AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
The Association of Mature American Citizens, in conjunction with the American Constitutional Rights Union (ACRU), held a “Saving the Nation Bootcamp for Boomers” in The Villages, Florida, on January 20. With nearly 300 guests in attendance and an exciting lineup of speakers, including retired Lt. Colonel and former Congressman Allen West and former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines, the event was an energetic kick-off to this election year. The program highlighted numerous ways AMAC members and seniors can get more involved in the political arena and engage on important cultural issues.
The event began with opening remarks from AMAC CEO Rebecca Weber and ACRU Chair and CEO Lori Roman, who both stressed the importance of the Baby Boomer generation and other older Americans staying active in their communities and holding elected officials accountable.
“I believe that we are in a fight of good versus evil,” Weber said. “We see the legal battles aimed at disqualifying Donald J. Trump. We battle the deep state – and their desperate goal to fundamentally change America. And we battle the legacy media – whose biased news media targets conservatives as extremists.”
“So instead of buying into these falsehoods of the left, AMAC members and the ACRU wear our values like a badge of honor,” Weber continued. “The world is depending on America. And America is each one of you.”
The first session of the day was a Q&A between Roman and Florida Congressman Byron Donalds and his wife, Erika Donalds, a leading advocate for school choice. The couple outlined some of the major issues facing the country, including partisan gridlock in Washington and a slate of extremist policies from the Biden administration.
Congressman Donalds pointed specifically to an unwillingness by members of Congress to even talk to one another as a major reason for the dysfunction in the nation’s capital. He also emphasized that the one of the biggest challenges Republicans have to overcome is infighting within the party that is preventing the GOP from being fully united against the radicalism of the Democrat Party.
Erika Donalds spoke at length about the importance of continuing to push for greater education freedom, even in states such as Florida that have adopted expansive school choice programs. She highlighted several ongoing efforts at the state level to create charter schools and stressed that school choice should be a top priority for the next Republican president.
The next session was a “social media bootcamp” with the Leadership Institute’s Angela Faulkner, a political communications expert with experience on multiple presidential campaigns. Faulkner delivered an interactive seminar that provided audience members with the basics of developing a social media “brand,” such as how to set up an account and build engagement.
The first panel of the day, moderated by Weber, focused on election integrity and securing the vote of vulnerable voters and featured AMAC Action Senior Vice President Andy Mangione, Honest Elections Project Executive Director Jason Snead, and ACRU CEO Lori Roman.
Mangione spoke in detail about the important role AMAC members have played in opposing changes to voting laws at the state level that would compromise election integrity – specifically ramping up pressure on lawmakers to reject ranked-choice voting schemes backed by left-wing special interests.
As Mangione explained, AMAC members have flooded the inboxes of state representatives in places like Wisconsin, where Mangione also testified against a ranked choice voting proposal to kill legislation that would undermine the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote.”
Snead added more context to the importance of opposing ranked-choice voting, explaining how it offers built-in advantages for Democrats – and hence why left-wing dark money groups such as Arabella Advisors are pouring tens of millions of dollars into efforts to pass ranked choice voting initiatives in purple and red states. “It’s no coincidence that Alaska elected a Democrat statewide for the first time in 50 years right after they adopted ranked-choice voting,” Snead said.
Roman, meanwhile, highlighted an alarming rise in reported cases of voting fraud at nursing homes and elder care facilities. “In some counties in 2020, the voter participation rate of non-verbal, non-responsive nursing home patients was 100 percent,” she said, explaining how bad actors will infiltrate nursing homes and fill out residents’ ballots for them under the guise of “helping” them.
Sometimes, Roman explained, this voter fraud is even committed by nursing home staff. She also provided audience members with warning signs to watch for and some strategies to ensure that the votes of elderly family members and friends are not being stolen.
The next discussion – one that drew many audible gasps from the audience – featured mother and parental rights activist January Littlejohn. In a Q&A with Weber, Littlejohn explained how her 13-year-old daughter had been “socially transitioned” at school without her knowledge. When Littlejohn discovered that her daughter was being secretly treated as if she were a boy at school (including being allowed to use the boy’s restroom) she immediately demanded answers from school officials – only to be told that she had no legal right to this information about her child.
Upon further inquiry, Littlejohn forced the release of a “transgender student support plan” that showed multiple school officials conspired to keep her daughter’s “transition plan” secret from her.
Littlejohn urged audience members to pay close attention to their children’s schools and not become complacent just because they may live in a red state. (Littlejohn herself lives in Florida, which had ostensibly banned such practices.) She also provided listeners with resources to help protect children from gender ideology and legal recourse for parents whose kids have been “transitioned” without their knowledge.
For the second panel of the day, moderated by former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, Roman and Mangione joined Majority Strategies Senior National Strategist Chris Faulkner for a discussion on “how to drive change in your community.” All three panelists stressed the importance of focusing on local elections rather than just national contests, explaining that the most tyrannical policies often come from local county commissioners and city governments simply because voters aren’t paying as much attention.
In undoubtedly the most rousing segment of the day, former U.S. Army Lt. Colonel and U.S. Representative Allen West next delivered a keynote address that drew multiple rounds of raucous applause from the audience. West implored members of the Boomer generation to “remember that you are the children of the Greatest Generation, the men who climbed Mt. Suribachi and stormed the beaches at Normandy.”
West also urged listeners to have courage in the face of a culture that seeks to intimidate conservatives into silence, citing Joshua 1:9 as a rallying cry: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Then, in a moment that drew attendees to their feet in a standing ovation, Weber made the surprise announcement that West would be receiving the AMAC Patriot Award. In a moving story, Weber recalled how Congressman West was one of the first elected officials to offer his support to late AMAC founder Dan Weber shortly after he founded the organization, and has continued to be a staunch ally of AMAC in the years since.
For the event finale, former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines accepted AMAC’s 2023 Woman of the Year Award.
As AMAC Newsline’s Aaron Flanigan wrote in a feature piece for the latest edition of AMAC Magazine, Gaines famously tied transgender swimmer Lia Thomas at the 2022 NCAA women’s swimming national championship, after which Gaines was snubbed of a trophy and the chance to appear on the podium. Gaines has since become a leading voice opposing males competing in women’s sports – a courageous stance that has subjected her to vicious threats and even physical assault, along with a relentless media smear campaign.
Despite all of that, however, Gaines remained positive and upbeat in her acceptance remarks, citing her strong Christian faith as a source of strength. Her speech reflected the wit and humor combined with a strong sense of justice that has made Gaines such a powerful voice opposing the transgender movement. The room was thoroughly captivated by her story, with many pulling out their phones to film it.
Gaines finished up by urging audience members to speak out against transgender ideology and defend the truth wherever it comes under attack, drawing the most extensive round of applause of the day.
Following the conclusion of the Bootcamp, several audience members remarked to me how inspired and energized they were, and in particular how they now felt equipped with concrete ways to go out and have an impact in their communities. The entire event will be the subject of a forthcoming two-hour special on Real America’s Voice.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on X @ShaneHarris513.