CPAC: A Star Trek Convention for Political Geeks?
Is CPAC an important event, or just a con for cons?
Recognizing that the headline may annoy some folks, let me start off by pointing out I like scifi cons and geeks. I will confess to having attended a huge Star Trek convention in Los Angeles many years ago and have been in to other sci cons. Further, I consider myself a bona fide geek as well as a political geek.
All disclaimers aside, let’s get to the topic at hand: CPAC. The inspiration for this post is paying some attention to the ongoing debates over who is attending CPAC and who isn’t (and why, or speculations as to why) as well as the whole GOPROUD bit (for example, see here). The whole thing just seems rather juvenile.
The Star Trek Convention comparison, disclaimers about my affections aside, is to underscore that I am not so convinced that CPAC should be treated as some sort of Serious Event that will set the course for the conservative moment. To be clear, I feel the same way about meetings like Netroot Nation or whatever other ideologically-based gathering of this sort one can think of. Ultimately these types of meetings allow like minded people to gather for an event that is as much social as it is anything else. One gets to see friends and acquaintances that one might otherwise not get to see as well as to encounter celebrities (at least as defined by the specific group), peruse merchandise of especial enticement to the group, and to hear talks on issues of interest. Yes, it is possible that attendees will learn something new, but on balance these types of things tend to be more pep rally than education events.
All of this is just fine, but the fact that so many people are taking an event like CPAC so seriously strikes me as yet another example of the problem of the conservative movement at the moment. Just as it treats talk radio and cable new hosts as if they are intellectual guides of the movement (rather than entertainers) many are treating CPAC as a serious gathering of thinkers (rather than a combo social gathering and pep rally).
Nothing wrong with pep rallies or social gatherings, but let’s treat things for what they are. The seemingly yearly treatment of CPAC as if it is profoundly important is a bit farcical. I just wonder if it isn’t s symptom of a broader set of problems for conservatives.
Really, do most conservatives even know what CPAC is or even care what happens at the event?