Sunday, March 9, 2014

CPAC Wrap Up: "Act Worthy of Yourselves!"

Before I get on to my wrap up--please watch the video above.  One of the best conservatives in the world (can I designate that) Daniel Hannan of the UK reminds us of our place, and our responsibilities. I assure you, I was on my feet several times during this speech, cheering unabashedly. 

And so it is now Sunday morning, and I am warmly snug in the ManCave.  I left CPAC yesterday at mid-day and went home, but not before watching that magnificent speech above.  In fact, I stayed Friday night specifically for Hannan's speech, and it was the right decision.

Some random thoughts to close out this account, so that Captain Todd won't get on my butt for "leaving him hanging".

First, I am glad that I went to CPAC.  It was a good opportunity to hear the Presidential contenders in person, and while I'm really no closer to knowing who will eventually be the nominee, I am much closer to a sense of what that person is going to have to do to win the election.  See my review of Rick Santorum's speech the other day for insight.  Santorum's not the man, but he has provided the message.

Second, I have a hard time with CPAC offering the stage to Donald Trump and Sarah Palin.  I watched Trump's speech as one would watch the Tattooed Lady at the circus...with mix of amusement and revulsion.  I did not stay for Palin, who closed the convention for some unknown reason.  Listen--I don't want to get into Palin bashing, as it is something I've generally avoided.  And in August 2008, I was genuinely happy that she was chosen as the VP nom.  But in the meantime, she has done little to establish herself as a serious political thinker, and she quit her Governorship long before it was done which I find inexcusable.

Third, it wasn't until I attended CPAC that I got a real understanding of the history of the conservative movement in the US as a political force and how that history has been somewhat mangled and projected into a narrative that it simply does not sustain.  There is within CPAC and its governing body, the American Conservative Union, a narrative not unlike Mao's long march.  There is Buckley at Yale, the Sharon Statement, the rebuilding after Goldwater's crushing defeat, the slow buildup of the conservative movement in the 60's and 70's guided always by the titanic presence of Ronald Reagan, the insurgency of 1976 in which Reagan nearly defeated Ford, and then the consummation of their efforts with the election of Reagan in 1980 and his re-election in 1984.    So here I was, somewhat familiar with the general flow of that history but not its context, listening to movement conservatives talk about how "establishment" Republicans always lose, etc, and that when the Party nominates a true conservative, it wins.  And this is simply not true.  In fact, there has been only one "movement" conservative who has ever been the Republican nominee, and that was Reagan.  And while the conservative movement can rightly lay claim to his rise and election, they have were not successful before him or since, in electing a movement conservative to the White House.  No other movement conservative has even been NOMINATED as the standard bearer of the Republican Party.  Which leads me to conclude (and I am certainly not the first) that Reagan won NOT because he was a movement conservative, or because he was the most conservative guy running....but because he most effectively UNITED the Party's social, economic and national security conservatives AND he promoted a positive vision of the future to a nation desperately in need of one.  The path to the Presidency is NOT to be the most doctrinaire conservative--rather it is to bring together all the elements of the Republican Party under an effective message tuned to the times. 

I guess that's all for now.  If you have an opportunity, a trip to CPAC would be well worth your while. 

1 comment:

Mudge said...

Mr. Hannan is a gifted speaker with a superb message. It is also a Constitutional Conservative's message which is why it resonates so well. The problem we've had with our moderate nominees is that they have been unwilling to risk losing by proferring that message irrespective of the leftist polls and media pronouncements that doing so makes them right wing radicals. When it comes to the liberty of all men and women we should ALL be radicals. Why then can't men who were once willing to die for that platform (e.g. McCain) and truly competent and good men who I am confident believe in it (e.g. Romney) forcefully and confidently proclaim that message? I contend it is because too many establishment Republicans have bought into the notion that we need to sound more middle of the road to win self-(often mis-)-described moderate voters. If we don't show the conviction to our principles to the point of "no matter what" how can we expect the voters to recognize them as principles? Hell, why would anyone want to vote for party devoid of such principles? The Dems (now owned lock, stock and barrel by the Progressives) will lie, cheat and steal...and probably even kill for their principles, however misguided they may be, but at least there is no question about their convictions. You cannot win without your base and continuing to alienate your base is not a winning strategy, no matter what Lady David Brooks says about it. And Reagan united the party not because he morphed and pandered to each element, he united because he stood clearly and convictedly for conservative principles, foremost among them that there was nothing more precious to each American than his or her liberty.

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