CPAC 2013 is over, and it was amazing. The change in venue – from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in D.C. to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland – allowed all CPAC attendees to breathe. So, the National Harbor in Maryland –which is just a little ways down the river from D.C – was a good move. The Marriott was just big enough for the conference, and that became more evident during last year’s CPAC. I felt like a canned ham navigating through the event. However, in terms of logistics, perhaps they can place radio row – which was right outside the main Potomac Ballroom – near the exhibit hall to avoid the gridlock that occurred after every main speaker. But now for the main change.
First, end the sponsorship ban on GOProud. If conservatives want to avoid looking like we’re anti-gay, then allow this organization, which has a Tea Party-esque platform, to sponsor. The Atlantic, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and Slate’s Dave Weigel all have stories mentioning GOProud, their exclusion, or the fact that conservatives “were giving voters away by dismissing gay voters,” according to media/political consultant Liz Mair. Yes, liberal blogs and news media were going to be disparaging about CPAC, but you don’t offer them easy bad press to write about, especially on an issue that animates the youth. After all, engaging the next generation of conservatives was the theme for this year’s conference. In all, the GOProud/ACU feud needs to stop. Heck, even Tony Soprano was able to agree to a ceasefire when his organization found itself in a war with the Lupertazzi crime family at the end of the series.
Second, CPAC 2014 needs to have a panel on health care. Forbes’ Avik Roy noticed this omission in the program last month. Obamacare is the single biggest threat to American economic liberty and stability, and the ACU decided to have no panel about it. Medicare and Medicaid have unfunded liabilities that soar into the trillions of dollars, and CPAC didn’t talk about it this year. In a discussion with a conservative activist at one of the many post-conference gatherings, she said Dean Clancy, Ben Domenech, and Avik Roy would’ve been a great panel to discuss the insolvency of our health care system.
Third, move the panel about the state of digital and social media into the main ballroom. Folks leading the effort, like the Franklin Center’s Erik Telford, deserve to have a wider forum to discuss this pressing issue, and how we can make up for the deficit we have in this field. So far, the left is way ahead of conservatives in terms of digital strategy and microtargeting.
Lastly, don’t invite Donald Trump. He’s not a serious force in the conservative movement, and his invitation to speak this year was just an embarrassment.