I recall my time at CPAC last year, fighting with the people we were associated with to embrace conservatism while there was still time. At the time, conservatives were still split between presidential candidates Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Others who thought themselves to be conservatives attempted to make the case for Trump, a guy who at the time held every view of Obama and Clinton and, during the campaign, actually held Bernie Sanders' socialist positions on things like healthcare and trade.
I remember the feeling at CPAC, having been a conservative facing others that were filled anger and frustration. These emotions made those people practically impossible to reason with and logic was rendered helpless against their passions. I felt like there were really three ideological camps at CPAC last year: died in the wool Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters who neither understood conservatism nor had any usefulness for the GOP. I never felt like Obama, liberalism, or progressivism was ever the object of attack. It was a battle for control within the right.
Well, we all know that Trump won. Conservatives and Republicans alike, in large numbers, held their noses and voted against Hillary Clinton. I personally did not vote for Trump. I couldn’t have voted for him and then written in good conscience write a piece like this one.
Presently, Republicans are now in control of the Congress and the White House. The appeal is clearly the message of a return to nationalism, capitalism, and Judeo-Christian values, all of which are up for subjective discussion as to whether or not these three ideas are what really made America great. These made up the undercurrent of Trump's campaign and continue to be the undercurrent of the administration moving forward. But does this message fit within conservatism?
That brings me to this year's CPAC.
I can only imagine, that were I going to CPAC this year, I would once again be a minority voice. I would be a voice of sobriety within a sea of power-drunk fools who are simply not tethered to any principles be they constitutional or traditional. They are tired of being dictated to and are more than willing and ready to do the dictating. Alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to be keynote speaker this year. A video subsequently emerged of an apparent support of pedophilia, where his own personal abuse story was credited for his personal skills in fellatio. This claim was immediately walked back as comedic expression and repudiation and Yiannopoulos was swiftly uninvited.
Really? Pedophilia has to be repudiated? Have you not seen any of Milo's videos? Was this really the face we wanted representing conservatives? Being against the establishment, against feminism, against political correctness, and against the media does not make someone a conservative. It does, however, allow someone to score many points with low-information, frustrated, angry Americans who just want someone to punch back at the very institutions that they feel have been beating them down for several decades now.
CPAC and the conservatives that are attending better be more than attendees. They need to be prepared to be contenders. Contenders for the faith, contenders for the constitution, contenders for conservative values, contenders for the moral high ground, and contenders for what made America great in the first place. Contenders for truth. Reject leftist techniques. Reject propaganda and empty deceit. Reject a by any means necessary mentality. Reject intellectual dishonesty and inconsistency. Call out those who give passes when similar situations happened and no pass was given. Point out that this event and effect thereof are for conservatism and not for the GOP, not for the alt-right, and not for the former Hillary donor's re-election bid. The country's future depends on you.