The Conversation

Big tents and big tentpoles

In response to Lord: 'CPAC is the Conservative Tent,' not the 'Big Tent':

It's always tough to establish a tent based on ideology, rather than party loyalty, especially when various forces seek to pull that ideology in different directions.  The current incarnation of liberalism is united by a single mission - make the government bigger, at the expense of people they don't like.  Their tent will grow a good deal more tense if real "austerity" sets in, and it's finally time to make Interest Group A sacrifice in the name of Interest Group B.  We're a few years away from fiscal reality forcing such hard times upon the Left, and they're pretty confident they can keep the electorate sedated until systemic collapse gets under way, so for the moment their conventions are happy combinations of shopping sprees and bank-heist planning sessions.

Conservatism has always been more fractious, which is good if you enjoy robust debate, but maybe not so great when you're planning a march on the ballot box.  I agree with Lord's thesis about the primary focus of CPAC being conservative networking and energizing.  At various points, the conversations in such meetings will inevitably turn to electoral influence, but the focus should remain on conservatism itself.  In business terms, the electoral and political-party discussions at CPAC should be about marketing, not production.

The other thing about the "exclusionary" criticism leveled at CPAC for non-inviting Chris Christie is that he was under consideration for a prime speaking slot, which is rather different from the involvement of a group like GOProud.  I'm all in favor of inviting the latter, provided the issues that caused their dis-invitation are worked out, and I assume adults on all sides of that conversation could come to an agreement.  But there's only so much time available on the big stage, and however big the conservative tent might be, Chris Christie is wrapping up a year that should disqualify him from service as one of the tent poles.  For the sake of Christie, the GOP, and conservatism, it would be great if that situation improved over the next year or two.


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