March 5, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – I attended my first CPAC this year. I’m grateful to have gone and to have met the people I did. I hope the many interviews I conducted were enlightening to those who viewed them. Click here to watch them all on LifeSite’s Rumble account.
Despite that, what struck me the most after seeing up close and personal the so-called leaders of the ‘conservative’ movement is just how much coalition politics is a dirty, sad business and that Jesus Christ is sorely missing from most of it.
Earlier this week I spoke with Brian McCall from Catholic Family News about my time in Orlando. That interview is set to be released in the coming days on their YouTube channel here. I told him that CPAC made me long for Christendom. I told him that it made me yearn to live during a time in human history when elected officials, churchmen, and persons in public life actually cared about helping those under their protection get to heaven.
Today (really, since the 1500s) politics is little more than power-hungry, fallen individuals running around employing whatever schemes they can cook up to take each-other out. Sure, human beings have always, in a sense, done this to varying degrees, even in Catholic nations prior to Luther writing his 95 theses. It’s the pride of life and original sin that takes over. But it’s far, far worse now that we’ve lost the true religion.
The way I see it, politics now is basically God telling us, “Okay you stiff necked rabble, you want to tear asunder Christendom out of pride? Let’s see you manage things better without the sacraments at the center of public life. Good luck!” If nothing else, CPAC 2021 confirmed to me that democracy, pluralism, and modernity can bring out the worst in people and that we’re all on a slowly sinking ship until God decides to intervene. Until then, we can have minor victories here and there, but until Jesus Christ is restored to the forefront of our politics, we’re basically re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
The political right has been trending in favor of the LGBT agenda for a while now, and under President Trump the movement’s relationship with the gay lobby has only grown closer. Anti-LGBT groups like Mass Resistance and Americans for Truth about Homosexuality aren’t allowed at CPAC anymore. Abby Johnson called out CPAC organizers for going soft on family issues during a panel discussion this year. I was there in the front row when she did and was glad to have witnessed it.
To be fair, there was a discussion on the main stage about the importance of fatherhood and Terry Schilling from the American Principles Project moderated a talk about keeping boys out of girls sports. But, if we’re being honest, that was a low hanging fruit sort of thing. Everyone knows the right wants to move on from Obergefell v. Hodges and to appease the LGBT crowd. In all honesty, I don’t see how you’re going to keep their influence from growing. The camel’s nose is already under the tent. Terry and others like him, though clearly well-meaning, are between a rock and a hard place. I don’t envy them.
The Republican Party and the conservative movement will always talk about the importance of being pro-life. And they did that at this year’s CPAC with a panel discussion that featured Alison Centofante of Live Action. They also premiered Nick Loeb’s new Roe v. Wade movie. The right clearly understands that abortion motivates millions of people to donate their money and to go to the polls every election cycle. And yet, it always seems pro-lifers are told they’re just one more Supreme Court judge away from overturning Roe v. Wade and one more Senator that needs electing so they can de-fund Planned Parenthood. President Trump was the most pro-life president in American history. But does the Republican Party and the conservative movement truly care about the unborn? There’s room to argue that they don’t, and that they’ve been taking pro-lifers for a ride.
Perhaps the most shocking thing I saw — really, couldn’t help but notice — at CPAC was, sorry to say, the way the women were dressed. You think Fox News has a problem with modesty? Come to CPAC. And it’s not just the twenty-something talking heads on ‘conservative’ media who are barely clothed. Even the teenagers leave little to the imagination. Good luck keeping custody of the eyes at these gatherings.
Attendees at CPAC are an interesting lot. There seems to be two types of people that go – those in their fifties and sixties and those who are still in college. The older ones tend to be die hard activists who border on making an idol out of politics. They willingly fork over hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for the chance to see lawmakers up close and personal. The younger ones are high school and college kids who seem to want to be the next Tomi Lahren or Ben Shapiro.
Historically, conservatism was associated with the idea that man is wounded by nature and that there exists a natural law rooted in objective reality that limits the scope of the government’s role in our lives. As such, virtue should be promoted and vice generally restricted. But the conservatism of today forgets all this. A drag queen named “Lady Maga” was at CPAC this year. I asked him if he thinks the GOP is moving in his direction and he immediately said that yes, conservatives “love freedom” and that they love him too. And he’s right. The most popular expositors of what passes for conservatism today primarily praise “free market” economics and criticize Marxism, socialism, and whatever other -ism that’s out there. But on LGBT issues, they’re complete libertines. This isn’t conservatism. It’s Mammonism. Establishment conservatives forget, or ignore, the fact that society can only thrive when culture, traditions, and truth are preserved. There wasn’t the slightest bit of evidence that a ton of attendees at this year’s CPAC believe that.
What, then, should our goal as Christians be in all this? To fight so we can merely be left alone with our religious liberty? To simply be able to teach what the Bible says about the differences between men and women in our own communities? While it’s true that we need to be able to do those things, and movement politics can help acheive those ends, our real end game should be to re-claim the public sphere for Christ the King, who has dominion over all creation.
I told Brian McCall that what I truly miss is good old fashion Catholic Action where bishops take charge and lead the laity in political affairs. I said that we should care little for what the left or the right make of us. Let’s be considered fools for Christ. I’m sick of the rat race of modern politics where ordinary lay people too often twist and contort the Christian faith to fit in with this or that political movement. Usually what happends is the truth gets watered down somewhere along the way. I don’t pretend to have all the anwers, but a good start would be to boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel and to be a thorn in the side not only of all modern politicians but most especially conservative ones. Conservatism won’t make America great again. Only Christ can. Let’s never tire of reminding our fellow citizens of that.