The American Conservative Union (ACU) and the granddaddy of all conservative conferences, CPAC, are endangered.
Many of the traditional sponsors that supported the conference through thick and thin years have abandoned ship.
The issue over which the Media Research Center, Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council and others have left the room is CPAC’s insistence that GOP Proud, an organization of homosexual self-proclaimed conservatives, be given a booth inside the conference.
For many conservatives, including us, this recognition of GOP Proud signifies an acceptance of the open promotion of the gay lifestyle inside the tent of conservatism. As a director of ACU, Floyd is acutely aware of the power struggles this controversy has unleashed inside the organization’s boardroom.
Donald Devine, in an excellent essay available on the ACU website under the title, “Why We are Conservative,” lays out the framework of ideas that built ACU and the modern conservative movement. Devine, a professor of political science, former Reagan Administration official and longtime director of ACU, harkens back to the editorial debates at a small publication named National Review in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Devine writes, “Before the 1950s, there were no conservatives. There were traditionalists and libertarians who opposed the dominant welfare state liberal ideology, and there were Republicans who were ‘do it slower-than-the Democrats,’ moderates. But there were no conservatives in the modern sense. Modern conservatism was invented at National Review magazine in the mid-’50s, primarily by editors, William F. Buckley, Jr. and Frank Meyer.”
And then Devine shares the brilliant nugget of compromise that launched the movement and helped it rise to prominence: “As befitting conservatism’s positive view of common sense and tradition, the new doctrine was not planned but grew from the interactions of its creative but divided staff, which needed some common ground from which to publish a coherent enterprise. Meyer dubbed it ‘fusionist’ conservatism. Its highest value was liberty, but it was a freedom to be used responsibly as a means to pursue traditionally defined and virtuous ends. The formula was: conservatism equals relying upon libertarian means to pursue traditional ends.”
Libertarian ideas were used to fight for virtue and traditional ends. Gays in the military, gay marriage and the promotion of the gay lifestyle in the schools are not traditional ends.
National Review embraced the Pro-Life movement, standing against the modern culture of death represented most completely by abortion and euthanasia. National Review’s Editor Bill Buckley spoke out against the modern movement for homosexual civil rights, writing of his ABC News debating partner Gore Vidal that his, “essays proclaim the normalcy of his affliction and his art the desirability of it.” He is “not to be confused with the man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even respected, not the pusher.”
No clearer words than Buckley’s express our own sentiment toward homosexuality. It is a sin and the addict is to be pitied and accepted in Christian love, not the pusher or promoter of the agenda. Our problem with GOP Proud and why we don’t believe they belong in the conservative tent is because they are the “pusher” of their alternative lifestyle.
Conservatism has long tolerated homosexuals in its ranks. We have worked with many on issues as diverse as gun rights and getting Ronald Reagan elected. Floyd learned from and admired Terry Dolan, the founder and genius behind National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) and many of the movements’ early election victories.
ACU and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) were two of the founding organizations of this movement which first found its voice with Barry Goldwater, and then later Ronald Reagan. Floyd has served with homosexuals on both of these boards, and up until this time, both organizations have been stalwarts of social conservatism. ACU as late as 2010 passed a resolution in support of traditional marriage.
But the forces of the secular pro-gay culture that surrounds us is now winning and undermining the great compromise which brought social conservatives, free market advocates and anti-communists together. And together they forged victories.
Alone, they will be minority voices scrambling for relevance.
(Floyd and Mary Beth Brown are best selling authors and speakers. To comment on this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)