A considerable number of conservative organizations – Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, American Principles Project, American Values, Capital Research Center, Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, National Organization for Marriage, and Media Research Center – are planning on boycotting CPAC 2011 over the participation of gay Republican lobbying group GOProud.
To me, the question of whether or not CPAC should be boycotted over this is kind of pointless – as Ed Morrissey says, CPAC is an awfully diverse bunch, even without ’em:
The conference includes social conservatives, Ron Paul groupies, isolationists, interventionists (the dreaded neo-cons), libertarians, religious organizations (including Muslims), atheists, several flavors of fiscal conservatism, and even the John Birch Society.
Unlike Morrissey, I don’t think the presence of Paulites, isolationists and Birchers at CPAC is necessarily something to celebrate. Where do we draw the line? When have we brought in so many dilutions and mutations of conservatism that it ceases to be conservatism?
GOProud’s defenders are also deluding themselves if they think all GOProud’s interested in is ensuring that gay Americans feel welcome in the movement (a questionable mission in any case – when did the NRA, Club for Growth, or National Right to Life Committee start checking for sexual orientation at the door?). After all, these are the same guys who demanded that the new Congress abandon social issues by dishonestly claiming to speak for the entire Tea Party movement, all the while denigrating their so-called conservative “allies” as “special interests.”
At this point, GOProud’s trustworthiness is in doubt. Their true intention seems to be to drive the Right socially leftward. Here’s another simple test that would reveal a great deal about their real values and priorities. GOProud is in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. So they should answer this question: do you believe Congress gave sufficient consideration to the judgment of American servicemen and military leaders prior to repeal? Spoiler alert: the correct answer is no.
(Oh, and to the Frum-types who couch their apologetics for groups like GOProud with pragmatic arguments about the “politics of addition” and such, just ask yourself: which organizations do you think represent more conservatives? Which organizations’ and their constituencies’ alienation do you think will have the more detrimental effect on the movement?)
On the other hand, Morrissey points out a not-insignificant distinction: while GOProud is attending, they aren’t an invited sponsor, meaning CPAC isn’t endorsing their platform, and neither are groups who participate in CPAC. And as he says, CPAC presents “the best possible forum for engagement and debate of the competing agendas of these groups.” If CPAC is going to indulge such wildly varying groups and ideologies, hopefully they’ve planned a series of candid, spirited debates and roundtables about these disputes. Ignoring unconservative views and agendas on the right weakens conservatism, but debating them can only strengthen it.