The famous CPAC meeting is in the news again. That is the big meeting of "grass root" conservative organizations in D.C. Now how influential the mass majority of CPAC participants is up to debate. After looking at the IRS statements of many conservative groups I often think a good many might just be scams. NOT ALL are but before you donate look that info up to see how your money is being spent.
However the perception is that CPAC is a big deal so in a sense they become a big deal.
Many groups and people who I am league in and respect have decided to boycott the CPAC meeting over the inclusion of GOPROUD. That is the up and coming gay, bisexual, etc etc Republican and Conservative group that seems to be on the path to replace the Log Cabin Republicans.
GOPROUD is conservative and perhaps libertarian at times with a bullet. Having a number of friends with deep seated same sex attractions I am not all shocked they are meeting a demand. Heck some of my gay friends have "conservative" views that even I don't take.
I also recognize the political ghetto gay friends of mine live in and for them that gets old. They in fact don't want others telling them that because they have same sex attraction they MUST think this way on assorted issues from a to z. I get that!!
The very good Gay Patriot has a post today relating to this. See Is MSM missing the real story in CPAC/GOProud kerfuffle?
Now in that piece Chris Barron (One of the Leaders of GOPROUD) is quoted and I think his statement is what has caused the alarm. The BOLDING is mine.
Now, though, gay rights issues are largely under the national political radar. And Christopher Barron, chairman of the board at GOProud, said that has worked in his favor. He said his group launched at an “unbelievably fortuitous” time in 2009, given that another movement was sprouting that was generally indifferent to social issues.“Our organization got started at the exact same time that the tea party movement was getting started,” Barron said. “It was a natural fit, because the party has been laser-focused on fiscal issues. There’s been no interest in going back to the well on the social issues.”
Social conservatives hearing that and needless to say are alarmed. Now to be honest I think Barron is wrong there or let me say simplistic. I am not in the Tea Party but I recognize that this creature is diverse and has factions. Further a lot of people in the Tea Party wear a good many different hats. In some areas the Tea Parties chapters have a huge social conservative color. It differs no doubt by region and other factors but it is there.
Regardless when social conservative hear this it sounds like the old refrain of if you social conservatives would be quiet no doubt it would be victory victory victory. I actually rather doubt that would happen.
Also I think it fails to recognize that one side is not declaring a true on social issues. In fact GOPROUD is not taking a truce at all. I am not saying they should not make a case for gay marriage or the repeal of DOMA. I am just saying in reality there is no truce at all.
Now the people that are boycotting this event range from people you have not heard much of to those you have. The biggest shock to me was the withdrawal of the Heritage Foundation. See Heritage changes CPAC explanation.
I suspect some pretty big influential social conservative called in a lot of favors for that to happen.
Now as I will explain below I am against this boycott for many reason. One is it makes no tactical sense to me.
However it appears that the boycott folks did have a tactical reason that is emerging. See the Washington Post article CPAC boycotters respond by Rubin. She interviews the head of the American Principles Project which I link and support by the way. The bolding is mine.
What if all the 2012 presidential candidates show up? He says his group has not reached out to the candidates to ask that they not attend. But, he concedes, "We'd be very happy to have them all boycott it." He nevertheless is realistic that it's not in the cards. So, he says the next best thing would to have them appear and "take this on." Why then doesn't his group show up and take on the GOProud issue? He seems to suggest his organization doesn't have much sway. He contends, "They [the candidates] have a forum we wouldn't have." Later in the interview he comes back to the strategy of boycotting, saying that had his group shown up and argued their case "the story wouldn't have made it out of the party. We would not have been able to draw attention to the issue."
The goal here is plainly to assert the relevance of social conservative issues. He vows that candidates will "take it on the chin" if they ignore social issues or favor a "truce." Is he referring to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels? Blom is dismissive. "We are not as confused as he is. He said he wanted a 'truce.' Then he had a stumbling explanation that he wasn't calling for a truce." Blom asserts, "The other side is not considering a truce." He argues that this phrase "sends a signal" that conservatives will give in on social issues. By doing this, he claims that candidates would be "dramatically weakening any chance they have." His group has now sent out a letter criticizing CPAC for including Daniels in the program, calling it an "affront to millions of conservatives." He even claims that "if marriage falls, the next attack will be on religious freedom." He doesn't explain how that would play out.
