Conservative conference attendees bask in recent success

PITTSBURGH – Scott and Anna Allegrini founded The Children of Liberty shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama. It was a small group that would meet at the local library in Sylvania, Ohio, bringing in guest lecturers to talk about economics and the words of America’s founders. What they learned made them ever more concerned about the state of America.

Audience members at a Twitter and Facebook panel at the RightOnline conference in Pittsburgh (David Weigel)
Audience members at a Twitter and Facebook panel at the RightOnline conference in Pittsburgh (David Weigel)

“When you read what the founding fathers said, you see a lot of parallels,” said Scott Allegrini, unwrapping a sandwich on the second and final day of Americans for Prosperity’s RightOnline conference. “It’s almost like we have another ruling class, another royal family.”

A lot has changed since then. Rick Santelli “made his rant,” as the Allegrinis put it, and the anti-tax “Tea Parties” began. Glenn Beck brushed away his tears and launched the 9-12 Movement, which the Allegrinis happily joined. The Children of Liberty grew from a few dozen members to more than 300. Then, this month, the Allegrinis watched in amazement as their friends, and people who looked like their friends, were labeled a “mob” and accused of being organized by corporate money and groups like, well, Americans for Prosperity. On September 12, they–like many other attendees of the week’s conference–will participate in a march on Washington, sponsored by FreedomWorks.

“It’s been surreal,” said Anna Allegrini.

“If the pharmaceuticals want to give me a check, I won’t complain,” said Scott Allegrini. “But they sure don’t. Look, we started this because we were worried about our country. I think the left is projecting.”

The Allegrinis were typical of the more than 600 conservatives at the second annual RightOnline Americans for Prosperity weekend conference, part training seminar and part pep rally. It was the largest in a series of AFP events bringing activists together and supplying them with talking points and tools. Attendees could register for as little as $59; even the early registration for Netroots Nation cost $225. Netroots Nation bloggers spent plenty of time worrying about the pace of the Democratic agenda, while RightOnline attendees could take a victory lap after a month dominated by coverage of like-minded activists getting in the faces of people like Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), warning them that a vote for a “socialist” health care bill would cost them their jobs.

“Just when you think, boy, I can’t go another step, you see that there’s a network of people who are doing the same thing,” said Anna Allegrini. “It’s energizing.”

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