Encouraging Conservative Dialogue

Diane Van Parys, President of Republican Women of SWFL Federated (RWSFF), shares Turning Point USA with the young Conservatives and discussed efforts underway at Ave Maria University and Barron Collier High School to start Chapters

By Connie Ross

As Republicans, we believe in retaining principles of the past worth retaining, while always being receptive to new ideas with an outlook broad enough to accommodate thoughtful change and varying points of view. Throughout history, some of the best and brightest ideas were formed through scholarly socials.

During George Washington’s two terms as president, Martha Washington established a weekly salon that was open to anyone who wished to attend. Her salons were social gatherings with a focus on scholarly discussion. They became well known for the diverse nature of the attendees. “Martha Washington’s Salons were often referred to as the Republican Court, where many high-profile dignitaries attended to discuss prevalent issues and topics including social, political, scientific, economic, and literary innovations. The Salon acted as a market place of ideas and was symbolic of the need to galvanize discussion of educated thoughts that encouraged the use of knowledge and logic along with differing opinions.” – Christy McLaughlin

Inspired by Martha’s model, on April 13, 2019, Christy Marie McLaughlin hosted an evening of Wit, Wisdom and Whimsy titled “Martha Washington Salon”. Christy said, “The objective of Martha Washington Salon was youth outreach to Republicans to stimulate education and research.  I invited several respected individuals who represent a variety of Republican clubs to create a point of contact for the young conservatives in attendance.  The goal is to promote education/research, professional development, and stewardship.”

Professor Daniella Palmiotto discusses social topics with Ave Maria Law School students and Conservative Republicans in Naples

Republicans representing various committees and ages attended to support the launch of this newest addition to the Collier County Republican scene. Christy’s “Salon” was decorated patriotically and included a Betsy Ross flag. While not so much in the flesh, James Madison and John Adams showed up for photo ops. Martha Washington’s secret recipe cocktail, that certainly must have been the secret behind George’s never telling a lie, was served, and wondering guests were able to consult with a Mount Vernon Fortune Teller.

Approximately forty attendees drew from mason jars filled with probing questions used to lead conversation in small-group speed-round-robin discussions. Topics included Florida’s impact on WWII (host-Lois Bolin) Law, Ethics, and Morality (host- Ave Maria’s Professor of Commercial Law and Business, Daniella Palmiotto) Julian Assange, and the current college admissions scandal. I’ve concluded I desperately need to binge-watch 8 seasons of Game of Thrones after I found myself completely out of the loop in perhaps the most fervent discussion of the evening… BTW, what does that White Walker spiral mean?

Participants were enthusiastic about the launch of an open dialogue forum where people engaged in an authentic exchange of ideas about diverse issues. Taylor Mathews said, “As a second-year law student, the Martha Washington Salon was a wonderful opportunity to share good food and hearty discussion outside of the classroom. With several students and members of the community in attendance, it made for a truly great event.” Alyssa Porta “believes the Martha Washington Salon was a well put together event. Christy brought people of all ages and backgrounds together for a night of great discussion. It was awesome having this opportunity for people my age to connect over the fact we all love America and being Conservatives!”

Another event is expected to take place in the fall, and Rosemary McAvoy is looking forward to supporting Christy as she expands her concept. “I was inspired by Christy McLaughlin, a young woman with a great vision to encourage open dialogue that resurrects one of the original ways democracy emerged among our founding mothers and fathers. In this divisive world, we desperately need forums where we can candidly and civilly discuss perspectives.”

Diane Van Parys commended Christy for organizing and hosting the 1st “Martha Washington Salon” in Naples.  “Christy wanted to bring together Conservatives of all ages for Conversation and Sharing of Experiences in the Conservative movement.  The Professors from Ave Maria Law School added so much to the conversation about the issues of today.”

I am proud to support Christy and the revival of Martha Washington Salon. In an age of political discourse, it is refreshing to know that we can contribute to mending our democracy by following the original salon model established by our nation’s first lady.

Christy Marie McLaughlin

About the Organizer

Christy Marie McLaughlin is a second-year student at Ave Maria School of Law and dedicated Conservative Republican. Since 2016 Christy has been actively involved in the Republican Party across Southwest Florida. Christy worked for the Republican Party of Florida during the 2018 election cycle.

She is currently on the Republican Executive Committee of Collier County, serving as a youth outreach member, and is the Young Republicans of Southwest Florida Collier County Chair. Christy recently established the Republican National Lawyer’s Association Chapter at Ave Maria School of Law and was President for the 2018-2019 academic years. This year she founded the scholarly-based social group “Martha Washington Salon.”


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