The Conservative Political Action Conference, usually referred to by its shorthand, CPAC, was a memorable occasion for a variety of reasons this year. This year’s event was held on the cusp of what will perhaps be the most pivotal election of our young century. An election in which the fate of the PPACA-otherwise known as Obamacare-arguably the federal government’s greatest encroachment upon personal medical decisions, will ultimately be decided, most likely by voters’ reaction to President Obama’s likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, whose own statewide health care reform served as the template for this broadly unpopular federal law.
The ambivalence conservative voters feel towards the GOP frontrunner was merely one of many important currents running through this year’s conference. Of course, there was the electric speech delivered by Andrew Breitbart, which-as always-was preceded by its share of controversy. But there was also a contentious debate over immigration featuring our good friend, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He, along with Roger Vandervoort, Executive Director of ProEnglish, debated the merits of our current immigration policy-including the federal government’s lassitude with regard to illegal aliens-with two open borders apologists in a forum moderated by the head of the Congress of Racial Equality, Niger Innis.
High Fences, Wide Gates-the title of the panel, as well as a phrase that famed punk rock musician, entertainment lawyer, and conservative writer Joe Escalante often employs to describe his own immigration philosophy-was perhaps destined to be overshadowed by other events taking place on the weekend of CPAC. However, this discussion bears watching in its entirety because it illustrates the sharp divide that exists between traditional, Kirkian conservatives and libertarians, corporate interests, and certain neoconservatives who anathematize immigration restrictions of any form.
That is why, although agreeing with others who assert that framing this issue as a debate constitutes an insult to conservatives-where is the comparable debate at CPAC between school choice advocates and public school proponents, pro-life activists and those who support abortion on demand, or flat tax supporters and those who want to institute a VAT-I nevertheless feel that it is a worthwhile exercise for a number of reasons.
1. It illustrates the timorous nature of the opposition. They are so insecure in their beliefs, or afraid that nonpartisans on the immigration question can be dissuaded from supporting unfettered immigration, that they need to contest any exposition of skepticism about our nation’s policy of open borders, regardless of the venue.
2. Conversely, it demonstrates that we are not hesitant to defend our philosophy, whether surrounded by opponents in the lion’s den of New York University, or speaking to a group of less overtly hostile conservatives.
3. Finally, and this is the most important point, the persuasiveness of our point of view-which is already shared by a sizable majority of the American public-is on full display. We should never be afraid to defend our views, especially when they are based upon empirical facts and concrete historical evidence. Although the false equivalency organizers of this conference attempted to establish between both sides of the immigration questions is lamentable-although not surprising, considering who currently serves as the head of CPAC-it should not prompt us to abandon the public arena.
I urge you all to watch the immigration “debate” that took place at CPAC. The full video, as well as a host of other fantastic images and great footage taken by our good friend Pamela Hall can be found at The Silent Majority No More. She also covered Day 1 of CPAC, Friday’s festivities, as well as a moving tribute to Andrew Breitbart found in the exhibit hall of the hotel on CPAC’s final day. Read and watch it all.