Shortly after the election I wrote a serious opinion piece titled “Diagnosis: GOP HIV — The Republican Party … Has AIDS?” which largely addressed the atmosphere I felt permeated the Conservative Political Action Conference last year. Not intending to sound repetitive here, but CPAC 2012 had a divisive, cantankerous atmosphere I found ominous.
Granted, it was primary season last year, so the atmosphere was naturally “divisive,” as in people being divided among whom they were supporting for the Republican presidential nominee. However I found the divisiveness went so far, ran so deep, that is surpa … no, violated the boundaries of mutual respect. We showed no respect for each other based on our differences, even though we were on the same side of the political aisle. Ironically, we were proving the Left’s favorite stereotype of us: intolerant, infantile buffoons. And I fear I will see this stereotype again at this year’s CPAC.
Following our humiliating defeat last November, I fear this year’s CPAC is not going to be one of calm, mature reflection and coalescence around how we can move forward. I fear it will be quite the opposite. I fear it will be a rerun of what I saw last year, but on steroids. I hope to be proved wrong. I want to be wrong. I would love nothing more than to see unity and pensive discussion on how the Right can overcome our recent defeats and again convince the majority of Americans that our solutions are the best. But I doubt I will see this. I fear that all 2013’s CPAC will devolve into is an elaborate three-day orgy of finger-pointing, accusations, anger, depression, and blame – slapping.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t like proving the negative stereotypes my political enemies bestow upon me (at least to a point). I don’t like proving my opponents right, adding more fuel to those hateful fires raging in their eyes. Although it does feels good initially to be spiteful and give the almighty middle finger to those who hate you; who think they know you so well, yet actually know hardly a thing. But in the long run spite itself rarely achieves anything.
So my question to you, fellow CPAC goers: what’s it going to be? Are we going to sit around this year, figuratively “post-mortem,” pointing fingers, casting blame, hissing and cursing those on our side we believe cost us the election? Is that what I’m going to see this year?
Am I going to hear the New World Order believer with the aluminum foil cap on his head cursing the Rick Santorum supporter with a Bible in his hand? Am I going to hear the 101% pro-lifer tell someone they’re not a conservative and don’t belong in the “movement” because they believe abortion is acceptable in cases of rape or incest? Am I going to see the activist with the “End The Fed” button get into it with the young lady wearing the “I Love Israel” pin, or vice-versa? Am I going to see the diehard libertarian refuse to talk to someone who believes there should be some amount of Social Security, Medicare and other economic safety nets? Christian Right vs. Log Cabin? Rand Paul supporters vs. Chris Christie supporters? Truthers vs. Birthers? Flat tax vs. no tax..?
If this is what CPAC 2013 is going to be, folks, then we may as well collectively kiss our asses goodbye for generations to come. And I dare say we will deserve it, for we will have only ourselves to blame.
Imagine us as being on a ship — the Titanic, if you will. However our Titanic does not have to sink. And while our conservative “Titanic” has its hull filling with water, what I saw last year, and what I pray I will not see this year are its passengers scattering about, each out for their pet cause, damning everyone else; each clamoring for their own lifeboat or blaming each other for hitting the iceberg in the first place. I don’t want to see some of us playing instruments on the deck while only a few of us have enough sense to simply try to stop the flooding. I don’t want to see people stuffing their pockets with the ship’s crystal glasses and silverware, while others horde lifejackets or stand around smugly, huffing “I told you we shouldn’t have sailed this route” … all while Billy Zane chases Leonardo DiCaprio around with a gun.
In effect, I don’t want to see people running around still fighting for their pet issues and condemning others for their pet issues. Our entire ship is SINKING, people! So we better put away our differences, put our heads together, head below deck and agree on how to stop our catastrophe.
So I do not want to hear disunity. I do not want to hear infighting. I do not want to hear despair or the so alluring blame game. This is the Conservative Political Action Conference, not the Pity Party Inaction Consortium. Leave the infantilism, self-pity and crying to the Left (those are their hallmarks, not ours).
So I do not want to hear commiserating simply for commiseration’s sake; asking each other “what went wrong” just to hear similar answers ricochet around like in some gigantic, pathetic echo chamber. Instead those answers need to be elaborated upon, studied, and ultimately agreed upon, learned from, and thus have their lessons constructively put to use in years to come. This is a chance to learn from our mistakes, not mourn them, nor excoriate the Left for their messages and methods behind their victories.
This is what I want to hear at CPAC 2013: unity, pride, resilience, contemplation, pragmatism … and vigor! However, if there are too many conservatives who still wish to remain on deck blaming others for our sinking and somberly playing the violin, then so be it. Meanwhile, the rest of us will be down below honestly working to stop our sinking and will meet you again … in the ash heap of history.
Good luck, CPAC 2013. Please prove me wrong.