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Without M. Stanton Evans, There Is No CPAC: A Tribute

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To steal a phrase from a former Reagan speechwriter, M. Stanton Evans — the brain behind the first CPAC in the early 1970s and the American Conservative Union’s Chairman through the bumpy Nixon years — this morning “slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God,” losing his long and courageous fight with pancreatic cancer.

A true warrior for the conservative cause, Stan spent his life dedicated to defeating the enemies of America. His conservative credentials are the stuff of legend:  he gave birth to the conservative college publication as an editor of the Yale Daily News and then as an editor of The Freemen, and he studied under philosopher and economist Ludwig von Mises. Stan was on William F. Buckley’s original National Review staff, worked as managing editor of Human Events, and brought visibility to Frank Meyer’s notion of “fusionism” which laid the groundwork for Ronald Reagan’s eventual rise to the presidency.

In 1960, he drafted the historic Sharon Statement, the conservative movement’s mission statement, which still hangs on the wall in our ACU office today.

From 1971-1977 he served with distinction as our ACU Chairman, and we still think of him as the “Godfather” of our annual event, CPAC.  CPAC was Stan’s idea, and as we conclude what was the biggest and most successful CPAC ever, I am overwhelmed by the fact that we wouldn’t be here without Stan’s dedication to the cause. We stand on this great man’s shoulders, and our faith in America and our shared values make me hope that he continues to stand with us in spirit.

For decades, Stan knew the truth about Communist infiltration of our highest levels of society, culture, and government. He was vindicated in the 2007 book Blacklisted by History, but Stan didn’t need that book to know that he reported and stood for the truth. He fought Communism both inside and outside our borders, he took arrows from the Left as a lifestyle, and his courage and work ethic combined with his charm, wit, and sense of humor brought joyful hope to the students who became activists, and then became opinion and thought leaders. He taught all of us that the conservative cause is a serious undertaking, but one that ultimately should simultaneously bring joy to our lives and preserve those values that make America great.

Our conservative movement lost a founder, legend, fighter, and friend this morning.  The American Conservative Union will continue to educate the next generation of conservatives, and ensure that Stan’s life in service to the cause of conservatism is not just remembered, but continues to inspire us all, as it has for the past half century.


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