MATT: Yeah, I completely agree with that. And, look, and I think we are trying to reacquaint ourselves politically with what these terms mean. Because I feel like there are so many Americans that feel abandoned. And that can lead to good things and bad things.

When you feel abandoned, it can have you reevaluate what you think and strengthen you and those things that are important. And it can also lead you to bad places. And, you know, our country is searching. And I'm confident that we're going to end up in the right place.

GLENN: So the Obamacare repeal. The -- I had a senator write me yesterday and say -- and he sent me a Politico article, and he said, "My gosh, this is frightening." And it was how the G.O.P. is turning on itself. And starting to eat its -- you know, eat its own. But there are real issues that are at stake here. You know, what -- are we playing -- are we playing games?

For instance, the G.O.P. that is turning against, you know, building the wall saying, "Look, we'll build the wall, but you got to pay for it first." How do you see this coming together, Matt?

MATT: Well, the legislative. Standing for borders, standing for Obamacare repeal, standing for free market health care in a rhetorical sense is the easy part, Glenn. You know that, right?

GLENN: Yeah.

MATT: The hard part is: How do you bring this together practically?

GLENN: And doing it constitutionally.

MATT: Right. Right. Whatever that means anymore.

GLENN: Right.

MATT: When the Constitution can mean almost anything. You know, it's almost like a throwaway line, when people say "constitutionally." But I know you don't mean that. But, I mean, in our society today, it's like we literally have to go back and read it to people and say, "And here's what those words mean." Right?

As you did last year in your speech at CPAC which was great. Because we have to make the old fresh again by reminding folks that all of these controversies actually surround the concepts that we're the reason that we disagreed to a Constitution. And so when you look at the practical nature of all of the things Donald Trump and the Republican candidates who ran for president and all those senators and congressmen ran on, now they're demonstrating, yes, we know as conservatives that they were right in what they said in eliminating -- in repealing Obamacare. Cutting taxes and getting rid of the regulatory state and appointing constitutionalists to the bench. But now we have to be practical and actually do it in a way that works.

We're not good at that, Glenn. So I don't want to be -- tell you that I think we have it licked and it's going to be easy. I think it's going to be really tough. And you get down to the point where, do you get 100 percent of what you want? Do you get 91 percent of what you want? Does the practical get you too far away from the principles that you are trying to uphold?

GLENN: Talking to Matt Schlapp. He's the head of CPAC. Which CPAC happens -- it's starting next Thursday, right?

MATT: Yeah, it's actually a week from today. Which, for those of us organizing, it is always a little scary, as you can imagine.

A week from today, Wednesday -- next Wednesday, we start with our boot camp, which is training for our activists. We always have about over 1,000 activists that come together on the first day of CPAC, that just simply learn to be better activists.

But you're right, the main program starts a week from tomorrow, the 23rd, and runs through Saturday, the 25th.

GLENN: Okay. So, Matt, have you noticed -- I've really tried to take a page from Milton Friedman who did this so well, where he would sit down and talk to anyone. I mean, he was a regular guest on The Phil Donahue Show for a while.

MATT: He was.

GLENN: And he could talk to anybody. And he was just this reasonable guy who stood by what he believed. I think there's a real opportunity now for conservatives to take this approach and ratchet things down because I'm shocked at the number of people on the left that are suddenly finding federalism as a really good idea.

(laughter)

MATT: You're right because they're seeing so much failure around them. Epic failure. And even they might be saying, "Hey, you know, maybe -- you know, most mayors in this country are Democrats now." You know, that's a real shift over the last 20 years. So maybe they like the idea that some of these mayors get to make some of these decisions.

Now, maybe that's not the way you or I or your listeners would view federalism. But anything we can do to get power and influence and money out of DC is a good thing. That being said, there's a lot of bad things that happen at state capitols.

GLENN: Yeah. What I'm looking at is this weird opportunity that I've never seen coming, where we have a lot in common with some not necessarily leftists, but Democrats, to where -- and, again, not the party. But people in the middle of the country are starting to say, look, I don't want to be afraid of the president. Right. Right. We should rebalance back to the Constitution.

MATT: That's right. Yeah, and separation of powers is the first doctrine, which talks more about the federal government.

GLENN: Right.

