Conservative Conversations with Steve “Dee” Dogiakos

Steve "Dee" Dogiakos

Steve Dee at CPAC

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of traveling to the Washington, DC-area for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Despite a rocky start to the trip (last minute flight cancellations), I had an invigorating and enlightening experience with Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (CCADP).

The Conservative Political Action Conference is an annual political conference attended by conservative activists and elected officials from across the United States. CPAC attracts speakers and authors, including Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Governors Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry, and panels that included Grover Norquist of the anti-tax pledge fame.

I was honored to be shoulder to shoulder with fellow Montana CCADP founder and former State Senator Roy Brown and the founder of the National CCADP movement, Heather Beaudoin, as well as conservatives from Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. Together, we made up a delegation ready to represent the growing number of conservatives around the country who question the alignment of capital punishment with our conservative principles and values.

I was surprised and delighted by the number of people who approached our booth and immediately showed their support and gratitude for speaking up for our concerns with the death penalty. Those who weren’t immediately with us spent a couple of minutes talking through fiscal, safety and moral arguments related to the issue. Many began to change their de facto “hard on crime, hard on criminals” thought process and looked at the death penalty through a skeptical, small government lens. Happily, there were only a handful of hard-lined nay-sayers. (There will always be those who refuse to have an engaging conversation and just want to do a “drive by rant.”)

CCADP and I, personally, were lucky to receive a significant amount of media attention for our presence at CPAC. ReasonTV did an in-depth piece on the size of the criminal justice reform movement at the Conference. We were also featured on numerous regional radio talk shows, on SiriusXM, and I even got “Internet Famous” via Buzzfeed.