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In the ‘60s and early ‘70s, most conservatives would probably have described themselves as pro-choice. There were heated arguments at early CPACs as abortion was debated and as attitudes began to change.

Eventually, a consensus was reached, and while there are still pro-choice conservatives within the movement, it would be fair to say that today most conservatives are pro-life.

A few years ago, the very idea of debating drug policy upset many attendees, though conservative leaders such as William F. Buckley Jr. disagreed with the day’s consensus.

There is no consensus today, but conservatives at CPAC and within the movement no longer shy away from the debate. The same can be said for issues such as criminal justice reform and what conservatives should demand of those who seek their votes.

Outsiders see these arguments as evidence of potential weakness. Conservatives see them as a reflection of the strength of a movement that comes together on essential values and in opposition to those who threaten those values without themselves becoming either hidebound or intolerant.

They neither think nor march in lockstep. They may differ on strategy and tactics, but all of them share a vision of a society that Ronald Reagan liked to describe as a “shining city upon a hill,” and all of them are striving to make it a reality.

David A. Keene is opinion editor of The Washington Times and a past chairman of the American Conservative Union.