I am a social conservative, I am firmly against SSM, I have spoken of my disagreements with GOProud, its founders, and its focus before, and those disagreements still exist today. Yet, as I stated in my title, I am not outraged by GOProud’s CPAC attendance. In fact, I will go so far as to say that I wouldn’t even mind if they were allowed to be sponsors.
Now, before I start getting adoring tweets from Jimmy LaSalvia and Chris Baron, along with praise from the media for my moderate view on the annual airing of grievances surrounding GOProud’s inclusion at CPAC, let me explain.
I am in this for the cause. I am part of a movement. I seek to maximize the freedom of the individual, but not alleviate the responsibility of a citizen. My allegiance isn’t to a party, but to a set of ideals which have guided this experiment in self governance that we call the United States of America.
Because of who I am, I choose to spend my time and money attending events with the purpose of advancing my cause. The truth of the matter is that CPAC is no longer an event that advances movement conservatism.
Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly things about CPAC that are very good. If you want to network with a bunch of people in D.C., it certainly avails you of the opportunity. If you want to attend some interesting panel discussions, that’s an option too. And radio row is definitely something a young activist might get a kick out of.
But in all of that, more than anything else, you will see an establishment brand of conservatism that has grown very comfortable and far too risk averse. CPAC doesn’t serve the movement conservative so much as it represents the broader GOP brand.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for CPAC. After all, the larger the tent and the more establishment backing, the higher the attendance. But, it is a far cry from where CPAC started.
As an example, here is an excerpt from the closing of Ronald Reagan’s speech given at CPAC in 1977:
Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. Any organization is in actuality only the lengthened shadow of its members. A political party is a mechanical structure created to further a cause. The cause, not the mechanism, brings and holds the members together. And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America’s spiritual heritage to our national affairs.
Then with God’s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us.
The speech was dubbed Reagan’s New Republican Party speech. In it Reagan laid out the principles that would lead our party to victory just a few years later. He spoke of social and economic conservatism, and how the fusion of these two flavors of conservatism were the inherent philosophy of a majority of the United States.
And Reagan did so as an insurgent. A conservative outsider who sought to shake loose the establishment stranglehold on the Republican Party. For a long time CPAC represented the cause and was independent and flourished. Unfortunately, we are now at a point where CPAC represents the mechanism more than the cause.
And this, more than anything, is why any relationship between GOProud and CPAC means so little to me. Why should I care about a spat between two different groups that don’t even appeal to my motivations in politics?
While the loss of CPAC as a means of movement conservatism is a shame, it was probably inevitable. All political institutions, given enough time, amass enough power to become comfortable, and once comfortable cease being valuable.
The fortunate byproduct of this, of course, is the market demand for something that is actually useful to movement conservatives increases and we end up with events like the RedState Gathering, which will be on held on August 8-10, 2014 in the great State of Texas at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth. [Yes, I know that was a shameless plug, but RedState is still in the amass power phase of its existence. I figure we have about 25 years before we get comfortable and some young warriors write this same post about us.]
So go ahead CPAC, expand the tent, have GOProud as a sponsor, may your union flourish! Heck … just go all in and have Mitch McConnell be the keynote speaker. I honestly don’t care.