I find Donald Trump intol­erable. I have no com­mitment to the GOP. But though it is imperfect, the Repub­lican Party is the most viable mech­anism for good. Year after year, with that mindset, I have attended the Con­ser­v­ative Political Action Con­ference (CPAC). In last week’s Col­legian, Mr. Isaac Kir­shner painted the con­ference as a three-day pep rally, con­sisting of nothing but speeches and relentless “person-worship” of our pres­ident and his sup­porters. If that’s true, how could a mod­erate like myself stomach CPAC, and even more, enjoy it?

The answer is simple: Skip the handful of speeches by Repub­lican celebrities (Pres­ident Trump, Vice Pres­ident Mike Pence, and con­ser­v­ative pundit Ben Shapiro) and enjoy the con­ference without the “toxic person-worship” that Kir­shner describes.

Rather than chanting “lock her up” during every interlude and swarming Ben Shapiro for a sig­nature, I spent my time at CPAC con­necting with the American Con­ser­vation Coalition, a con­ser­v­ative envi­ron­men­talist group, and talking for hours with former police officer Dick Heller, the man respon­sible for securing 2nd amendment rights inside D.C.

As a college student, the con­ference is very much a “choose your own adventure” expe­rience. CPAC is home to the booths of more than 100 orga­ni­za­tions, a grass­roots boot camp, a job fair, free head­shots and resume con­sul­tation for stu­dents, meet-and-greet happy hours at nearby restau­rants, and a con­stant shuttle to and from Union Station that allows attendees to explore our nation’s capital. With so many oppor­tu­nities at hand, many stu­dents only attend a handful of the speeches scheduled throughout the day.

The tone of political dis­course differs greatly from that at Hillsdale, but the annual trip is by no means a rejection of true con­ser­vatism, or an endorsement of the shal­lowness of 21st century pol­itics. Fur­thermore, “person-worship” and “us vs. them” rhetoric are hardly unique to CPAC. For those who aspire to a career in gov­ernment, the con­ference is an eye-opening expe­rience and, I would argue, a nec­essary exposure to pol­itics outside of Hillsdale College.

Giving 56 Hillsdale stu­dents access to the plethora of resources at CPAC not only ben­efits each indi­vidual, but also enables our members to shape the future of the con­ser­v­ative movement through engagement with other young Repub­licans — many of whom have never read the Founding Fathers or studied the history of con­ser­vatism. Ide­o­logical purism that calls for iso­lation is debil­i­tating to our movement and alien­ating to our allies. Only by engaging can we be a force for good in Wash­ington, D.C., and CPAC is the perfect oppor­tunity.