Lt. Gov. Dan Forest roused the crowd at the Civitas Institute’s Conservative Leadership Conference (CLC) harkening back to a simpler time in America. Forest noted that those times are not gone forever but a worthy goal to return to in some areas.
Forest was speaking at CLC ahead of headliner Dennis Prager at the conference in Raleigh waxing nostalgic about gathering together with his friends on bicycles and playing until the sun went down before heading home.
Forest began by talking about how after doing a few CLCs it becomes hard to not say the same thing, but that conservative ideals are still worth talking about.
“You do this enough, you come to a conservative leadership conference enough times and you start sounding like a clanging symbol or a gong because you start saying the same things over and over again,” Forest said. “And that’s probably the challenge with doing this more than once is repeating yourself, but I think some things are worth repeating when we start talking about founding principles and economic freedom and liberty and these ideas, they are worth repeating because we are not there yet.”
Forest said that things may be moving further and further from where many conservative Americans think they should be but there is still something to fight for.
“In fact we may be getting further away in some cases, and so we have some challenges cut out for us here in front of us, and I think we also live in really fascinating times now,” Forest said. “It’s a very unique time to be in America where just a couple weeks ago we see the nation celebrating young people all across our country marching on the Capitol and marching through the streets to take their very own freedoms away.”
Forest was referring to increased calls to limit Second Amendment rights in the nation following the schools shooting in Florida.
“You know it was just a few decades ago we were watching people march for freedom and now we are watching them march to take your and my freedoms away, and theirs too,” he said. “And we are celebrating things like the breakdown of the family, we are celebrating the breakdown of God in our society and these are troubled times. I think what is most troubling about it is I have conversations with people, is when people say ‘well those are just the times we live in’ as if for some reason we have to accept this as our reality moving forward. And I think that is a dangerous place to be.”
Forest talked about the goal of spreading and growing conservative ideals as a battle and in the face of talks about removing the Second Amendment rights of large segments of the population that corollary is stronger now than in recent times.
“I know when you speak at a conference like this, and I look out here and I see so many faithful conservative faces, they’re going into battle with us every single day to fight the tough issues in North Carolina, but it really disturbs me when people say that those are the times we live in and I guess we just have to deal with that,” he said. “Because I don’t think that that really is the way it has to be.”
Forest pointed out he was not saying that there were just the “good old days” and that there are not more positive things now than in the past, but that there are important things to learn and preserve from the past.
“And I’m not going to suggest that there really is any such thing as the ‘good old days’ but I certainly think when I was a kid 40 years ago growing up, riding my bike around the neighborhood, that they were certainly simpler times,” he said. “It was a time perhaps before government started to be in control of everything, before government really started to run every decision in our lives, there was a time when the bicycle was ubiquitous instead of the iPhone and when we wanted to have fun as kids we didn’t get on our phone or our TVs and play games, we got on our bikes, gathered up our posse and we’d run around town. And we played on all that dangerous playground equipment that has been since now gone. Yeah, we fell off swings, we fell off slides and all those things and hit our head, but then we came back when it was dark outside, we came back home and our parents weren’t worried about us and they weren’t missing us, they knew where we were and they weren’t afraid for our safety, when we came home and had a knot on our head or a cut on our knee they didn’t hover over us or sue anybody, they didn’t call the government and say, ‘get rid of that playground equipment,’ it was a simpler time.”
Forest’s core message centered around how conservatives should not accept that times have changed and that the current reality is unchangeable, that there is a path to return to a time when people were safer, and maybe kinder to each other.
“Ultimately again is why do we assume this is the way it has to be I don’t think this should be an assumption for us at all,” he said.