Shopping Cart Conservatism At CPAC

Derek Pugh

Just as Liberals have time honored pilgrimages, such as the annual march on Washington, so do conservatives. Last week, thousands of conservative activist and nearly a dozen possible 2016 Republican candidates gathered in Washington to attend the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Speakers included top tea party darlings and leaders of anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-environmental organizations. The speakers spouted incorrect facts, and their credulous followers championed and praised every single word.

Friday’s first panel, entitled How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Plastic Water Bottles, Fracking, Genetically Modified Food, & Big Gulp Sodas, focused on Americas  “apparent” obsession with alarmism. Angela Logomasini, at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, proudly stated that there is “no evidence of BPA” being a health hazard. Wrong. She also went on to advocate for the use of more plastic bags and bottled water. Following suit was Julie Gunlock from Independent Women’s Forum, who declared that “it is true we have gotten bigger” but that obesity is not a threat to the country’s health. Really?

The last “credible speaker” on the panel, Jillian Melchior at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, focused on the issue of fracking. She stated that fracking is a “positive environmental” practice and that it really does not contaminate ground water. The session ended with the moderator saying that alarmism is none other than an “effective weapon for proponents of big government,” and that conservatives need to “bring back freedom to our people.”

It’s odd that when it comes to topics like health, the environment, and consumer spending, Americans are too alarmist; yet when it comes to the military, conservatives believe that Americans can never be worried enough. This panel was a prime example of how the conservative and tea party movement is nothing more than a front for corporations, the wealthy, and those who wish to strangle the government.

The next words of wisdom came from none other than Rick Santorum. Santorum, like always, advocated for good old fashioned values, saying that “our culture and political leadership have robbed” conservatives and “transformed the American dream.” “Face it,” he continued, “the left can always promise more stuff,” but conservatives can’t “abandon their moral underpinnings.” Santorum ended by urging the crowd to “fight for the principles that made this country great and fight for those suffering.” Foster Friess, this year’s recipient of the ACU Award for Conservative Philanthropy, summed up those principles: “Chick Fil-A values are American values.”

What’s most bothersome is that Santorum ties fundamental Christian beliefs, morality, and American values to the conservative movement. First off, conservative policies do nothing for “those suffering” and only further drive inequity, which increases suffering. Wasn’t Jesus a man of the People, who believed in caring for the sick, elderly, and infirmed? Conservative fiscal policy does none of those, and only cuts health care, education, and Social Security for millions of hardworking Americans. The sequester, and the weakening of government, will literally cost lives due to cuts in vital programs.

Second, the conservative movement cares nothing for equality, and seeks to revert back to the heteronormativity of the 1950′s.  If Santorum really believes his pious preaching, then he and every other conservative should re-read the Bible. Maybe they’ll begin to understand that they are not practicing what they preach.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney was a keynote speaker this year. But before Romney took the stage, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, proudly stated that SC was able to pass voter ID laws, and that as long as she is governor SC will not expand Medicaid: “And now they’re telling us we have to bust our budget and expand Medicaid. Not in South Carolina.” The crowd, of course, went wild. Again, shouldn’t a public servant be advocating for those with the least, instead of boasting about denying the neediest access to health care?

Romney, ironically, gave tips on how conservatives can win, advising them to “learn lessons from our success stories: the 30 Republican Governors.” Romney added: “Applaud the clear and convincing voice of my friend Paul Ryan.” The fact hat Romney actually believes that Ryan is clear or convincing to anyone except the far Right is a joke. Or it should have been. Romney ended, saying “I am sorry I won’t be your president.” We aren’t.

What would a conservative conference be without the anti-choicers? Probably smaller. The moderator introducing the panel on Roe vs. Wade began by saying “40 years ago the Supreme Court made one of the worst decisions ever.” This, to conservative minds, is an example of “raw, out of control federal power.” Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the Susan B. Anthony List, even equated abortion to slavery.

The fact that conservatives at CPAC want the government to stay out of their shopping carts because it violates their personal freedom, yet champion government control of every uterus in the U.S. is mindboggling.

The combination of idiotology is astounding, and the hypocrisy of the conservative party is unparalleled. The whole event would actually be quite humorous, except for the fact that conservatives in Congress habitually hold our economy and democratic process hostage.

 

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