Fresh on the heels of Congress repealing "Don't ask, don't tell," there are reverberations within the conservative movement that have gone largely unnoticed by the media.
First (though probably least
interesting), is news that the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America will boycott the Conservative Political Action Conference
-- the largest gathering of conservatives each year in Washington. Socially conservative groups -- and FRC and CWA are among the more prominent ones -- are upset that GOProud, a conservative gay group, will play a prominent role at the conference, set for Feb. 10-12.
Regardless of where you come down on the fundamental issue at hand, my contention that social-conservative groups are not terribly savvy was probably confirmed when news of their boycott was first reported by World Net Daily
, considered by many to be on the fringe of the conservative movement.
The boycotters might have instead talked to National Review or Townhall (where I formerly worked). But by leaking to (or breaking the story with) World Net Daily, these groups have symbolically cast their cause as outside the mainstream of conservatism (while CPAC now occupies the mainstream turf, at least for now).
While GOProud's involvement with CPAC has clearly created tension within various conservative groups, conservative bloggers and thinkers are still debating the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell." (The notion that conservatives are monolithic is a canard, and the debate taking place on the blogs makes that painfully clear.)
On one side of the argument is Jonah Goldberg, who, in an L.A. Times column
, makes a nuanced argument that the very notion that homosexuals want to engage in "bourgeois" institutions such as monogamous marriage and the military proves conservatism has, in a sense, won
As Goldberg jokes, "So now openly gay soldiers get to fight and die in neocon-imperialist wars too?" He later suggests we "look at the decision to let gays openly serve in the military through the eyes of a principled hater of all things military. From that perspective, gays have just been co-opted by the Man."
But conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain
what is happening is not the bourgeoisification of radicalism; rather, it's the radicalization of the bourgeoisie. If the American middle class adopts more and more the radical-egalitarian worldview of the Left, this cannot be sold as a triumph of conservatism, no matter how cleverly Jonah Goldberg or any other Official Conservative Spokesman frames that argument.
Clearly there are disagreements taking place among conservatives over the "gay" issue. It is unclear whether these are mere bumps in the road, or if they will lead to a major schism on the right.