Derek Hunter

I’d prefer a world where people could refuse to bake cakes or refuse service to anyone for any reason, and people are free to publicize the hell out of it. I wouldn’t patronize places that refused to serve people based on their skin color, sexual orientation or political beliefs, but that’s just me. I have more faith in the market than the courts to handle issues like this. But the courts are where cases like this end up if you’re not smart about it. So take their money, and tell them you’re going to give it to your church. And if they still want the cake, bake it. But keep government out of it.

The Conservative Political Action Conference is next week, and it wouldn’t be CPAC were there not some media frenzy over some group excluded or included. It’s usually GOProud, the gay conservative group that is, according to the media, banned from getting a booth at CPAC.

Whether this is true is a matter for debate. I’ve been told by someone in a position to know that, at least three years ago, GOProud didn’t have enough money to sponsor and get a booth. Considering the two founders of GOProud left the group recently, and that top officers of groups rarely leave organizations that are flush with cash, I think this may be a factor.

When was the last time you’ve heard of GOProud outside of a story about CPAC? That’s not to say it couldn’t have been a productive, helpful group, it’s just to say it hasn’t been.

That’s also not to say that CPAC couldn’t have handled it better.

CPAC should be what it was started to be – a conference for conservatives of all stripes to get together and network. There are national security conservatives, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, people for whom abortion is their top issue and people for whom abortion doesn’t make their top 10. And yes, there are gay conservatives. There should be a simple requirement for sponsorship – your group is some sort of conservative.

Having gay conservatives doesn’t mean you have to “accept” the gay lifestyle any more than having religious conservatives means you have to adhere to the Bible to participate. Donald Trump, who’s been married three times and had donated a lot of money to very liberal Democrats over the years, is a speaker again this year, for crying out loud.

On Tuesday there was even more controversy about CPAC when word broke that American Atheists, whose name pretty much sums up what the group is about, would be welcomed to CPAC and have its own booth. Its conservative bona fides? None. Literally none. Group leaders said they wanted to be there to reach out to atheists who happened to be conservative, or so they say. I suspect they wanted to be there to “see what happens,” but who really cares?

Soon after the news broke, CPAC reversed itself and announced the group no longer was welcome. It never should have been allowed in the first place. Not because it’s a group of atheists, but because it’s not conservative. It doesn’t advocate for anything expressly conservative; it just wants to be provocative. This is CPAC, not ProvocativePAC. But this bungle gave the media fodder to make CPAC and conservatives look stupid.

My faith, and I would hope this goes for anyone else with faith in anything, isn’t threatened by someone else not sharing it. I’m no sooner going to turn into a secular progressive simply because my best friend is one any more than I am to “turn gay” because my oldest friend happens to be. How CPAC was caught off guard by this, and is nearly every year, remains a mystery.

It’s pretty simple: Have a set of criteria – that a group be conservative on some issue (national defense, social issues, fiscal issues, whatever) and, if you’ve got the money, you’re in. If you want to win elections, which should be the point, no one of those groups is going to carry the day on their own. They need each other.

As CPAC approaches, it’s important to remember and take heed from the words of President Ronald Reagan, who said, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.” Conservatives are on the verge of major potential victory in November, if they could remember that, stop pointless infighting and stop being so damn stupid.

Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.