Twenty years ago, when I was a college student getting interested in conservative politics, the Right was going through a “crack-up” [™R. Emmett Tyrrell] after the demise of Communism and the then-recent defeat of George H.W. Bush. This was disrupting the conservative coalition that had existed for roughly two decades.
Books such as David Frum’s Dead Right and Paul Gottfried’s The Conservative Movement examined the various factions of the right and laid out what they stood for. Personally, I wasn’t drawn to conservatism because of the flat tax or missile defense systems. Instead, I was living in an extremely anti-white PC environment at my liberal college and was looking to join a resistance movement.
Needless to say, I identified with the paleoconservative wing of conservatism as exemplified by Sam Francis, Pat Buchanan, Jared Taylor, Paul Gottfried and the writers gathered around Chronicles magazine. These hard men spoke truth to power on issues of race and had no desire to make peace with those who supported Affirmative Action, multiculturalism and other anti-white trends.
Of course, the paleos lost—but not before giving the GOP and the Conservative Establishment a scare with the presidential campaigns of Buchanan and the intellectual firepower of the Chronicles crowd and sympathetic journalists such as Joe Sobran and Peter Brimelow (then still with National Review).
Republicans and Establishment Conservatives have long since given up any pretense of opposition to Affirmative Action and multiculturalism—let alone immigration. Indeed, they are often now on the wrong side of these issues. Thus all their current presidential contenders for 2016—Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush—support Amnesty.
Needless to say, folding like origami on these issues has not helped the GOP win elections. Nor has it prevented a further rift within the dwindling number of those who still call themselves conservative.
The 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) will be held March 14-16 in the Washington D.C. area. Those who cannot attend will miss out on seeing a Who’s Who of Amnesty supporters like Rubio, Paul and Bush along with conservative heavyweights such as Francesca Chambers, Chelsi Henry and T.W. Shannon.
Who? I’ve never heard of the last three either. But they are black—so, of course, they are featured speakers at CPAC. Presumably, they are there to hector white College Republican types during the panels on how to attract minority voters and “A Roundtable Discussion on The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y.”
But the main buzz around this year’s CPAC is the exclusion of GOProud, a gay Republican group that had exhibited at past CPACs (and, according to one person I know who attended, was harassing gay marriage opponents).
This caused MSNBC’s token Republican, S.E. Cupp [Twitter] to publicly boycott the event. Another house conservative, Jennifer Rubin [email her]of the Washington Post, cheered her on, citing Cupp’s “political courage.” CPAC damages itself and the GOP, February 27, 2013
Yet real courage would be challenging the opinions and views of their leftist employers. Attacking supposedly fellow conservatives will only enhance the job security of these two specimens of what Sam Francis called “the harmless persuasion.”
Not to be outdone, National Review Online posted several columns attacking CPAC’s decision to exclude GOProud, and also a perhaps-related move to not invite New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. In a conclusive demonstration that NR is no longer in any sense a Catholic magazine, an editorial titled “CPAC’s Empty Chairs” proclaimed:
Conservative opinion on the intersection of homosexuality and politics is not monolithic, especially among the college-aged set that makes up the better part of CPAC attendees. And a gathering that hopes to speak for the conservative movement will be better equipped to do so if it represents the overlapping gamut of views included in it.
Jonah Goldberg chimed in, criticizing CPAC for acting as a “border guard” and for “shrinking the borders of conservatism.”
Heck, I’d like to hear debates on pretty much any and every issue dividing factions on the right, including gay rights. But CPAC has declared that gay groups can’t even set up a booth this year. It’s one thing to hold firm to your principles on traditional marriage; it’s quite another to say that dissenting gay groups — that is, conservative gay groups — can’t officially hand out fliers on the premises (as they were allowed to in the past).
CPAC, the Border Guard | As the borders of the conservative movement shrink, CPAC should be acting instead more like a tourist board., By Jonah Goldberg, March 1, 2013
National Review’s concern for dissenters and for “an overlapping gamut of views” is touching. But it would have carried more weight had they spoken up for the Council of Conservative Citizens—an activist group for whites—when it was barred from attending CPAC in 1998, despite exhibiting for several years without incident.