MATT: But also the concept of the Tenth Amendment, where so many of these authorities don't even belong here. How did they even get here? How did they get to DC? They don't belong here. And one of the things we're working on at ACU, is we love our conference, CPAC, but we're operational 365 days a year, and we have this great project called the Family Prosperity Index, which is run out of our C3. It's completely nonpartisan. And we're looking at the health of families in all 50 states. We rank all 50 states on the health of families.

And you know what we do, Glenn? We don't moralize or try to implement sermons into the public policy? We simply look at all the government data that comes out -- by the way, the government tracks us, as you know, in every conceivable way.

And we take in all that data and put it into an index so we can actually tell states, you know, if they're doing a good job with their families or not doing a good job with their families when it comes to public policy. And we've actually went to Rhode Island and talked to liberals who showed up. And they were shocked to know in Rhode Island, they spend about the most on their safety net programs, and the health of their families is about at the bottom of the pack. And even they were like, "Well, this is not what we want. We don't want unhealthy families in Rhode Island."

GLENN: Uh-huh.

MATT: So you're right. There's a huge opportunity to kind of break down these barriers.

GLENN: Matt Schlapp. CPAC, which begins next week, February 22nd through the 25th in Washington, DC.

MATT: That's right.

GLENN: You can get tickets at CPAC.org. I urge you to go. They have a great lineup this year. And I so appreciate, Matt, the invitation to join next year. If you have the dates, I'll put it on my calendar for next year.

MATT: Really -- we really want you there. We're sorry you can't be there this year, but you're a busy guy. We're all busy. You can't be at something every year. But we want you back next year.

GLENN: You got it.

MATT: We appreciate your voice. It's an important voice for the movement.

GLENN: Thank you very much, Matt. I appreciate it.

MATT: Thank you, Glenn.

GLENN: Grab your tickets at CPAC.org. And we'll be telling you beginning next week why we're going to Bangkok. But I'm going to Bangkok and the whole show is going. And we have something pretty aggressive that we want to announce. And we would ask for your help with. And we'll tell you more about that beginning next week. And then we leave for Bangkok -- is it Thursday we leave? I think we leave for Bangkok Thursday and we arrive maybe Tuesday. I mean, it's --

STU: It's actually --

GLENN: I've never gone to the other side of the earth.

STU: Yeah, that's really far. Really far.

JEFFY: Really far.

GLENN: Yeah, it's a long -- satellite is a lot easier.

STU: I was looking at one of the flights. I sorted for shortest time on Orbitz just to see what it was. It was 14 hours to Tokyo, then another seven hours to Bangkok.

PAT: That's only 21 hours.

STU: That's long.

PAT: It's not even a full day when you think about it.

GLENN: Right! Oh -- oh, cry me a river. You don't want to sit in the chair and watch TV for 21 hours. Actually, no, I don't.

PAT: No. But...

GLENN: No, I don't.

An immaculate Nazi doctor hovers over newborn. He probes and sneers at it. "Take it away," he says. This is the very real process that Nazi doctors undertook during the era of Nazi Germany: Nazi eugenics, the studious, sterile search to find children who would define a pure breed for the German lineage. The Übermensch.

RELATED: Glenn responds to advocates of aborting Down syndrome babies: 'No better than Nazi Germans'

During a speech to a delegation of Italy's Family Association in Rome on Saturday, Pope Francis referred to this cruel Nazi practice, which he used as a comparison to the increasingly popular process throughout Europe of "ending" birth defects, by offering abortions to women who have babies with chromosomal defects.

Here are two passages from the Pope's remarks:

I have heard that it's fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let's send it away.

And:

I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves.

When CNN got the quote, and it shocked them so much that they had to verify the quote with the Vatican—in other words, it didn't fit the usual narrative.

It didn't fit the usual narrative.

The Pope also addressed claims that he has dedicated himself to LGBTQ causes:

Today, it is hard to say this, we speak of "diversified" families: different types of families. It is true that the word "family" is an analogical word, because we speak of the "family" of stars, family" of trees, "family" of animals ... it is an analogical word. But the human family in the image of God, man and woman, is the only one. It is the only one. A man and woman can be non-believers: but if they love each other and unite in marriage, they are in the image of God even if they don't believe.

The media have largely seen Pope Francis as the cool Pope, as the Obama of Catholicism. It'll be interesting to see how abruptly and severely that perspective changes.

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

RELATED: MEDIA BIGOTRY: The New Yorker hates on Chick-fil-A over 'pervasive Christian traditionalism'

Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

RELATED: Time to reverse course: America is being corrupted by its own power

Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.