CPAC Emblematic Of Why Conservatives Are Perceived As Uncaring

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CPAC2013Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein hits the nail on the head in his column entitled CPAC emblematic of why conservatives lost health care debate:

If you want to understand why proponents of limited government keep losing the health care debate, look no further than this year’s upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference.

Over the past several years, as the debate over President Obama’s national health care law was raging, the largest annual gathering of conservatives held regular panel discussions on the topic. Not this year. Laura Rigas, a spokeswoman for the American Conservative Union (which runs CPAC), confirmed to me that although “health care and the associated budget-busting costs at the federal and state level will be addressed in a number of panels,” there would be no panel dedicated exclusively to the health care issue.

“Obamacare was obviously huge over the past couple of years, but Obamacare is done,” Rigas explained.

Done. It’s precisely this attitude — by no means exclusive to CPAC — that has crippled the advancement of conservative health care solutions for decades.

Klein correctly asserts that CPAC is ”a reflection of the pulse of the conservative movement.” This year CPAC has no panel discussion on Obamacare or healthcare, a hot issue in the past few years. After the recent healthcare debate reached its climax when the Supreme Court wrongfully declared Obamacare constitutional, it appears conservatives have reverted to a pre-Obamacare state. After losing a fight as big as that, you would think a lesson would have been learned. But, as Klein also noted, conservatives only seem care about healthcare when Democrats are actively attempting to “do something” about it. Such an attitude is disheartening because it means the next healthcare fight may have already been lost. It also means conservatives are always on the defensive with healthcare.

Healthcare isn’t the only panel discussion CPAC is missing. I, too, examined the CPAC 2013 schedule and there are exactly zero panel discussions on poverty, charity, welfare, or community involvement – all of which are important issues to a majority of Americans. I did not check past CPAC schedules, but it is a safe bet the results are similar. Considering the level of disinterest in these crucial topics, Conservatives should not be surprised we are perceived as uncaring by most of America. We only seem to care when the left attempts to make a radical change that will push America in the worst direction. I emphatically believe conservatives do care about these topics, but we have some comfort zone expansion to do.

If the right is to have any hope of becoming a permanent majority, we must learn to enthusiastically embrace issues outside of our comfort zone. These issues we’re ignoring are just waiting to have conservative principles applied to them We need social entrepreneurs seeking and finding solutions. If we do the leg work and show we care, we will win the hearts of the people and the confidence to enact those solutions.

  • Don

    Ben – as a liberal who has never been to this page, I must say I really liked what you said here. I often tell my friends that conservatives often have great ideas and we should not discount them just because they are not from our tribe.

    But my conservative friends really do have something against poor people. They treat being poor as a PURE morality play. If you are poor, you are a jerk. And they are absolutely clear about it. For them, being poor is because “you have not worked enough” or “you took drugs” or something like that.

    I think the 47% remark really underlies much of the conservative thought. And what was even more weird about that was that a part of the 47 percenters were poor people taking advantage of the EITC which deep roots in conservative ideology.

    Think about it. You create a policy that creates an incentive for poor people to work (which I am not sure that most poor people do NOT want to work – but another discussion for another day). It works exactly as planned. And then you punch them in the mouth for doing what you told them to do.

    It is like punching poor people is a hobby for conservatives.

    • Ben Grivno

      Thanks for your kind words, Don.

      Sounds like you’re seeing a lack of empathy for the poor among the conservatives that you know, but I don’t think it’s a lack of empathy. I suspect your friends are feeling resentment toward a system whose main purpose is to take their money and “give” it to the poor, who are given no real self-improvement incentive in exchange. Their anger at the poor, while understandable, is misplaced. They should be resenting all the politicians who thought it was a great idea to implement a “progressive” system that breeds strife and is a lose-lose situation for everyone except the politicians. The “better-off” lose because their money is taken and they have little say as to how it is used. The poor? As they become increasingly dependent on the system, the poor lose their sense of self-worth, dignity, and the freedom to vote for someone other than the politician who is putting food on their table. I take every opportunity to remind conservatives the poor are getting a raw deal too and don’t deserve their scorn. We must figure out a way to offload charity from the government to the private nonprofit sector before our nation becomes so divided we turn on each other.

  • Pingback: Conservatives Need to Leave Their Comfort Zone on Poverty, Charity, and Welfare |

  • mcnater

    That’s cute you believe that conservatives do care.

    • Ben Grivno

      Glad your type isn’t taking us seriously yet.

      • mcnater

        How could I?

        • Jim Simpson

          That’s right. How could anyone expect you to? You’re not serious.

          • mcnater

            Way more serious than you I promise.

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