9:00 A.M. For those of you not familiar with it, “CPAC” stands for Conservative Political Action Conference, an event that was launched in 1973 by Young Americans for Freedom and the American Conservative Union, two organizations that were both founded by William F. Buckley. The original purpose was to bring the conservative movement together and set an agenda. It’s also an interesting gauge of who is in and who is out: in 2011, for example The John Birch Society (which still exists) was a cosponsor in 2011, as was GOProud, the first LGBT group to have that role.
By 2012 the Birchers (as my mother used to call them) and GOProud were out, but a special guest from 2011, Donald Trump, who had been asked to address the General Session, was very, very in. In 2016, the gays were back in — this time it was the Log Cabin Republican, plus an invitation to gay provocatuer Milo Yiannopoulos, who was then promptly disinvitedwhen a YouTube video that everybody apparently knew about, in which Milo cheerfully discussed his childhood affair with a Catholic priest, was reposted by a conservative aggregator site called The Reagan Battalion. Talk about a place where left and right came together: Milo was roundly trashed as having promoted pedophilia, and embarrassing the entire gay community, which I thought was dumb, because that isn’t what he said. But talking about sex has never been a strength of the American people.
This year there are no LGBT sponsors, although Log Cabin Republicans is listed as an exhibitor. I will visit them, I promise.
However, the NRA is a sponsor this year, as are many of the organizations you would expect: the Heritage Foundation, Young America’s Foundation (the rebranded Young Americans for Freedom), The Republican National Committee, and Turning Point USA, to name a few big ones. But the biggest sponsor is Liberty Health Share, “a community of health-conscious people who practice longstanding Christian principles in sharing healthcare costs.” Liberty Health Share, the website assures you, “is not insurance. It simply unites like-minded people to share medical costs together.”
Not an insurance company? No, really, it isn’t an insurance company: it’s a mutual aid society that you can’t join if you smoke or are an addict or don’t treat your body as a temple. For $150 a month, the company will, among other things, assign you a coach to help you reverse chronic diseases through “lifestyle changes, dedication and determination.” This is the kind of thing I hope to learn more about: is this a scam run by a latter day Elmer Gantry, or is it really a health care company designed on principles of Christian faith and conservative personal responsibility? And more intriguingly, is this part of what has been at stake all along in the battle against Obamacare? I’ll tell you more when I meet them.
OK: stay tuned. I am still in transit to the meeting hall and haven’t got my credentials yet, so I will miss the first panel (“An Affair to Remember: How the Far Left and the Mainstream Media Got in Bed Together”) and probably the second (“Do Not Pass Go! How the Government is Killing Capitalism”) but am hoping to be in place for Veep Mike Pence at 10:35. The most controversial speaker today is Marion Maréchal-Le Pen of France’s National Front. You can read about why some conservatives are upset about it in this article by Bill Wirtz of The American Conservative (February 21 2018).
For the rest of this live blog, originally posted at Public Seminar on February 22 2018, go here.