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Page Two

Before World War II, most conservatives believed the US should keep out of foreign entanglements. The Cold War changed this, leading traditional conservatives to pursue a strong national defense. President George W. Bush expanded that idea to include the policy of preventive war. 

However, the Iraq invasion revived those conservatives opposed to military actions not required by an immediate threat. In a panel on "Why Real Conservatives are Against the War on Terror," four self-identified conservatives gave some very strong anti-imperialist speeches. Ron Paul also used strong anti- language in his Friday afternoon address to CPAC.

It is the movement's "social issues" which often divide libertarians from other conservatives. At the 2010 CPAC that divide was most apparent around the presence of the newest gay organization, GOPROUD. GOPROUD broke off from the Log Cabin Republicans before its national conference last April. CPAC didn’t blink at taking the $4,000 fee GOPROUD paid to be a full co-sponsor, despite some threats from other conservative organizations to stay away.

Before Ron Paul spoke, one of 18 young people invited to give two-minute talks used his time to denounce CPAC for "inviting" GOPROUD (sic — CPAC didn’t invite, it accepted the application) to be present. By the time Ryan Sorba stood up, the 3,200-seat ballroom was full of Ron Paul supporters waiting to hear their hero, and they loudly booed Sorba until his time was up. Later YAF, which was listed in the program as Sorba’s affiliation, tried to distance itself from his statement; YAF has no position on gay rights.

The social issue which evoked no controversy was abortion, largely because it was never mentioned. Although the idea of personal liberty includes the right of bodily self-determination, and the largest libertarian think tank, the CATO Institute, does support a woman’s right to choose, none of the people sitting at the booths along Liberty Row would publicly support it. Nor were any pro-choice organizations present at CPAC. If there were any pro-choicers among the libertarians attending, they were mighty quiet about it. Ron Paul, a former OB-GYN, votes pro-life in Congress.

At the end of every CPAC, it announces the results of its straw poll, which always asks "Who would you vote for as the next Republican nominee for President?" Paul supporters rejoiced when he received the vote of 31% of those choosing to participate in this poll, even though CPAC regulars booed the results. Last year he only received 13%, and in 2008, when he first appeared on the list, he only got 12%. Of course, CfL hadn’t mobilized Paul supporters to attend last year’s CPAC and in 2008 his campaign was focused on caucuses and primaries.

The CPAC straw poll is not an accurate predictor of success in achieving the Republican nomination. Mitt Romney, who came in second this year, got the most votes in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The fact that Ron Paul will need considerable support from traditional conservatives to succeed in 2012 was reflected in that GOPROUD was passing out stickers at its booth which promoted: "Draft Cheney — 2012." GOPROUD prefers Cheney’s foreign policy to that of Ron Paul.

©2010 Jo Freeman for SeniorWomen.com

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