A Less Libertarian CPAC In The Future?

The new Chairman of the American Conservative Union seems to want to mend fences with social conservatives, even if that means throwing new friends under the bus.


The new head of the American Conservative Union seems to be inclined to move away from the direction that the group, and its signature event CPAC, have been moving the past several years:

The new chair of the American Conservative Union, Al Cardenas, today distanced his organization from GOProud, telling FrumForum in an exclusive interview that “it’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship” with the gay conservative organization.

The ACU, which annually organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference, has faced some criticism for including GOProud as a co-sponsor for the second year in a row. Socially conservative organizations have denounced the move, and the Heritage Foundation claimed that GOProud’s inclusion was part of their decision to opt-out.

Cardenas, who was selected yesterday to replace outgoing chairman David Keene, told FrumForum that he disapproved of GOProud’s response to the furor.

“I have been disappointed with their website and their quotes in the media, taunting organizations that are respected in our movement and part of our movement, and that’s not acceptable. And that puts them in a difficult light in terms of how I view things,” said Cardenas.

GOProud had asserted that Cleta Mitchell, the chairman of the ACU Foundation, was pushing conservative groups and individuals to boycott CPAC because of GOProud’s inclusion. Chris Barron, the chairman of GOProud, recently said in an interview that Mitchell was “a nasty bigot.”

“It’s going to be difficult to continue the relationship [with GOProud] because of their behavior and attitude,” Cardenas told FrumForum.

Barron later retracted his statement about Mitchell and issued an apology:

“For the past six months, we have watched as unfair and untrue attacks have been leveled against our organization, our allies, our friends and sometimes even their families. Everyone has their breaking point and clearly in my interview with Metro Weekly I had reached mine. I shouldn’t have used the language that I did to describe Cleta Mitchell and for that I apologize.”

Nonetheless it seems clear that while Cardenas does believe in the idea of a “big tent” approach to conservatism and CPAC, it’s clearly a different kind of big tent:

“There are not enough African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities here. That diversity is critical – you don’t need to change your value system to attract more diversity into the movement… [but] I’m not going to – for the sake of being inclusive – change the principles that have made the movement what it is,” said Cardenas.

“David [Keene] invited these folks [GOProud] in an effort to be inclusive… Having friends of ours leaving… presents difficulties to me,” he said. “There’s always going to be some tension, [but] there should never be any tension between time-tested values.”

Asked if someone who supported gay marriage could be a conservative, Cardenas replied, “Not a Ronald Reagan conservative… I will say this: we adopted a resolution unanimously at ACU advocating traditional marriage between a man and a woman, so that answers how we feel on the issue.”

Cardenas says that his priorities as the new ACU chairman will be focused on “making sure that our true friends never leave the table.”

This seems to be a clear signal that Cardenas wants to mend fences with the social conservatives who have boycotted CPAC over the past two years because of the presence of GOProud, even if that means throwing gay conservatives and libertarians under the bus. Considering that the last two years at CPAC have been some of the most successful ever thanks to the presence of groups like GOProud, and the Ron Paul crowd, that makes it seem like Cardenas is really looking top make conservatism a smaller, more ideologically rigid tent.

That doesn’t strike me as politically smart in the long run.

Update: With regard to Cardenas’s comments about gay marriage, Allahpundit makes this point:

If Cardenas is all about time-tested values, what’s gay-marriage supporter Dick Cheney doing there?

Heh

FILED UNDER: US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    So in brief, “conservatives” are telling you to bugger off while they throw their arms wide open to the people you consider wingnuts.

    And you’re surprised?

    Toldja so about a hundred times. The GOP — and let’s not pretend it’s not the party we’re talking about — is the wingnuts. The homophobes, the racists, the birthers, the anti-evolutionists, are the party, not you and your libertarian friends.

    The wingnut commenters here at OTB have been right about you all along. You’re not a conservative as that word is now defined, you don’t belong in the GOP, in fact you’re just a Democrat in denial.

  2. Michael,

    I cannot conceive of any situation where I’d be able to vote for a Democrat. At least not as long as they continue to think that government is the answer to our problems.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Doug:

    Say what now? We’re the ones who think government is the answer to all our problems? Then how is it that we’re the ones who fight government restrictions on the way people live their lives?

    You’re reacting to a parody, not to reality. The reality is that the Democrats are far more closely aligned with the Libertarians on every social issue. But also on fiscal issues since we at least don’t engage in the magical thinking that says we can have everything and pay for nothing. We at least get that there’s a relationship between what we bring in and what we spend.

