CPAC The Big Gay Careerist Conservative Future – The Awl

byAnaMarie?

Cox

Youcouldhaveattendedallofthespeechesbythe15orsopotentialpresidentialcandidateswhoappearedatthisyear’sConservativePoliticalActionConferenceandonlyhadtheslightestnotionthatanythingofnotewashappeninginEgypt。

Theyoungconservativesgatheredtherehavetheirownleaderlessrevolutiontofoment。

Thelong-timepresidentoftheAmericanConservativeUnion,whichsponsorsCPAC,steppeddownthedaybeforetheconferencebegantobecometheheadoftheNationalRifleAssociation。

AndtheCPACStrawPoll,thefirstofmanybasicallymeaninglesscontestsforallthose2012Republicanhopefuls,gaveattendeesabafflingarrayofcandidatestochoosefrom。

Therewasevenanot-very-enthusiasticwrite-incampaignforDonaldTrump?

—?

whoshowedupmostlytotrashRon?

Paul。

Paul,thegnomicTexasCongressmanwhohasalreadyledtwoquixoticpresidentialrunsasastaunchlibertarian,woundupwinningthepollwith30percent;MittRomneybroughtin23percentandafterthatthefieldsplitintodripsanddrabsof6percentandbelow。

Trump’stypicallybelligerentspeech?

—?

hewonderedifAmericawasbecoming“thelaughingstockoftheworld”?

—?

wonhimonepercent。

Notbad,consideringthewrite-incampaignwasaslightandhollowashishair。

ItstemmedentirelyfromhisacceptingtheinvitationofGOProud?

—?

anorganizationofgayconservativeswhoseinclusionattheconferenceisasourceofacontroversyoffargreaterinteresttoreportersthanmostattendees。

AttheGOProudbooth,theygaveoutblack-and-whiteXeroxedflyersaskingpeopletowrite-inTrump,butwerenotsoveryenthusiasticaboutit。

“Wedonotendorseanycandidacyorcampaign,”twosaid,almostinunison。

Whatabouttheflyers?

“Wewanthimtobeconsidered。



Theunassumingbooth,wheretheyalsopassoutstickersbearingtheslogan“Ourgaysaremoremachothantheirstraights,”isthereasonwhyasomeconservativegroups?

—?

includingtheHeritageFoundationandtheFamilyResearchCouncil?

—?

backedoutoftheeventratherthanshareoxygenwithopenhomosexuals。

Anticipationofawideopenandcontentious2012primarycontestballoonedattendanceofCPAC。

TheAmericanConservativeUnionatteststhattheyrecordedthelargestnumberofregisteredattendeesintheconference’snearly40-yearhistory:11,000“conservativeleadersandactivists。

”Mainstreamnewsoutletsarrivedinlargenumbersaswellthoughthetwogroupswereafterverydifferentthings。

Reporterssoughttealeavestoread(andTeaPartierstomock);thestudentswerelargelyconcernedwiththeircareers。

(Honestly,bothconstituencieswouldbebetterservedbytradinggoals。

)ReporterscrowdedaroundelectedofficialsandinterviewedtheguywalkingaroundinaRevolutionaryWarcostume。

Studentscrowdedintomeetingroomsforsessionssuchas“SecretstoLandingaConservativeJob,”“GettingStartedinHollywood,”and“BecomingaColumnist。



Thoughlargerthanever,andcertainlyattractingasmuchattentionasever,CPACin2011wascuriouslyunmoored。

Theexhibithallwasariotofcompetingideologies。

Therearenotone,nottwobutthreegroupsthatclaimedtosupport“liberty”:YoungAmericansforit,aCampaignforit,andStudentsforit。

Thelattertwoactuallyworkinconcert,whilethethirdeschewspoliticsinfavorofa“purelyphilosophical”agenda。

“Wedonotsupportanycandidate,campaignorparty,”therepresentativesaid,handingoutpamphletsonbecominga“StudentsforLiberty”campusleader。

Iaskwhataleaderwouldleadtoward,ifnotaspecificcampaign。

“You’dbealeaderforliberty。



Alotofexhibithallboothshadthesamebuoyantdirectionlessness。

Maybeconservativeshavebecomesogoodatco-optingthelanguageofgenericallygoodgoals?

—?

whocouldarguewiththetitularpremiseofAmericansforProsperity?

—?

thattheirmessagingstrategyhasfalleninonitself,relyingonaconservativeaudience’searforhiddenmeaningstosuchanextenttheyhavenohopeofreachinganyoneelse。

AfriendandI,asUniversityofChicagograduates,weredrawntothe“YouthforWesternCivilization”booth,forexample,thinkingmaybetoscoresomefreecopiesofTheIlliad,onlytodiscoverthat,asmyfriendputit,“Theydon’tmeanWesternCivilization”?

—?

withitsriotofcompetingphilosophiesandconstantlyevolvingdefinitionsoffreedom?

—?

“theymeanus,inthebuilding,right?

now。



GOProud’sboothwasjustaroundthecornerfrom“TheAmericanSocietyfortheDefenseofTradition,FamilyandProperty”?

—?

aCatholicorganizationthatfanciesitselfahomeformodern-dayCrusaders。

Itsrepresentativesworejauntyredcapesthataresomewhatatoddswiththeirliterature,whichcondemnedtheopeningupofCPACtothegaygroup。

Itisalsoanall-malegroup,withfantasycampsforboyswhereattendantsdressinthewhitetunicsofCrusadersandpracticearchery。

Askedifthereisn’tsomeconcernthataligningitselfwiththeCrusades?

—?

thePopehasapologizedforthem,afterall?

—?

arepresentativetoldmethattheCrusadesaremisunderstood:“Itwasadefensivewar。



TheTFPboysrecognizedthattheywerefightingadefensivewarthemselveswhenitcomestokeepingtheconservativeagendastaunchlyanti-gay,buttheirattitudetowardthebattleconformedtothemarketplace-of-ideascalculusthatimbuedtheevent:“Wewantedtomakeourvoice?

heard。



Forapartythathasplanteditsflagonthebacksofourarmedforces,talkofthewaronterroratCPACwaslimitedmainlytodiscussingincursionsonthehomefront。

EarlyonIwasaccostedbyaleafleteerdrummingupsupportfor“SecureAmericaNow,”amilitant-soundinggroupthatactually(thankfully?

)interpretsitsmandatemetaphorically:“WewanttoalertpeopletothreatstotheAmericanwayoflife。

”EventheappearanceofDonRumsfeldtoacceptanaward?

—?

andasurprisecameobyDickCheneytopresentit?

—?

madeforweirdlyparochialrhetoric。

AcontingentofthecrowdremindedeveryoneofwhatCheneyandRumsfeldleftunsaid:pro-RonPaulhecklersshouted“Warcriminal!

”andhadtobeescortedfromthe?

hall。

TheRonPaulcontingentwassoweirdly,asymmetricallypresentatCPACthatitdisturbedconferenceregulars。

Asoneco-sponsorsaid,“Idon’tknowwhattoexpectnextyear。

It’llbeadifferentconference。



Asforthisyear’sconference?

Theconservativemovementissodividedtheycan’tevendecidehowtodelegitimizeanelection。

“ThePaulpeopleboughtit,”saidaguyfromAmericansforTaxReformoftheStrawPoll。

Isn’tthatthepoint?

Youguysbelieveinafreemarket,right?

Andonabolishingcampaignfinancereform?

Hepaused。

“Youhaveapoint,”hesaid。

“Butthatdoesn’tmeanitmeansanything。



AnaMarieCoxisGQ’sWashingtoncorrespondent。

PhotobyMark?