The conservative crack-up is not limited to writers and activists. Liberal Republicans in Virginia are pushing an “Independent Republican” third party bid against conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who will be the Republican nominee for governor in 2013. This would effectively scuttle any chance the GOP has of winning the race. In addition to being pro-life, pro gun and anti-gay marriage, Cuccinelli is solid on immigration. [Bill Bolling close to an independent run, by Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, February 28, 2013]
Karl Rove’s new and paradoxically-named “Conservative Victory Project” is also targeting conservative Republicans in favor of centrist and liberal ones who supposedly are more electable. In practice, this means recruiting more non-white candidates over white ones. According to Rove:
"We need to be asking for votes in the most powerful way possible, which is to have people asking for the vote who are comfortable and look like and sound like the people that we're asking for the vote from.” Rove: GOP needs candidates who reflect diversity, By Laura Olson, Associated Press, March 2, 2013
But where does all this leave conservatives who used to identify with the paleoconservatives and Buchanan Brigades?
On a personal level, I don’t much care whether GOProud is allowed to exhibit at CPAC. I have long advocated a “Pete Wilson” type strategy for Republicans whereby they take a more libertarian stance on issues like abortion and gay marriage while standing up for the interests of whites and generic Americans on issues like Affirmative Action, immigration, multiculturalism, bilingual education and the like.
But whether GOProud is at CPAC or not, the plain fact is conservatives and Republicans are simply not going to address the “National Question”—where they have not actually come out on the wrong side of the issue.
Cardenas also gave an interview to Spanish-language network Telemundo in which he stated that the official position of the ACU is to support amnesty and that he intends to stress the issue at this year’s conference:
We have to ensure that those who will help this country have immediate access to residency and citizenship, and these 11 million people have to come out of the shadows. We have to give them a legal status where they can be secure in this country for their future and that of their children. American Conservative Union Chair: Legalize Illegal Aliens, By Michael W. Chapman, CNS News, March 4, 2013
In earlier years, CPAC managers at least allowed some critics of immigration to speak. But this year, the only immigration panel at CPAC is titled “Respecting Families and the Rule of Law: A Lasting Immigration Policy.” It features five panelists—all of whom promote amnesty. Center For Immigration Studies head Mark Krikorian, NRO’s immigration beard, who has spent years triangulating against other immigration patriots to ensure his own Beltway respectability, has protested plaintively at this abolition of the post of token immigration critic.
It’s also worth noting that CPAC also excluded Islam critic Pamela Geller, who spoke to standing room only crowds at previous CPAC meetings. (CPAC’s sensitivity to Islam is weird and is often attributed to Grover Norquist’s marriage to a Muslim) National Review has only devoted one brief post (from Mark Steyn) to this further Politically Correct slight.
Conservative Inc. factions bickering with each other over gay marriage, abortion, gun rights, Obamacare and almost every other issue has the feel of a poker game on the Titanic. The demographic shift unleashed over the last 40 years by massive immigration—legal and illegal—is on course to crush Republicans and conservatives utterly.
Of course, paleoconservative writers have been warning about this since the 1980s. But Conservatism Inc. has done nothing to stop or even slow the invasion. The typical response is the following from Mitt Romney,
One million immigrants legally enter America every year—the largest number of any country in the world. I like that.
Romney tells Hispanics he’ll fix the economy and immigration, By Holly Bailey, Yahoo! News, September 17, 2012
And this is the guy GOP insiders are blaming for being “too extreme” and “anti-immigrant”!
Caving on Amnesty, gun rights and gay marriage is not going to suddenly make non-whites like the GOP and support low taxes and small government. But whether conservatism ends up in the image of a pro-gay marriage Jennifer Rubin or an anti-gay marriage Al Cardenas is irrelevant. Thanks to demographics, it will lose either way.
For immigration patriots, the way forward is now particularly unclear. What is clear, however, is that, like true conservatives of the old school, they have no dog in this quintessential Beltway brouhaha.
Peter Bradley (email him) writes from Washington D.C.