CPAC: What’s next for America’s conservative movement?
Every February, pundits, politicians, analysts, students, and average Americans descend upon Washington, DC for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
This is the conservative movement’s biggest event of the year, as they try to prove that they are right, and everyone else is wrong. Tea Party favorite Congresswoman Michele Bachmann kicked-off the festivities as the keynote speaker and even poked fun at her previous inability to find the right camera, saying, “Oh, wait a minute, someone told me that I need to find the right camera, so let me see.” Bachmann told the crowd they had a lot to be grateful for, and if one rummaged through the CPAC party favors, Ronald Reagan seemed to be THE person they were told to be grateful for.Out of the some 10,000 attendees about half were students. However, it was more than party favors that attracted them to CPAC. One student told RT, “I’ve been conservative since I was born.” Another student said they came to the conference because, “I know very well that I could be seeing our next president here today.” CPAC is generally known as a launching platform for future Republican presidential candidates to try to get their message across and win over conservative voters early on.Some conservative groups however boycotted the conference this year over the inclusion of GOProud, a group of Republican gays and lesbians. Some of the more socially conservative groups fear CPAC may be becoming less conservative, and more libertarian.Tabitha Hale, the new media director at the conservative FreedomWorks explained America was founded on freedom, freedom of religion, schools, markets and everything. There should be more choices in life at the individual level, not the government. Citing healthcare, Hale said the conservative movement is about freedom to choose for one’s self – whether it be schools or insurance. People have an individual right ot make choices, not the government. Amanda Carey, a reporter for The Daily Caller added low taxes and conservative fiscal policies, including spending cuts must prevail and have remained consistent over the years. “There is a clear divide within the movement that’s been perpetuated lately with Ron Paul and his libertarian movement, but the fiscal issues have always remained the same,” she said. Currently, the majority of the split is on social issues, libertarians tend to worry less about social issues, such as abortions and related topics. “The uniting factor has been we’ve got to stop spending,” Hale said. “No matter what your issue is, even if you’re talking about abortion or you’re talking about stimulus money, there has to be some accountability and I think that’s what people are craving. I think that has been the center of the Tea Party movement, of the conservative movement, of the libertarian movement. It’s not a matter of which issue is the most important; it is a matter of which issue is the most pressing at that moment.” In the 2010 election the split between Republicans was evident, as Tea Party and established conservative Republicans faced off. A number of conservatives lost their political seats to Tea Party candidates. As the split continues, there is a concern the 2012 presidential elections might be a challenge for conservatives trying to find a candidate to unite the groups together.“It’s a tough climate,” commented Hale. “We are in a rebuilding process and I think that’s ok.”The main concern and challenge is finding a viable candidate for the national scene, added Carey.