The American Principles Project, brainchild of the estimable and invaluable Robert P. George, has posted an open letter to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) citing their refusal to attend this year’s February conference. The reason? CPAC, for the second year in a row, has given booth space (and implicit endorsement) to GOProud, the gay, conservative group trying so blissfully to gain a seat at the conservative table.
I, for one, am thankful that APP has the courage and clarity to distill the serious and deleterious effects of GOProud’s invitation at the preeminent conservative conference in America.
The note contains several sobering critiques of allowing such an organization into the conservative fold:
An organization committed to the ultimate abandonment of the legal and social meaning of marriage by definition disqualifies itself from recognition as a partner in the conservative cause.
Having now examined closely GOProud’s mission and its behavior since its inception, we can only conclude that the organization’s purposes are fundamentally incompatible with a movement that has long embraced the ideals of family and faith in a thriving civil society.
The issue is not that GOProud works on only four of the five traditional items on the conservative agenda – rather, it omits – because it actively opposes – one part of the core. It is no more acceptable as a participant at CPAC than a group that said it embraced the “traditional conservative agenda” but actively worked for higher taxes and greater governmental control of the economy.
The truth is that conservatism has placed so much emphasis on, and trust in, the institutions of civil society because it is inconceivable that the public conditions of economic freedom and national strength can subsist when the institutions of marriage and family are subverted.
Bravo. The letter to CPAC, which was composed by Frank Cannon, is articulate and respectful. Nothing within the letter is disagreeable. In fact, it’s dead on.
And yet, as much as I want to agree with their decision not to attend this year’s conference, I’m not convinced that this is the correct path to take. Social conservatives have taken a beating of late, especially in light of the raucous tea party movement’s dominance. By APP forfeiting their presence, they may be sacrificing needed capital and conveying a sense of entitlement. It’s the entitlement, though, that we deserve. Without the Kirkian strand of conservative thought, the tripartite identity of conservatism would collapse.
By simply refusing to attend the convention, APP is missing an important opportunity to engage the apparent conflict now arising between social conservatives and an ever-softening moderate Right. I would suggest that, in addition to penning a different and similarly strong worded letter, APP project themselves as the standard bearer for an upset, silent majority.
Perhaps we grew lazy with eight years of a social conservative in the presidency. Now, though, it may be time for social conservatives and APP to wield their authority and flex their muscles; casting this protest as an impending collapse of historic conservatism and force CPAC’s hand.
As is the tendency, the aggressive encroachment of the homosexual agenda (now, sadly adopted by many high profile conservatives) presents itself as a third-rail politic. It’s befuddling to social conservatives how such a small minority can garner enough support to make CPAC and the American Conservative Union kowtow to their demands. From my perspective, CPAC’s inability to voice opposition to GOProud is a massive failure not only for their own organization, but for conservatism at large.
I love the American Princples Project. In many ways, their letter is a tribute to my own concerns. Moreover, I respect them for eschewing any form of compromise. I just wish alternative, and more drastic paths were considered.
What say you?
Update on 11.19.10 @ 11:50 AM: APP is reporting that CPAC is voting on whether to revoke its invitation to GOProud at this year’s conference.