When you’re fighting an uphill battle, sometimes you become tired, discouraged, and distracted. Just when it starts to get really tough, you come across others who are as dedicated—or even more so—to the fight. It’s these like-minded people that renew us with energy and passion for the goal.

The uphill fight I’m referring to here isn’t really the campaign for a Republican victory in November, but the constant battle we as conservatives are now fighting for the restoration of truth, integrity, and prosperity in this nation we love so much. The hill is steep and rocky, as we’re fighting for individual liberty, the free market, and traditional values in a culture and under an administration that attempts to silence and demolish these values with entitlements, mandates, and political correctness. I attended CPAC Chicago on June 8, my first CPAC event, and it gave me a reenergized fervor and passion for the conservative—and American—ideals that I know to be on the side of righteousness and truth. As much as I hate to use “hope” and “change” in the same sentence, CPAC Chicago gave me real hope for real change in America.

I suppose it’s a bit ironic to describe the Conservative Political Action Conference using the two words that most characterized the President’s 2008 campaign, but my interpretation of the words in relation to CPAC is starkly different than that of Barack Obama.

Attending CPAC gave me hope, but not Barack Obama’s definition of hope. It didn’t give me hope for more entitlements, more reliance on government, a more secular and socially-just nation, but hope for a free, more prosperous, more opportunistic tomorrow; hope that Americans are waking up to the lies and falsehoods that have characterized American leadership for too long, and demanding to restore integrity to public offices and have their voices heard. Conservatives of all ages, around 2,000 total, attended CPAC Chicago. Most inspiring to me, though, was to see so many young people like myself. I met young people who, like me, saw the dangerous direction our nation began to move towards in 2008 and decided to stand against the dangerous policies of the Left with the written word. I believe the continued dedication to conservative values in young people is this country’s greatest asset for the future.

Even more hopeful than the great number of enthusiastic young people, though, was the fact that conservatives haven’t lost sight of what I believe to be the underlying premise that divides American political ideologies today— the fact that rights come not from politicians, bureaucrats, self-proclaimed “professionals” and leaders, but from our Creator. From the invocation given by Eric Wallace, Ph. D., to Rick Santorum and other speakers several times quoting the Declaration’s immortal line, “we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights,” I was reminded of Isaiah 40:31:

“…but those who hope in the Lord 
will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We have real hope if we place our faith not in “leaders” who promise the impossible, but in our Creator who gave us life and liberty to begin with.

Listening to many of the CPAC speakers, I saw that, even amidst the constant barrage of incompetency and recklessness coming from the current administration, many conservative leaders are already instituting real, positive, empowering change— not the tax-the-wealthy and spend-our-way-out-of-a-recession kind of change that Barack Obama envisioned. Specifically, I saw that fiscal sanity is slowly making a comeback. Senator Rand Paul, earlier this year, led by example in fiscal responsibility and returned $500,000 of his office’s unspent budget back to the United States Treasury. Other speakers —Governors Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and John Kasich— also related their efforts to cut costs, institute reform and get their states back on track financially. And though he wasn’t present at CPAC, I think Scott Walker was mentioned during every individual speech at least once. Governor Walker, too, continues to stand by his principles and instituted positive change in Wisconsin that is projected to leave the state with a budget surplus by 2013. Even when the route is unpopular, conservative leaders have stuck by their convictions and made the difficult decisions to make an effort to restore fiscal sanity and responsibility to their states.

This “hope” and “change,”—contrary to the original campaign that coined these terms together—is based on values that are right and proven solutions that work, not on sweet-sounding talking points and skillful teleprompter speeches.

If you’re a conservative who is at a low point in the battle, wondering whether it’s worth speaking up for what you know is right, don’t give up. This battle for truth, integrity, prosperity, and a future for America isn’t going to be fought on some distant battlefield as the battles of our predecessors were, but it will be fought in the hearts and minds of the American people. Thomas Jefferson once said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Don’t remain silent, and don’t feel alone, because there are millions of other like-minded folks out there just like you, speaking up for what is right. The fight is just beginning and America needs each and every one of us to stand for the truth.

Sarah Hinds | Webster University | @Sarah_Hinds76