Conservative conference shaping up as family values feud
THE event each year in DC for political activists on the right is the C-PAC (C for Conservative) conference. Thousands of activists attend, as do conservative celebrities and the entire stable of Republican presidential hopefuls, for whom it is essentially an audition. The next one is scheduled for February 10-12. but this year the biggest excitement is happening right now. Conference organizers are allowing GOProud to participate, and some social issues (ie anti-gay and anti-abortion) groups are boycotting the event and blasting the American Conservative Union, the conference organizer. ACU's statement of principles stresses free market and limited government arguments, as does GOProud's statement of its beliefs.
This may just be the right's version of silly fringe politics, but it is also possible that we may look back on this in a few years and see it as watershed marking the beginning of the end of the coalition of economic and social conservatives in the Republican Party. The Washington Times says that the dispute about GOProud's participation is a sign that "the alliance may now be fraying." More from the newspaper of right-wing record:
Conservative online media mogul Andrew Breitbart is supporting GOProud's foray into CPAC. "Oh, by the way. Gonna have a party welcoming Gay conservatives to CPAC. Deal with it," he said on his Twitter account last week.
Groups such as Citizen Link, the political-action arm of Focus on the Family, plan to attend this year's CPAC, but say the conference is on a short leash. "It's obvious the influence of social conservatives has been missing and there needs to be more of it," said Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Citizen Link. "If the ACU can't manage this problem that they've brought upon themselves, we'll have to make another decision."...
Andy Blom, executive director of the American Principles Project, called the move to marginalize values voters self-defeating. "The rather arrogant treatment of social conservatives by libertarians is troubling," said Mr. Blom. "Social conservatives are the foot soldiers of the movement. Marriage has never lost an election. Being pro-life does not lose elections. It wins elections. This is not only a serious principle mistake, it's a serious political mistake."...
Breitbart is a web publisher whose comments quoted above seem in line with his rightwing bad boy, Drudge wannabe persona. His website published the heavily edited Shirley Sherrod video that created a scandal and initially led to her firing, until the NAACP released the video in full, making it clear that Breitbart had manipulated the facts way beyond even "truthiness."
Besides Focus on the Family and American Principles Project, other groups either boycotting C-PAC or threatening to next year if there isn't a policy change include the Heritage Foundation, Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Center for Military Readiness, the Liberty Counsel and the National Organization for Marriage.
Well, you live by the wedge, you die by the wedge. How fitting that gay issues may start to cut in the opposite direction. The right-wing has brilliantly used anti-gay and anti-abortion politics to peel off voters from the Democrats, but now the worm turns. To the I've-got-mine economic libertarian crowd, individual freedom is gospel, and pretty much any form of choice is the holy grail. The appeal to them of allying with vaguely amusing bumpkins from uncool places is that the traditionalist rhetoric could haul in tons of votes, if not dollars. If that calculation changes, which perhaps it is beginning to, the so-called social issues crowd will be looking for a new home.