When I heard that Jim DeMint plans to skip Thursday’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., to protest its inclusion of pro-gay marriage group GOProud, I had the same question everybody else did: “Who is Jim DeMint?”
The roster of third-tier GOPers and right-wing outfits threatening to skip this thing, from Liberty University and Heritage Foundation to Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel and Concerned Women for America, has more has-beens on it than the credits of Big Mama’s House 3.
Some of them have gotten a lot of mileage off the CPAC controversy. Liberty Counsel spokesman Matt Barber, for instance, got his fair share of publicity for instigating the first boycott against GOProud’s participation in 2009. DeMint made headlines across the blogosphere, at CNN and even at The Advocate for opting out of this year’s CPAC two weeks ago. And FRC president Tony Perkins got his name in print again at HuffPo, Fox News and The Daily Caller.
But nobody takes these people seriously. CPAC’s organizers expect this year’s conference to be the biggest one to date with over 130 sponsors and vendors, in spite of the boycott. And It’s A Free Country’s Karol Markowicz, HotAir’s Allahpundit and former RNC publicist Liz Mair are just a few of the conservative bloggers to come out in support of GOProud. Not even DeMint’s Tea Party ally Sarah Palin is hitching her wagon to this thing — and she’s supposed to be a “true conservative.” In a CBN interview last Sunday, Palin too endorsed GOProud’s CPAC participation.
Like it or not, Republicans are trending libertarian and have been for a while. Six in ten of them supported repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in a CNN poll last spring. Gay marriage now has majority support in seventeen states — up from zero in 2004 — per a new report from the Human Rights Campaign. Ten more states are expected to go gay by 2013, according to pollster Nate Silver. And Lindsey Graham’s expected to go gay even sooner. Meghan McCain and Barbara Bush have both come out for marriage equality. GOP icons like Dick Cheney and Ted Olson have too.
But I guess some people haven’t gotten the memo. The Washington Times reported on Tuesday that another batch of “conservative leaders,” from Media Research Center to Let Freedom Ring brass, are circulating a formal letter urging CPAC, once again, to drop GOProud. If these people were influential to the modern GOP, I’d be worried. But this bunch of burnouts wouldn’t be relevant if they changed their name to it. CPAC’s smart to ignore them.
Dorian Davis is a former MTV HITS star turned Libertarian writer. He’s been published in Business Week, NY Daily News, XY & more. He’s an NYU graduate and National Journalism Center alum. He teaches journalism at Marymount Manhattan College.