Early last Thursday morning (as in 1:40 AM!), I jetted off for the wilds of North Carolina for the third gathering of
the Rebel Alliance conservative bloggers, videographers, and policy wonks known as “BlogCon.” This being my first visit to the state and my first face-to-face interaction with my fellow dangerous potential right-wing extremists (1), I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thought I’d have a good time. In truth, I had a great time, and the entire trip far-surpassed expectations.
I’ll break this into topics.
Effusive Thanks Department:
First of all, many thanks to Freedom Works, the Franklin Center, and the indefatigable Tabitha Hale for the offer of a scholarship that enabled me to go at all. It was absolutely unexpected and out of the blue; I had a marvelous time, learned a lot, and met some great people. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Then come equally heartfelt thanks to my blog-buddy, Sister Toldjah, who’s not only let me play in her yard for nearly two years, but graciously chauffeured me to and from the airport, introduced me to as many people as she could in spite of my shyness, and treated me to some wonderful North Carolina barbecue at R&R. (2) From beginning to end, she made sure I enjoyed my stay in her beautiful state and lovely city. Thanks, ST.
Finally, thanks and praise to the Hilton Charlotte Center City, which provided a comfortable room (all to my own), excellent service, and flawless Wi-Fi. And thank goodness the air-conditioning was adjustable. (Why do they always set it to freezing in hotel rooms?)
The Convention Itself Department:
With about 250 people, the convention was a small one (3), but very active and enthusiastic. All the presentations were held in one ballroom, with panels ranging from deep red meat (Stephen Kruiser’s rousing closing address) to matters of policy (Freedom Works head Matt Kibbe on “public choice theory.”) My favorites were the impressive rough cut from the forthcoming documentary about what’s behind the Occupy movement, narrated by the late Andrew Breitbart; “Data Visualization: Telling the Story,” which sounds incredibly dry but was very interesting as presented by Matthias Shapiro and Alex Lundry; presentations on investigative research and reporting by Lachlan Markey, Trent Seibert, Mandy Nagy, and Brandon Darby; and legal issues in blogging, such as suing and getting sued, presented by Kurt “#caring” Schlichter and James Skyles. Tons of good information.
The whole two days was worth it. You can find the whole agenda here.
The People Department:
Aside from learning handy stuff, one of the main features of a convention such as BlogCon is the chance to meet and network with people you’ve only read online. Quite often, you’d introduce yourself by your real name, but the light of recognition wouldn’t go on until you also mentioned your Twitter handle or blog. Then it was some variant of “Ah-HAH! That’s you? I love your stuff!”
There’s something to be said for being among people like you politically and not having to be careful what you say. Must’ve been how the people of Rohan felt after Wormtongue was kicked out.
In no particular order, I want to note some of the great folks I met. If I’ve left anyone out, it’s not because I didn’t enjoy our encounter, but because this post-con head cold has ravaged my brain.
Regardless, it was a high pleasure and honor to meet: Jimmie Bise, jr.; JKinLosAngeles; Amelia Hamilton; Gay Patriot; JCinQC; Gabriel Malor; Jon Fleischman; Tony Katz; Anthropocon; SteveEgg; Melissa Clouthier; AlwaysOnOffense; ExJon; Jim Geraghty; and Andrew Malcolm.
Not introducing myself to Dana Loesch while we were at the post-con bowling and billiards party. She’s a one-woman conservative war band. Next time. Also, the lack of Ed Morrissey, one of my early blogging role models. The woman who was so rude as to have a loud cell phone conversation in the back of the ballroom during a presentation. Learn some manners! Finally, getting my sinuses and ears all messed up by air travel. Argh.
Sudden Unexpected Thrill Department:
Seeing the news flash on my laptop that Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had been forced into a primary, and then hearing a moment later the whoops of joy from Kristina Ribali and the Freedom Works people in the hall outside the ballroom; they had worked tirelessly to bring this about. It struck me both just how powerful the populist conservative movement can be, and how wired-in we’d become. I think we knew before the major news networks. (For the record, I think it’s time for Hatch to retire or be retired, but I don’t bear him any particular animus.)
Freudian Moment Department:
Late night Saturday night at the hotel bar after the convention closed, seeing a group of hot conservative women smoking cigars. God Bless the South.
If you have a strong interest in grassroots conservative politics; if you have a blog, a video site, a podcast, or even just a bunch of post-its; and if you want to meet nice, friendly, and very smart like-minded people, you owe it to yourself to go at least once.
I’m looking forward to next year.
(1) According to Homeland Security, at least
(2) In the infamous North Carolina BBQ sauce civil war, I tried both the tomato-based and vinegar-based sauces. Call me a fence-sitting centrist, I liked them both. I know, I know… RINO!!
(3) For comparison, I often go to GenCon in Indianapolis, which last year drew over 36,000 people.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)