Evidently, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual gathering of America’s conservative activists, just finished its annual convention outside Washington, DC. James Kirkpatrick wrote two interesting articles for Vdare.com here and here. Given Vdare’s bailiwick, the two articles are mostly about immigration and, thus, about the ongoing treason by “movement conservatism” against its rank-and-file supporters.
The articles discuss two related changes over time at CPAC. First, the conference is increasingly overtly in service of its corporate sponsors. Second, the conference is evidently being gradually taken over by left-libertarian ideologues of what sounds like the Brink Lindsey type.
Clearly, these are not unrelated occurrences. Libertarianism is about the only coherent ideology which justifies what corporate America wants: free trade, high immigration, low taxes, and little regulation. Thus, to the extent that movement conservatism adopts the policy goals of its corporate masters and also wants to present itself as “principled,” it is going to be libertarian. Furthermore, given the impossibility of presenting oneself as racist, it has to be left rather than right libertarian. But this has serious knock-on costs for the GOP and for movement conservatism. Left libertarians are a quite unpopular and unattractive bunch of people:
The young libertarians who are taking over CPAC have open disdain [for] most older members of the “movement,” loudly sneering and hissing during speeches by Rick Santorum and rolling their eyes at the antics of Sarah Palin and the like.
Not only are they callow and rude, but their ideas are toxic: libertarianism is unpopular, and leftoid, anti-racist libertarianism is a position which seems not to be held by anyone outside beltway think tanks. Going forward, this has to affect the GOP’s electoral prospects:
The kind of implicit whiteness that the Beltway Right has depended on won’t work much longer, because many young movement activists believe they have no attachment to anything but a Politically Correct abstract code of “liberty.” This is paradoxical, of course, because the Paul movement is itself implicitly white.
A sole exception to the general corporate slickness was Ann Coulter, who helpfully spelled out the dimensions of the treason on offer:
She mocked those “conservatives” and “libertarians” who say we need mass immigration to make sure Social Security and Medicare stay solvent. She speculated that a largely nonwhite America in the future—thanks to mass immigration—will not be eager to make sure that old white people are getting their Social Security and Medicare benefits paid . . .
[The rank-and-file, middle American CPAC attendees] seem genuinely bewildered that other groups (i.e., most blacks, most white urban liberals, many Hispanics, and many Asians) do not agree with them. This audience seemed never to have considered that demographic change could challenge the political climate they took for granted. The concept that this new nonwhite America may not be willing to take care of them in retirement seemed deeply unsettling to them.
Though it seems unlikely that CPAC will continue to allow Coulter to provide these dissenting notes, it does not seem unlikely that middle America will get the message. This is a real problem for Republicans. Every four years, Republicans have to win about one percent more of the white vote to make up for the ongoing demographic change in the US. The whites they currently need to attract are the whites they missed out on in the 2012 election. These are the remaining blue-collar, pro-union types in the Midwest, especially the Upper Midwest—people who decided to vote for the empty suit over the corporate raider. They are not getting these people by doubling down on glibertarianism, anti-whitism, and immigration.
I begin to doubt that they have a plan.