CPAC: A Trip Back to the Future

It’s time to Break It Down!

While the Catholic Church Worldwide was busy in Rome, electing, welcoming, and confirming a new Pope Francis I, in case you managed to miss it, the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party was ensconced inWashington, DC, rallying around an impressive array of the reigning Right Wing Illuminati.  The list of invited conservative luminaries included Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum,Tim Scott, Mitt Romney, Allen West, Bobby Jindal, and Jeb Bush, to name just 10.  Conspicuous by his absence (and lack of an invitation), was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whom many view as the early odds-on favorite to claim the GOP nomination in 2016.

As the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convened in the nation’s Capital for its 40th Annual Confab, many observers noted a fairly active episode of trench warfare; nothing less than a battle for the soul of the Party.  And who is the opponent of record?  Believe it or not, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has staked itself out as the entity standing as the antithesis of CPAC.

In a freshly minted report commissioned by the RNC the narrative is framed such that it tears the CPAC/GOP-Tea Party a proverbial “new one.”   One characterization in the LA Timesasserts that the report “Reads like an anti-GOP critique from the“lame stream media.”  The report maintains the GOP, as currently constituted is:

  • Too rigidly ideological
  • Too enthralled with greedy corporations
  • Too disconnected from nonwhite and young voters
  • In desperate need of new ideas

The report was authored by a collection of folks straight out of the Bush faction of the Republican Party.  Prominent among them were Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s White House spokesman, Sally Bradshaw, a veteran advisor to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and RNC Committeeman Henry Barbour, nephew of Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi Governor and RNC Chairman, who worked on the Presidential  campaign of Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1988.  Completing the five-member group of authors are two additional RNC members, whose race and ethnicity make them atypical RepublicansGlenn McCall, an African American from South Carolina, andZori Fonalledas, a Latina from Puerto Rico.

In gathering input for the report, the 5-member panel solicited input from 50,000rank-and-file party members.  Information gathered from focus groups (composed of Republicans) indicate that a great many Americansperceive Republicans as:

  • Narrow-minded
  • Out of touch
  • Homophobic
  • Stuffy old white men
  • Interested only in the welfare of rich people
  • A turn-off to young voters
  • Disinterested in attracting minorities to the Party

In addition to these findings, the report also suggests a number of philosophical adjustments that “true conservatives” view as anathema.  For example, the report argues, “We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when CEO’s receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not has a meaningful raise in years.”

That rhetoric could easily be mistaken for a statement from the Democratic Party, oft described by conservatives as class warfare.”

It can be argued, however, that an even more highly charged position taken by the report is the endorsement of comprehensive immigration reform.  In DC,CPAC heard right-wing commentator Ann Coulter blasted the report, insisting that immigration reform equates to amnesty, and amounts to political suicide for the GOP. She claimed, “If amnesty goes through, America becomes California and no Republican will ever win another national election.”

In its heated reaction, CPAC provided a vivid example of the fevered, insular mindset that the RNC committee sees as a huge problem for the party.

The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the report opines.  The writers went on to say, “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.

Ironically, while the RNC is saying let us open the doors to new people and new ideas, a litany ofCPAC speakers was composed almost entirely of insular ideologues, gay-bashers, gun fetishists, religious fundamentalists, birth control foes, and devotees of wacky conspiracy theoriesCPACheadliners such as Sara Palin, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Allen West, Donald Trump, and the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre do not represent a new direction for the GOP.  They represent exactly what the RNC is warning against; “CPAC: A Trip Back to the Future.”  Have no doubt; there is a battle afoot for the soul of the GOP.

I’m done; holla back!

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