    I’m not holding that up as an ideal, but it beats the hell out of the staggering dishonesty of the GOP which — as we’ve seen recently — doesn’t really want to cut government but also doesn’t want to pay for it.

    You’re buying the advertising, not the product. On the reality of government the GOP and the Democrats are in 99% agreement. But we think we should make an honest effort to pay for it, while the allegedly conservative side prefers fantasy.

    So on that basis you side with a party that goes out of its way to relegate your fellow Americans to inferior status. On that basis you shrug while the GOP dismantles science education and promulgates paranoid theories.

    Every day you blog about the imbecility of Republicans like Palin. And every day you read the comments and see that the self-identified conservatives are cretins. And you know as well as I do that the average Democrat is more to your taste — smarter, better-informed, more open-minded, more secular.

  4. Michael,

    And when it comes to economics, Democrats are completely antithetical to libertarian ideas. Not to mention the fact that both the Clinton and Obama Administration’s commitments to civil liberties is no better than the Republicans.After all it was a Democrat who said he had the right, without the possibility of judicial review, to issue an order to assassinate an American citizen.

  5. Ben says:

    Well, there ya go, GOProud and R-Libertarians. Now you know how “conservatives” feel about you.

    “We don’t serve YOUR KIND ’round here”

  6. EddieInCA says:

    Doug –

    Your disconnect is amazing.

    1. It was the GOP in 2000-2006 that expanded the size of government by historic proportions.
    2. It was the GOP, controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency, who gave us the monstrosity known as Medicare Pard D.
    3. It was the GOP, controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency, who gave us two wars while refusing to pay for them, and even taking them out of the official budget.
    4. It’s the GOP, now and forever, attempting to use government to enforce their moral code.
    5. It’s the GOP, now and forever, which, other than lowering taxes, has zero solutions for the many crisis’ facing the country.

    Again, I could go on and on, but… yeah, it’s the Democrats that are the problem.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    No better on civil liberties? Please. Who ordered torture, and who ended it? Who voted against this latest extension of the Patriot Act?

    On economics there’s widespread consensus, actually. Who isn’t a capitalist in this country? You think all of Silicon Valley donates to the Democrats because Google and Apple are secret socialists? You think I’m not a capitalist? You think as I eyeball a couple of hundred million potential readers in China I’m not a free trader?

    Again, this is an outdated script. You’re reacting to McGovern, not to Clinton or Obama.

    In terms of the size of government there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the GOP and the Dems, and in terms of economic theory there’s about the same. The real differences are on social issues. And on those you are much closer to us than to them. On those issues the gap is wide. But you’re fixated on invisibly small differences between the GOP and the Dems on economic issues — issues where the Dems at least acknowledge the laws of gravity while the GOP goes tra la la-ing along in fantasy land.

  8. In terms of the size of government there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the GOP and the Dems

    You’ve broken the code. That’s why I don’t consider myself either a Democrat or a Republican. I’ll vote for the candidate who most closely matches my values and, to be honest, the only Democrats who could come close to doing that would have no chance of succeeding in their party based on their stand on economics alone.

  9. Moosebreath says:

    Eddie,

    “2. It was the GOP, controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency, who gave us the monstrosity known as Medicare Pard D.”

    Without even pretending it needed to be paid for. As Michael says, the Democrats at least understand that candy isn’t free and needs to be paid for.

  10. Herb says:

    “Democrats are completely antithetical to libertarian ideas”

    Doug, hate to break it to you, but so are Republicans. Seriously, the idea that GOP is more libertarian than the Democrats is an idea that has very little basis.

  11. sam says:

    “Cardenas is really looking top make conservatism a smaller, more ideologically rigid tent”

    That won’t require a great deal of effort.

  12. Herb says:

    “the only Democrats who could come close to doing that would have no chance of succeeding in their party based on their stand on economics alone.”

    I’m not so sure about that…..

    Regional differences may vary, of course, but here in Colorado our governor is John Hickenlooper, a staunch pro-business capitalist. Then we have Jared Polis in the House, a self-made entrepreneur who might have once been a Republican save for the fact that he’s gay.

    And yet you really think people like Steve King or Michele Bachmann are closer to your ideological preferences? Really???

  13. mantis says:

    In terms of the size of government there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the GOP and the Dems

    You’ve broken the code. That’s why I don’t consider myself either a Democrat or a Republican.

    But you’ll vote for Republicans regularly, and admittedly “cannot conceive of any situation where I’d be able to vote for a Democrat.” And this despite the fact that the Republican Party is far more antithetical to libertarian “ideas,” if libertarianism means anything other than garden variety wingnutism. Sadly, it doesn’t.

