It sounds as if the progressive community is getting a bit of CPAC envy these days. The conservative conclave has become a regular fixture for Republican candidates and activists every year, drawing huge crowds and big names for featured speakers and panel attendees. The amount of media coverage the event generates has really opened the doors for some lesser-known and underfunded hopefuls, as well as providing a platform for promoting conservative ideas which formerly fell outside of mainstream GOP thinking. Can the Democrats benefit from having a similar event on their yearly calendar? The Center for American Progress certainly seems to think so. (Politico)
Instead of CPAC, it’ll be the Ideas Conference. Instead of at the National Harbor, it’ll be in the main room at the St. Regis Hotel, a few blocks from the White House. Instead of featuring President Donald Trump, it’ll be the first real cattle call of the Democrats nosing around 2020 presidential runs.
And it’ll be the Center for American Progress’s biggest move yet to establish itself as both the nexus of the Democratic Party’s future — and a player trying to shape what that future will be.
They’re roughly modeling the event on CPAC, the American Conservative Union’s annual gathering that’s become a prime stop for Republican leaders, and which notably gave Donald Trump his first major political platform as he was entering the fray.
Wait a minute. Didn’t you guys already have something like that for yourselves? I seem to recall something about Netroots Nation being the “answer to CPAC” back in the day. Checking their website just now, it looks like they are on track to have yet another such gathering in August of this year down in Atlanta. This sounds like something of a slap in the face to the Daily KOS crowd if you ask me.
Well, I suppose we can let them fight that out amongst themselves. As far as the plans being put forward by the Center for American Progress, I’m not going to throw cold water all over it immediately. They’re certainly an extremely well-funded group (thanks, George Soros!) and they’ve already lined up quite a list of guest speakers. They shouldn’t have any difficulty in arranging a suitably sized facility, particularly given the size of the St. Regis hotel. (Really dodged a bullet by not picking one of the venues owned by Donald Trump I suppose.)
But speaking as someone who has attended his fair share of such events I’m willing to bet that they have a rather steep learning curve ahead of them. If you think that the American Conservative Union has an easy time of it in herding the various groups of cats which show up at CPAC every year you have another think coming. It’s not really so much a question of paying the bills or getting enough floor space, but rather playing referee to the diverse elements of the conservative movement. We’ve had more than our fair share of meltdowns over the years and there are really only three or four primary groups to deal with. The progressives come from a much more diverse field of characters representing a whole host of agendas. (And not all of them see eye to eye on the rest of the planks in the Democratic platform.)
But then again, everything has a learning curve and I have no doubt that they will find a way to overcome the various challenges which await them. Now the only question is who from our team is going to get stuck with going down there and covering the food fights when they inevitably erupt.