Politico's Ben Smith reported over the weekend on the decision by certain social conservatives to boycott the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) next month because a gay rights group, GOProud, will be in attendance. Ben wrote:
CPAC's supporters suggest that its critics are the groups that risk being cast aside as conservatism moves forward: Birthers, surely, but also the elements of the right who actively fight same-sex marriage.
But those socially conservative groups remain large elements of the conservative movement, and while the new tea party has a fiscal focus, polling suggests its members are overwhelmingly also Christian conservatives. Some Christian conservative groups, like the Family Research Council - has long eschewed CPAC, and others, like Concerned Women for America, have dropped out and come back before.
Aside from the personal gripes of the boycotters about the organizers of CPAC ("Too insular!" shout those who are taking their marbles and going home), Ben, I think correctly, spots in this tussle a generational issue:
Some of CPAC's younger participants, however, support GOProud's attendance.
"I think it's kind of representative of what's happening our movement. Some say the youth are moving away from social conservatism," and Jordan Marks, the executive director of Young Americans for Freedom, which is participating in the event. "The movement is going through growing pains right now."
"I think there is a beef there. I think GOProud got caught in the crossfire," said Terri Christoph, the founder of the group Smart Girl Politics.
Yesterday, Grover Norquist, one of the CPAC organizers and the head of Americans for Tax Reform, told me that none of this has affected attendance for the event. He said that registration is "on track with last year, which was an historic high." He also said that the potential presidential contenders slated to attend are "all coming." He noted that there is always some group that claims that its interests are underplayed. From his perspective, the tax issue is "understressed." But Norquist has little patience with the boycotters. He argued: "Successful movements don't whine about others. They demonstrate their significance by having many of their own attend, as did Ron Paul's guys who thought their views underrepresented the previous year. They had hundreds attend."
Indeed, by stalking out of the event, the conservative groups risk demonstrating not their own significance, but their own marginalization. As for GOProud's supporters, they can take some pride in observing that core conservatives and 2012 presidential candidates won't be cowed by social conservatives who are unwilling to defend their views among their fellow conservatives. Score: Big Tent Republicans 1, Boycotters 0.
Posted by: FlexSF | January 10, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse
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