Most of you are now up to speed on all the nonsense at what could have been a focused effort to promote conservative activism at Western CPAC. If you aren’t, I would encourage everyone to take a trip through the posts written by the people who helped make the weekend worthwhile for me. Ed Morrissey, Melissa Clouthier, Jim Hoft (Gateway Pundit), Ed Driscoll, John Schulenberg (Infidels Are Cool), as well as John Sexton and Morgen Richmond (Verum Serum) have excellent wrap-ups of the various outbursts of dementia and other highlights. Caleb Heimlich, Elizabeth Crum, Jon Fleischman and Rachel Alexander rounded out the under 90 crowd that spent most of the weekend dodging the expanding prostates that tend to dominate old-school conservative gatherings.
It is this group of people and others like them who make me stick around and fight the fight. Honestly, if I thought that conservatism had to remain in the hands of the guy I wrote about earlier and/or some of the zombie extras from an old George Romero movie I saw wandering around WCPAC, I’d have moved to Costa Rica this afternoon.
The single most energizing thing about the election of Barack Obama is that it’s made online conservative activists redouble our efforts to find new ways to get the job done. Blogging stalwarts have kept the pressure on while people like me have gone nuts on Twitter and Facebook. I won’t for a moment pretend that I did any of this by design, it’s all been a happy accident on my part but the gift horse’s mouth is wide open and I ain’t taking a peek.
The confusion on the right stems from the fact that conservative principles are enduring. This leads to a misbegotten belief among some that everything else about conservatism is supposed remain unchanging. In fact, everything but the principles should be in flux, especially in the modern political era.
So we now have friction between the “Well, we’ve always done it this way!” crowd and those of us who moved into the 21st Century as soon as it was available for occupancy. It would be nice to have everyone come along for the ride but some people just can’t seem to leave 1984.
As I said yesterday: fine, we don’t need them.
The exchange of information and ideas between the new media people this past weekend was invigorating and inspiring. We talked about local politics, national politics, entertainment (Andrew Breitbart had a great line about conservatives ponying up the money to make movies they like rather than whining all the time) and a variety of other subjects. We were always in a good mood, hopeful and solutions-oriented. That’s why we get so irritated with the birther/impeachment crowd that some would have everyone believe constitutes a significant part of the base.
Here’s the reality kids: the base is traditionally the part of a political movement that mobilizes and gives it the extra juice it needs to get through close elections with some success. The drooling checkbook hordes who keep hoping for some kind of magic birth certificate fairy to show up in lieu of cultivating articulate candidates who can speak about real conservative issues are stinking up the place and they need to go.
We are the Base. Resistance is futile.
Be sure to follow the links in the above passage for much more on the conference.
Back in March, I labored for more than a few hours shooting and editing a video introduction to Twitter:
“It’s typing, people, OK?”
Hopefully the audience who attended that panel will leave Western CPAC with an understanding of how easy it is to get started with citizen journalism on some form, whether it’s blogging of Tweeting, and if they stick with it and get their chops together, where it can take them. It’s a far cry from as recently as 1996, as this passage from David Gelernter that I read during my appearance on the new media panel on Saturday highlights:
Today’s elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the ‘96 Dole presidential campaign: ‘The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say ‘yeah, i’m the Media. Screw You.’ The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd– an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.
Within a couple of years of that event, the Drudge Report would launch, followed by the Blogosphere, Twitter, YouTube, and the like. Old media still hates the general public, but for very different reasons than the decades in which they took them for granted.
As far as some of the zanier stuff that went on at Western CPAC, I’m of two minds. As someone who identifies as fitting in somewhere on the center-righthand side of the aisle, it’s frustrating to observe. As a journalist/blogger/new media guy looking for stories, it’s wonderful to observe:
And it also serves a purpose, as well. In 2007, Jeff Jacoby explored “The Fights on the Right” in the Boston Globe:
On one important issue after another, the right churns with serious disputes over policy and principle, while the left marches mostly in lockstep. Liberals sometimes disagree over tactics and details, but anyone taking a heterodox position on a major issue can find himself out in the cold. Just ask Senator Joseph Lieberman.
In the liberal imagination, conservatives are blind dogmatists, spouters of a party line fed to them by (take your pick) big business, their church, or President Bush. Yet almost anywhere you look on the right these days, what stands out is the lack of ideological conformity.
In numerous articles and posts at National Review, Jonah Goldberg has stressed the importance of fighting out ideas on the right — and in that regard, the folks who attended Western CPAC may have gotten more than they bargained for.
It may have been messy — at times even a little ugly — but it was rarely boring. Nobody faxed it in this past weekend.
Update: At Mediate, Tommy Christopher asks, “Which Bloggers are Trashing Conservative WCPAC Conference?”
Update: John Fleischman, who chaired our New Media panel, has a lengthy “Review of the Event”, rounding up a variety of posts on Western CPAC, along with photos, at his Flash Report Website.