On the Eve of CPAC...

…is it time to boycott CPAC?

That’s what Rick Moran says, and I agree:

It’s been announced that the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will present the “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award” to Duck Dynasty character Phil Robertson. Robertson’s comments about gays and blacks were almost universally condemned for their bigotry, their insensitivity, and their outright ignorance.

Certainly, Robertson has the right under the first amendment to prove to the world what an ignoramus he is. But CPAC honoring this country clown for being shockingly uninformed is the last straw for me.


I didn’t know Andrew Breitbart well, but I knew him well enough to be reasonably sure he wouldn’t want his name attached to an award for a bigot like Robertson. There’s a difference, one Breitbart understood, between fighting for an idiot’s right to speak his tiny mind, and giving him a prestigious award for it.

Further down though is where we get to the meat of Moran’s troubles with the ACU specifically, and with trends in modern conservatism more generally:

I find myself in a similar position to Josh Barro, a center-right columnist who believes that conservatism isn’t defined by a set of mostly immutable principles, but rather by those who call themselves “conservative.” The right — like the left — has a series of litmus tests by which your conservatism or liberalism is judged. In other words, your position on issues defines whether you are conservative or not, rather than the principles that undergird the assumptions upon which one’s position on the issues is based defining your fealty to conservative philosophy.

It’s a backasswards way of judging who or what is conservative and I’ve never adhered to it.

Conservatism — classical liberalism, really — is not a defined set of conclusions, with orthodoxy be determined by litmus test. (Burn her, she’s a witch!) Conservatism is supposed to represent a way of thinking, specifically about how best to preserve the liberties first won by white, male Americans in 1783, and expanding those liberties to all Americans.


In that sense then, only conservatives (and libertarians) can be truly pluralistic, because we’re the only ones in favor of the broad set of liberties which allow for the true pluralism represented by “the pursuit of happiness.”

And yet those of us who have reached different conclusions on certain issues, or whose mere existence offends, find ourselves unwelcome in any official capacity at “conservatism’s” biggest annual event. How bad is it? ACU has reportedly gotten parsimonious with blogger press credentials, and from what I’ve seen and heard, there seems to be a bias against more libertarian-minded bloggers. (AFP has been waging a smart new media campaign for May’s RightOnline event, publicly inviting writers whom the ACU has shunned.)

I write these words as I prepare to pack my bags, yes, for CPAC — my first visit there in six years. The 2009 event was a drab affair, a funeral procession following Barack Obama’s swearing in and the passage of the do-nothing stimulus act. Around that same time, one of the very first Tea Party rallies, a small affair of just 70 or 80 people, was held in Denver. I thought then that CPAC was the past, and that the Tea Party was the future. The Tea didn’t turn out as strong as I’d hoped, but I can’t help thinking I was at least half right.


So I’m attending in a non-attending capacity — there to share cocktails & conversation with friends and colleagues, to catch up on old stories and new ideas. We’re the kind of friends who might disagree on a few issues, but who can still find company and comradeship in our defense of this beautifully American thing called “liberty and justice for all.”

You can find me in the lobby bar.


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