The Conservative Political Action Conference is the pinnacle of events for conservative activists. Held annually in Washington DC in the winter, it aggregates hundreds of conservative activist groups and thousands of attendees, and attracts high-profile figures on the Right, including national and regional politicians hoping to tap CPAC’s energy. Not all of these groups agree with each other on all issues, and sometimes the close quarters results in some entertaining debates (and sometimes just silly displays, such as the porpoise that followed Mitt Romney throughout the Omni in 2007). But the inclusion of a conservative coalition of gays, GOProud, has created calls for the ACU and CPAC to cut off GOProud’s sponsorship and attendance at CPAC as well as a few rumblings of a boycott among social conservatives.
This is justified in e-mails circulating among conservatives based on allegations that GOProud is a crypto-Leftist group seeking to infiltrate and weaken conservative policies. However, that doesn’t match up with the group’s stated legislative priorities, which do not go any further than most of the conservative and libertarian groups that regularly attend and sponsor the conference. I’ll post their list in its entirety:
1 – TAX REFORM – Death tax repeal; domestic partner tax equity, and other changes to the tax code that will provide equity for gays and lesbians; cut in the capital gains and corporate tax rates to jump start our economy and create jobs; a fairer, flatter and substantially simpler tax code.
2 – HEALTHCARE REFORM – Free market healthcare reform. Legislation that will allow for the purchase of insurance across state lines – expanding access to domestic partner benefits; emphasizing individual ownership of healthcare insurance – such a shift would prevent discriminatory practices by an employer or the government.
3 – SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM – Bringing basic fairness to the Social Security system through the creation of inheritable personal savings accounts.
4 – DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL REPEAL – Repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
5 – HOLDING THE LINE ON SPENDING – Standing up for all tax payers against wasteful and unneccessary spending to protect future generations from the mounting federal debt.
6 – FIGHTING GLOBAL EXTREMISTS – Standing strong against radical regimes who seek to criminalize gays and lesbians.
7 – DEFENDING OUR CONSTITUTION – Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment.
8 – ENCOURAGING COMMUNITY ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Package of free market reforms to encourage and support small businesses and entrepreneurship in the gay community.
9 – REVITALIZING OUR COMMUNITIES – A package of urban related reforms; expanding historic tax preservation credits; support for school choice.
10 – DEFENDING OUR COMMUNITY – Protecting 2nd amendment rights.
Social conservatives will have a problem with numbers 4 and possibly 7, although the latter relates to a Constitutional amendment making marriage a federal issue, which conservatives should be wary of doing anyway. Otherwise, their platform could be just as easily adopted at a Tea Party as at GOProud, and would receive rousing support from the floor at CPAC coming from any other entity. It’s not a far-Left or crypto-Left agenda at all, but a good, solid recitation of conservative principles and fiscal responsibility.
In other words, we have at least an 80% agreement on the major issues facing our country between mainstream conservatives and this sponsor of CPAC. That seems like a pretty good fit. I asked Lisa De Pasquale, the director of CPAC, for a response to the controversy:
CPAC is a coalition of nearly 100 conservative groups, some of which may disagree with one another on a handful of issues. But, at the end of the day, we all agree on core conservative principles. As you may know, GOProud was founded by a former member of the Log Cabin Republicans who left the group because he thought they were doing a disservice to their constituency by not adhering to conservative and Republican principles. GOProud’s website states “GOProud is committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy. GOProud promotes our traditional conservative agenda by influencing politics and policy at the federal level.”
After talking with their leadership and reviewing their website, I am satisfied that they do not represent a “radical leftist agenda,” as some have stated, and should not be rejected as a CPAC cosponsor.
This seems like a wise decision, and this controversy challenges conservatives as to whether they’re interested in a governing coalition based on fundamental conservative principles or a mission of absolute purity on the Right. If we want to win control of the House in 2010, we need to focus on key principles that address the nation’s crises and the main points of disillusion with Democrats. That should set our focus on those points on which Democrats overreached — namely, spending, government intrusion, spiraling deficits, and fiscal insanity. We need to show that we can, if trusted with power again, govern properly and responsibly, and even more that we understand that the priorities are the fiscal issues and not the social issues that divide more than they unite.
GOProud’s priorities are fundamentally in line with that effort. We should not allow a purity campaign to push away natural allies on the fiscal crisis that grips our country, and the opportunity we have to correct it in 2010.
Update: I misspelled Lisa’s name; I’ve corrected it above. My apologies.