I really did not intend to write anything negative about CPAC this year. They were gracious enough to invite me to do a book signing. It had a great turn-out and the book was sold out at the CPAC bookstore! However, after seeing ACU (host of CPAC) Chairman Al Cardenas’ response to criticism from LifeNews.com that there were no panels on the pro-life movement I had to respond.
As the former Director of CPAC for five years, I know that not every issue can be included. However, his response to this valid criticism of not including a panel on the pro-life movement is simply tone-deaf and inconsistent with reality. Cardenas said:
There are certain battles that are waged in the movement and that battle has been won. I would say that if you asked a question about being pro-life, ninety-plus percent of the conservative movement is pro-life. So, we engage in panels mostly in those questions that are still to be answered and those questions where folks are still to be persuaded and present various points of view. The pro-life question has been decided long ago in the movement and the movement, by and large, is pro-life and there is nothing to be gained by going about it.
Now, having said that, we had a number of speakers yesterday who addressed the issue: Governor Mike Huckabee, Ralph Reed and then our keynote speaker at the Reagan Dinner, Dr. James Robison. So, we had plenty of speakers who were given the freedom to speak their wish, to address the issue passionately, but the panels are for questions that remain to be answered. That one’s been answered. [emphasis added]
It’s certainly a problem when the head of the movement’s largest event thinks we only need to have battles within our movement. As far as I can tell, his only idea for outreach outside the conservative movement is an amnesty plan for illegal immigrants.
My only question — Why continue to have panels on capitalism or Obamacare? Haven’t those battles been won within the conservative movement? Instead let’s highlight our myriad of disagreements and failures at one of the few conferences that actually gets covered by the mainstream media! Yeah, that’s a winning strategy!
(In case you missed it, here’s Oscar-winner Jared Leto’s acceptance speech.)
I was just emailing with a friend on this issue and she pointed out that thousands of young people attend CPAC and many may have been raised in apolitical or pro-choice homes. As Andrew Breitbart used to say, being pro-choice is the default position. A simple “I’m pro-life” from a politician before they go on to the next platitude is just an applause line with no substance. The purpose of panel discussions is to talk about techniques, challenges and what’s going on in the states. Not including panels on pro-life issues does a disservice to all attendees, particularly the students.