To all outward appearances, the just-concluded Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was a huge success. It was attended by a large, boisterous crowd, a substantial part of which was student-age - a promising indicator of the movement’s appeal to the coming generation. A number of luminaries, including several prospective presidential candidates, addressed enthusiastic audiences clearly invigorated by November’s successes at the polls.
CPAC’s apparent vigor, however, obscured the fact that the conservative movement is at a crossroads: Will it continue to be comprised of, and appeal to, all three elements of Ronald Reagan’s winning coalition - fiscal discipline, traditional family and other social values, and a national security approach rooted in the philosophy of “peace through strength”? Or will it be reduced to a libertarian-dominated, small-government agenda that ignores or repudiates Reagan’s conservative values and robust defense platform?
Upon the answer rests not only the future of this vital movement, but of America. For if conservatives get this strategic question wrong, they not only are unlikely to enjoy the support of the electorate come 2012. They will not deserve that support.
Unfortunately, the evidence that libertarian impulses were ascendant at CPAC was not only to be found in the straw poll victory of their exemplar, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. It was also apparent in who was - and who was not - participating as sponsors of the conference and/or some of its events.
The former included GOProud, Muslims for America and the so-called “Conservative Inclusion Coalition” - organizations that, in the name of “inclusiveness,” are insinuating into the conservative movement individuals and initiatives that are divisive and anathema to many who hew to Ronald Reagan’s beliefs and policies. Such sponsors include: aggressive promoters of the anti-family and pro-homosexual agenda; advocates for gambling, open borders, amnesty for illegal aliens and legalization of addictive drugs; champions of gutting the defense budget and immediately withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq; and people associated with Muslim Brotherhood front organizations and agendas.
For example, at a panel sponsored by the Conservative Inclusion Coalition, a panelist even expressed enthusiasm for reaching out to the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan’s notoriously anti-Semitic and increasingly radical Islamist organization.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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