  14. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug, you won’t remember this but what’s going on at CPAC bears more than a passing resemblance to the Democrats in Chicago in ’68, but without Daley. As must be apparent from the events in the house this week the GOP is currently all over the board and this is before they even get to the stage of actually having to participate in the governing process.

  15. mantis says:

    Why libertarians are full of shit, Part #19023:

    Jacob Sullum over at lack of Reason has decided that if private employers choose not to hire smokers, because they are less productive, cost more in health care, etc., that this is just another sign of encroaching totalitarian government in the US.

    Yes, you read that right. His response to private companies making decisions about whom they hire based on financial and productivity concerns is to complain about the evils government. This is, one would think, something that libertarians would have no problem with, seeing as how they so often tell us that all this anti-discrimination legislation that protects groups like women and minorities is wrong and un-American. Discrimination should not be illegal; the free market will work it all out (see: Rand Paul, re: Civil Rights Act).

    “a free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination, even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin.”

    But apparently no! It’s wrong for the government to pass anti-discrimination and civil rights protections, but it’s also wrong for private employees to decide whom they hire however they want. Oh wait, it’s only wrong when the basis of their decisions is the choices potential employees make (smoking or not). That’s bad discrimination. Discrimination based on non-choices such as the color of one’s skin or one’s gender, well that should be allowed, but begrudgingly (of course)!

    It’s enough to make your head spin, unless you realize that libertarians are not the slightest bit interested in freedom, fairness, or logic. They live in a fantasy land where everything the government does is evil totalitarianism, even if it’s just making sure proper nutritional information is available to consumers so they can make informed decisions (highlighted as “controlling what you eat” here at OTB, and if a private company makes a decision they don’t like, well that’s somehow government totalitarianism as well. Libertarianism isn’t a political philosophy; it’s a late-night drunken, rambling diatribe engaged in by shallow naifs.

  16. Ben says:

    Mantis – by all means, call out Sollum all you want for making a non-sensical argument. But trying to tie that in to all libertarians is rubbish. The argument he is making IS stupid, and is most certainly NOT a libertarian argument at all. Now granted, I’m talking about actual libertarianism, not the faux-libertarianism that morons like Glenn Beck and some of the Tea Parties claim they are.

    I understand that you’ll probably accuse me of using a No True Scotsman fallacy here, but I hate it when people mischaracterize an entire philosophy based on the ramblings of a moron.

    Not hiring smokers as a blanket policy may be stupid, because you may lose out on some really talented individuals. But using the fact that someone is a smoker as a strike against them, or as a balancing factor is really smart, because smokers DO take way more breaks than non-smokers, and I believe that it has been shown that they use more sick days, too.

  17. mantis says:

    Mantis – by all means, call out Sollum all you want for making a non-sensical argument. But trying to tie that in to all libertarians is rubbish.

    I read Reason. Nonsense libertarianism (is there another kind?) appears there all the time. Is there some other libertarian publication I should watch for the True Scotsmen?

    Not hiring smokers as a blanket policy may be stupid, because you may lose out on some really talented individuals. But using the fact that someone is a smoker as a strike against them, or as a balancing factor is really smart, because smokers DO take way more breaks than non-smokers, and I believe that it has been shown that they use more sick days, too.

    Let me note that I have zero problem with companies doing this. And this is coming from a smoker who, if told in a job interview that there would be urine tests for tobacco, would immediately thank them and walk out.

  18. Ben says:

    mantis – I’m not going to fall into that trap. The No True Scotsman fallacy is itself a fallacy Because there is NO such thing as a True Scotsman when it comes to politics. Different people may take a political philosophy and apply it (or not) to certain situations. Some of the writers at reason fail to apply the libertarian philosophy to their positions more than others. I consider myself a left-libertarian. Which means that I agree with the libertarian philosophy on some issues, and I deviate on others. But I don’t need a pundit to tell me what my position on something is supposed to be. Anyone should be able to read a basic explanation of what libertarianism is, and what the libertarian position probably would be. What you’re asking is for me to offer up a “Good Libertarian” so that you can then go look at his writings, and try to find a time that his position was not libertarian. Then you can just cross your arms and say, “See, Libertarians are frauds, and libertarianism is an inconsistent mess.” Well that’s BS. I like my political discussions to be a little more grown-up than that.

  19. mantis says:

    I didn’t ask you for a “good libertarian,” but rather a better place to find consistent “libertarianism” than Reason, if one exists.

