CPAC and the Future of the GOP

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 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.

9 thoughts on “CPAC and the Future of the GOP

  1. At least 50 years ago traditionalists were given a seat at the table and had a platform to make their points. I loathe the crude fusionist synthesis that resulted, but it seemed to work well enough during the Cold War. But now that alliance is dead and gone. So be it. Fusionism was more about “liberty” than it was about tradition, virtue or goodness.

    Libertarians are hysterically delusional if they think the tide of history is on their side. Rand Paul and Freedomworks talking points are not going to resonate with the young unemployed millennials, with women, with Blacks and Hispanics. Nor will it resonate with working class whites in moderate blue states like Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio-where those votes are critical.

    Within the decade Texas will be a swing state and then its all over.

  2. Its not just the beltway libertarians either. For the last few cpacs Ron Paul bused in legions of paulbots who booed anti-SSM speakers.

  3. “Libertarianism is about the only coherent ideology which justifies what corporate America wants: free trade, high immigration, low taxes, and little regulation.”

    This is quite insightful and shows why Libertarianism is not in any way Conservative, let alone Traditionalist.

    Mark Moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog – A Traditional Conservative Future

  4. Why are principled libertarians caring about Social Security and Medicare benefits in the first place?
    Or is it just a bait towards voters?

  5. I generally agree with the spirit of the post, however this isn’t quite right:

    “what corporate America wants: free trade, high immigration, low taxes, and little regulation”

    Corporate America wants the selective use of trade barriers, taxes, and regulation to protect themselves from competition.

  6. Would you be willing to give a definition of the difference between left libertarians and right libertarians? An internet source which you trust for the definition of the two groups might be a more convenient alternative.

    • Sure. I am being characteristically imprecise. You can read definitions of left libertarian and right libertarian on Wikipedia. Those definitions are a little old-fashioned now: they focus on property and contract and represent the fight between the old right and the old left.

      What I am referring to is the tendency of one group of libertarians to embrace Cultural Marxism (or, if you prefer, social liberalism). So, some libertarians are anti-racism, anti-sexism, pro-abortion, pro-gay-rights, and etc. These guys also tend to go in for the leftoid shaming tactics on these issues. I’m calling them left libertarians. Other libertarians take the other side of these issues, or are at least much more restrained on them. Guys like Murray Rothbard were fairly culturally conservative, for example, as this wikipedia article briefly describes.

      On race, a left libertarian might talk a lot about how free markets limit racism by making racists pay for their preferences or false stereotypes and about how government power enables racism by shielding favored industries and individuals from paying these costs. A right libertarian might talk a lot about how the government should not interfere with freedom of association, about how if a business owner wants to discriminate against blacks, he should be permitted to.

      If you like Tom Sowell, left libertarians tend towards the unconstrained vision while right libertarians tend towards the constrained vision.

      Sorry about the tardiness of my reply.


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