At least half a dozen groups have announced they will not attend the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) next month, which will attract thousands of activists to Washington and feature most of the Republican hopefuls for the party's 2012 presidential nomination.
They have objected to the status of GOProud as a co-sponsor of the event, though the group does not advocate actively for gay marriage, believing it is an issue that should be resolved by states and not the federal government. GOProud, whose name is derived from the Republican Party's nickname Grand Old Party, did however strongly support the recent repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy on military recruitment of gay people.
"The baseline reason is that homosexuality is not a conservative value," said Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. "It's the conservative Pac, not the libertarian Pac."
Brent Bozell, head of the Media Research Centre, which tracks liberal bias in the mainstream media, said: "We've been there 25 years, since our inception. To bring in a 'gay' group is a direct attack on social conservatives, and I can't participate in that."
The Family Research Council, which has participated in the conference for several years, said in a statement: "Organizations whose whole reason for existence is to promote the forced public affirmation of homosexual conduct should not be welcomed at Cpac, because that is not by any stretch of the imagination a 'conservative' agenda."
I have a lot of trouble with the Republican Party as currently incarnated. I don't like their rumblings about balancing the budget but curious silence when asked what they'd cut. I don't care for their jingoism or their unblinking defense of the excesses of the last president. I'm not entirely sure I believe that racism isn't a factor in their current obsession with immigration.
However, there is a lot to be said for conservatism, for skepticism that government intervention is the broad-spectrum cure to society's ills. For individual and market freedom within reasonable restraints. For limits in the size and scope of government power. Principled conservatism is a valuable part of our civic discourse, and I would sincerely love to see its return to political prominence.
But I will probably never make my way toward a party that embraces the likes of the FRC, AFA, CWA, blah blah blah. They hate me, and I hate them. They still have way too much power over the Republican Party, and as long as that's the case then count me out. There is little common ground between me and people who think their interpretation of their holy writ gives them license to tell anyone else how to live. No dice.
So any daylight between them and the GOP power structure is dandy with me. Doubtless all the 2012 hopefuls will attend the Values Voters Summit and kowtow to the assembled masses, so I don't expect any changes to occur within the near future. But the sooner cracks appear between the social conservatives and the rest of the conservative movement, the better for the country.