    I consider myself a left-libertarian.

    I did too, once upon a time, until I realized that libertarianism is nonsense and that the term “liberal,” in the John Stuart Mill sense, was more than sufficient to describe my political philosophy. “Left-libertarians,” in my experience, are just conservatives who like to smoke pot and don’t care too much about what gay people do with their lives.

  20. Ben says:

    ““Left-libertarians,” in my experience, are just conservatives who like to smoke pot and don’t care too much about what gay people do with their lives.”

    That may be one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever heard in my life. There is very little about my views that one could consider “conservative.” When I say left-libertarian, that means that most of my break with the libertarian philosophy are towards the left, not the right.

  21. michael reynolds says:

    Libertarianism isn’t a political philosophy; it’s a late-night drunken, rambling diatribe engaged in by shallow naifs.

    Nicely written.

    I was very excited by the LP when it was first founded in 1971. Of course, I was born in 1954. So I was at just the right age for libertarianism. It’s a direct line from “You’re not the boss of me!” to “Hey, I didn’t ask to be born!” to “I’m a libertarian!”

    Then eventually you grow up.

  22. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug: why a lot of reasonably intelligent people think Libertarians and other large tracts of the Republican party are borderline crazy

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/keep-your-government-hands-off-my-government-programs/

    Read the links to Bob Bartlett’s couple of pieces of perfectly reasonable analysis. Trust me this is going to turn into a debacle for the GOP as the consequences of what they are proposing start to become public and are in any case DOA in the senate.

  23. I do think that Michael has pointed out something important: when it comes to voting, most libertarians put economics ahead of everything else. At least the ones who vote for Republicans do.

  24. I was very excited by the LP when it was first founded in 1971. Of course, I was born in 1954. So I was at just the right age for libertarianism. It’s a direct line from “You’re not the boss of me!” to “Hey, I didn’t ask to be born!” to “I’m a libertarian!”

    Brief reminder that Michael’s “You’re really a democrat in denial” stuff earlier was BS. The Democrats hate libertarians just as much as Republicans. It’s just that with the Republicans currently on the up side of the seesaw for the momment, it’s their turn to pretend they agree with us. Just like all the “liberaltarian” crap in 2006 and 2008, at soon as they get what they want, they’ll throw you under the bus again.

  25. No better on civil liberties? Please. Who ordered torture, and who ended it? Who voted against this latest extension of the Patriot Act?

    Haha, you think the torture actually ended. That so CUTE.

  26. michael reynolds says:

    Doug:

    Stormy is one of you.

    Think about what that means.

  27. No, I’m not a libertarian.

  28. michael reynolds says:

    Stormy:

    That’s very stand-up of you to take that bullet for Doug.

  29. Libertarianism is far too optimistic.

    I was a libertarian once, but around 2003-2004, I changed. I don’t really have a good term for what I think now. Maybe political absurdism? Who knows.

    Basically I think that any attempt to talk about ideas in politics results from a fundamtental misunderstanding of what politics is. It’s really just naked tribal loyalty with a truckload of BS trying to pretend it means something more.

  30. michael reynolds says:

    I agree it’s tribalism for a lot of people. Maybe most. But not me.

    I actually give a shit. I want people to be free, and I want them not to go hungry, and I think politics is about finding a path that accomplishes both those objectives. I often toss off jokes or one-liners about politics, and affect a glib attitude, but I still really do actually give a damn.

  31. I’m sure the marks playing three card monty really want to win money too.

  32. And for the record, I care too. I just believe my caring to be futile, hence the absurdism.

  33. SJ Reidhead says:

    Too bad libertarians don’t have the intellectual honest and courage to have their own version of CPAC. It’s not LPAC. It’s CPAC. While the fiscal values may merge in places, the the social values are NOT the same.

    SJR
    The Pink Flamingo

  34. george says:

    I’m not sure what a Libertarian is, and I suspect there’s no agreement anywhere on it. Which isn’t surprising, there’s lot’s of debate on what a true conservative is, and what a true progressive is – everyone wants to be pure, until its time to collect votes. Then they decide that the un-pure are really part of them after all … at least until they’ve finished voting.

    I’ve known self-described Libertarians who’ve voted from everything from the NDP in Canada (far to the left of the democrats in the US if you insist on a one dimensional physical spectrum) to the republicans in the US. It seems to depend upon which element they are focussed on – fiscal conservative or socially liberal.

    I don’t think either the democrats or the republicans are a natural home for Libertarians, and I suspect many go back and forth depending upon the current issues.