So there is a method to the madness it appears. In some ways I am very on their side . The constant putting down of social conservatives by some in the party and the conservative movement gets old. What people might be missing is that this boycott might be a reaction to this.
However I think this has all been a big mistake. Here is why.
(1) Social conservative have in the past worked with people that ID as gay on the pro-life issue. I am not sure why we are taking a different attitude now. Further and I think this is very important. These gay conservatives have taken a lot of grief for being in the same room with us over the years. I think that should be remembered. More on this below.
(2) It is a mistake to concede the battlefield. On twitter I see a lot of "straight" folks that are going to CPAC joke "I am going to CPAC and I am not catching the "Ghey" disease". Of course the reason the boycott is happening has nothing to do with the belief that people might become gay by hanging out with gay people. Yet by being absent this sort of things happen.
The fact that there are pro-gay marriage and Libertarians in the conservative movement and the GOP is a REALITY. There is no sense running away from that. You have to debate the ideas and make your case.
Here is the case I would make. I think Libertarians and other advocates of marriage equality in the conservative movement are deluded. To be more precise they are very naive.
I have no doubt that the gay Libertarians and conservatives in the party that wish for legal marriage equality are truly Libertarian and conservative . That is live and let live get the Government out of our lives etc etc. I have no reason to doubt that after watching them for a long period of time.
But this is the rub. It is my belief they can't deliver on that statement if gay marriage is approved and becomes the law of the land all will be well. I think this point needs to be made with great force at places like CPAC.
In other words will gay marriage being forth a world of liberation where people can associate with whom they want, rent to whom they want, educate their kids how they want, hire whom they want as we are all freed from the Big Daddy Government.
Will recognizing gay marriage as a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT bring forth a whole new regime of laws to enforce both formally and informally under sanction this new reality. In other words is what happened in the UK a couple of weeks ago more likely to be in our future. I think the legal history of the USA shows us the UK example is far more likely. That means someone anyone needs to be at places like CPAC to make that argument.
In other words lets get of out of the Think Tank alternative universe and talk reality.
We have already seen this. From important people calling the National Organization For Marriage a hate Group to a increasing under the radar campaign to keep traditional marriage advocates off the main stream media. Which brings me to my third point.
(3) I have no doubt of the sincerity of people in GOPROUD and their conservative somewhat libertarian ethos. It should be noted that they have come under assault for being in the same room with us at times. This assault by the gay democrats and the gay left can and in fact has been quite cruel over the years.
In the immigration debate I supported pathway to citizenship. I was very hurt and wounded by the words that were directed to me by people I thought were conservative allies. In fact I almost withdrew out of politics all together. Being called a traitor was no fun. What I went through is nothing like the conservatives with same sex attraction have gone through by other gay people in positions of power and influence. They get it in spades all the time.
Whatever you think of these groups they seem to stand for our right to exist and to speak. I am not sure quite frankly we want to burn our bridges with them. I am also not sure while people are saying we have no right to speak because it's hate it's productive to tell others they shall have no platform.
(4) I know very few social conservatives that "hate" people that are gay. There needs to be a discussion among social conservatives and people with varying degrees of same sex attraction about "just" and "unjust" discrimination in the law. There needs to be a discussion about when people are free to discriminate and when not. There needs to be a discussion that shows social conservatives will stand with them that unjust discrimination will not occur against them. If we don't have it among ourselves then others will have for us and then we lose even more.
(5) GOPROUD despite their talk of not returning to the well of social issues makes some good points about common alliances. The fact for instance that there is common cause it appears on such things as the de funding of public funding of Planned Parenthood is huge. This has not only domestic implication but would ripple and disrupt Planned Parenthood international operations. Operations that sadly appears to becoming more and more the official foreign policy of the United States.
I am not quite willing to abandon those alliances.
In the end I am not so sure if this is about GOPROUD attendance or that social conservatives are just tired of being told to shut up. If I had to pick one I would say the latter.
While I respect the people boycotting CPAC I very much disagree. There is no idea that is too dangerous to be debated as they say. If social conservative groups are not there to demand debate then well I thing we are putting our head in the noose.