The PJ Tatler

CPAC: We're Doing It Wrong

The calendar turns toward another Conservative Political Action Committee meeting, but I won’t be there.

It’s not spite or any disagreement within the movement that’s keeping me away. The PJ empire is launching Next Generation TV and that effort is rightly taking the lion’s share of our resources. Like any organization investing dollars in getting people and stuff from one place to another, we have to make choices, and the choices we’ve made make sense. If you’re at CPAC this year you’ll see Allen West, Michelle Fields and many of our other folks, just not me. I’m sure you’ll get over it.


To tell you the truth, I was not really looking forward to going anyway. I’m not verklempt about the dust-up over GOProud. CPAC owns its brand and can do what it wants. A robust movement welcomes different points of view, though, so I don’t stand with S. E. Cupp for boycotting CPAC, nor do I stand with CPAC itself on this. If it were up to me, GOProud would be allowed to sponsor, but it isn’t up to me, and I’m not going to grandstand or trollface over it or any of the other issues I have with CPAC management. I think we’re all doing it wrong, and by handing leftist Chris Hayes the control in this particular fight, we’re really doing it wrong.

We’re also doing a whole lot else wrong. Conservatives go to CPAC, hear some good speeches, see some of our celebrities, network among ourselves, get energized, mix and mingle, and that’s all fine. I’ve been a part of all of that myself. The liberal media come in, treats us as an anthropological study of icky subjects that should be quarantined, and we end up with a fun week inside and bad optics outside. Leftist troublemakers sneak in and do their best to present us at our worst. So there’s all that. For me, though, I just wonder if our annual meeting among ourselves, so many of us in one place reporting on the same speeches and the same parties, is really where so many of us ought to be.

We have CPAC, we have the various Americans for Prosperity events, the RedState Gatherings, on and on and on. They’re all essentially the same event, with differences in nuance, repeated at various venues and scales. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all fine. I’ve attended all of them and spoken at a couple. My old blog was among the catalysts that got bloggers credentialed at CPAC in the first place. I’ve been on the attendee side and on the sponsor side and the side that puts on the show. But the thing is, while we’re all spending time and treasure to attend these events, where are we not, and what are we not covering, and who are we not talking to and hearing from?


A widespread belief bordering on panic set in among the right after Barack Obama’s re-election: We’ve lost the culture. I think that’s right, we have. We need to win it back if we’re to have any hope of having enough political strength to win the presidency again. But it’s a long way from recognizing the problem to actually fixing it. We’ve barely recognized it. We’re nowhere near really addressing it. Another gathering of conservative pundits, speakers and bloggers does zero to get us there.

When we’re at these essentially inward-looking events, we’re not at cultural events like SXSW. We’re not at gun shows. We’re not at Hispanic heritage and Asian heritage and black heritage events. We’re not at Sundance. We’re not at Comic-Con. We’re not at the Grammys. We’re not at SIGGRAPH and we’re barely at NAB. We’re so not at the Oscars that it’s not even funny.

And this is a problem.

If we’re going to win back the culture or any part of it, don’t we need to be in the culture? Don’t we need to be offering our point of view where people who are not politically inclined have some chance of seeing it? Don’t we need to be out working the fields for harvest, and not spending all of our time in the warehouse that’s already full? Shouldn’t we turn around from preaching to the choir once in a while, and go outside to see if there’s anyone who may want to come in and see what we’re all about? If we have a story to tell, shouldn’t we try finding someone to tell it to, who hasn’t already heard it?


My point is, we need to think bigger. And smarter. We need to be crafty as a fox rather than offering ourselves up to the medialeft for slaughter like lambs. We need to stop doing it wrong and start doing it right.


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