Vice-Chairman of the Republican National Committee’s Platform Committee J. Kenneth Blackwell called young Republicans to action at the Harvard Republican Club’s seventh annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday.
The formal celebration of Lincoln’s legacy and Republican ideals was held in Eliot Dining Hall, where white tablecloths littered with pennies and a hand-drawn elephant greeted the 150 students in attendance—a record, according to HRC President Colin J. Motley ’10.
Past speakers at the event have included conservative activist Star Parker and Michael S. Steele, who has since been elected chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The evening began with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by HRC Secretary Rachel L. Wagley ’11.
In his speech, Blackwell repeatedly emphasized the importance of returning to Republican values and not losing hope despite President Barack H. Obama’s victory and his enduring popularity.
“As a Republican party, the issue is how do we respond to the political valley that we now find ourselves in,” Blackwell said. “If we respond by trying to blend in, we lose.”
Blackwell targeted Republicans who had “campaigned like Ronald Reagan and governed like Jimmy Carter,” as the primary reason for the loss of confidence in the political right. He encouraged a return to an ideology of faith, free-market Capitalism, and individual liberty.
Blackwell framed his speech in the context of a growing threat to the American way of life. He called the Democratic Party’s current initiatives an “attempt to pull off the most significant realignment of political power in our 232 year history.”
Nevertheless, his tone remained inspirational and surprisingly upbeat. He concluded by encouraging those in attendance to “bring light and truth and freedom to this American discussion.”
Motley said he was extremely pleased by the turnout for the event. The record number of attendees included representatives from the Harvard Kennedy School as well as the Harvard Business and Law Schools, Boston College, Wellesley, Tufts, and Brandeis, according to Motley.
“It’s great to have the opportunity for Republicans from all these different places to get together,” Motley said.
Blackwell also said he enjoyed speaking at the event and encouraging young Republicans not to lose hope.
“The Republican party leadership has to talk about winning elections and rebuilding the base, which you do with an inspirational message,” he said.
—Crimson Staff Writer Evan T.R. Rosenman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.