For the next three days, thousands of conservatives from across the country are gathering in Washington, for the Conservative Political Action Conference, better known as CPAC.

Those of us who are CPAC veterans are here to mobilize our elected officials and channel the energy that the country is feeling into productive action. Everyone senses the momentum, and it’s time to direct that momentum in the right direction to tackle some serious problems.

It’s refreshing to see thousands of young people here from all across America. The young are here because they understand that it’s their future on the line. They’re mainly college students, concerned about finding a job and well-aware that Social Security, Medicare and the other out-of-control spending programs can’t last until they’re old enough to qualify for them. To a person, they’re also concerned about the trillions and trillions of dollars in debt being piled up, with every single one of them aware that they’re the ones who have to pay it off.

In fact, they know that it will outlast them. One thing that stands out about these college students and twenty-somethings is that they’ve done the math, and are talking about how their own children will be stuck with part of the bill for Barack Obama’s spending orgy. They don’t even have children yet, but already they realize that beyond their own careers, some of this debt with be with us thirty years from now when their yet-unborn offspring start working.

My experience at CPAC is a complete contradiction to what many on the left would like to claim, that young people are more liberal and the conservative movement only draws support from a bunch of grumpy old white men. There are plenty of older people here, to be sure. But most of the attendees appear to be in their twenties and thirties (and even some late teens).

If CPAC is any indication, America’s young people are now wide awake. They’re intently listening to the elected officials and conservative luminaries on stage, hungry for ideas and ready to act.

Since many of these same young people weren’t even able to vote when Obama was elected in 2008 and many more will become registered voters by 2012, the White House should be in a cold sweat if what these young people are saying at CPAC reflects the mood of America’s newest voters.

Ken Klukowski is a fellow and senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union. 

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