Here’s one example — a panel talk on how to organize masses online to “disrupt” the “gun lobby.” The “gun lobby” is effective because it consistently defends a basic civil right. It consistently keeps freedom where it belongs — in the hands of citizens, not government. It doesn’t need disrupting. What needs disrupting is the unchecked growth of Washington’s power over our daily lives. But you’d probably have a hard time getting that message across in Austin on a normal day, much less during the biggest so-called tech-libertarian meeting of the year.
If conservatives and libertarians really want to make some inroads with the young and earnest culture leaders and visionaries out there, we could do a lot worse than making ourselves more visible at SXSW. The contradictions between the freedom-loving libertarian vibe of the start-up and the heavy hand of centralized, ever-growing government are there to be exposed. Popping out another speech to another crowd of conservatives in Washington — and having that speech masticated out of all recognition by the mainstream media — is just not going to do the job.
I did bump into Reason’s here group earlier today, and have to credit them for some of the observations about the kudzu-like growth of SXSW’s corporate side. Now we need to start seeing more of the center-right-libertarian set here, visibly, making inroads.