Was CPAC a success?
Every year around this time, the biggest names in conservatism (or so they say) gather in Washington for the annual CPAC event. CPAC, which lasts for three or so days, can be seen as the Superbowl or World Series of conservatism. CPAC is important enough that President Trump and Vice President Pence thought it was vital to address the conference in their first year in office.
President Trump’s speech was fairly engaging, thanks in no small part to his personal charm and charisma, but it came nowhere near the massive, palpable energy and enthusiasm as at his rallies. Many other speeches and segments just fell completely flat. Take Ted Cruz’s segment on constitutionalism, for example.
It’s an important topic, but the crowd and the energy just wasn’t there, as it wasn’t for many other segments.
Where was the energy? Where was the new generation? Where were the forces that propelled Donald Trump to victory? There was a lot of talk about “muh constitution” and “muh Reagan,” the same stuff that’s failed miserably against the left (in terms of pure tactics). Where was the stuff about social media engagement and meme tactics or building up new, young figures on the right?
A lot of this stagnation is a result of having the same people that have been losing for so long put on CPAC every year. By any objective measure, the conservative movement that gathers there has failed spectacularly over the past few decades. That’s probably why they still push Ronald Reagan as some kind of routine talking point even though an entire generation has come of age after he left office. You don’t see the left using FDR or Kennedy as weaponized talking points for today’s political battlefield. They’re treated as icons and used when appropriate, but the left has largely thought forward.
Law 41: Avoid Stepping into a Great Man’s Shoes. Donald Trump followed it.
Consider the memes at CPAC this year.
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) February 23, 2017
Boring or more boring? Why is there a Reagan/Bush ’84 sticker? 1984 was 33 years ago. Why are there so many other Reagan stickers? Why are there Hillary stickers? She’s finished. CPAC is fighting the last war (though I suppose that’s better than fighting the war from a generation ago). Why does Carly Fiorina have a sticker? She’s boring and annoying and nowhere near relevant. The Paul Ryan memes suck. The Trump memes suck. CPAC should take a random from 8chan and they’ll get better results.
Then there was this monstrosity of a headline:
The topic might be important and insightful, but the headline is so stupid that people’s brains are going to shut off. To sum up:
Because heaven doesn’t exist https://t.co/RtTcFQ1cxO
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) February 25, 2017
CPAC, you just got outmemed. No one’s gonna listen to the substance of what you have to say now.
I’m not here to bash CPAC or the people that put it on, but friends have to be honest with one another. Louis XIV advised to hold in high esteem those who displease you for a good cause, as those are your truest friends.
The truth: despite the talent that goes there, CPAC and the conservative movement that attends it hasn’t been very successful at “conserving” anything other than the important exception of gun rights. You’ve seen why.
Hollywood had its own biggest night last night. Up to recently, they’ve been part of the winning team partly because CPAC and the conservative movement it represents complains about Hollywood rather than taking steps to rival and replace it.
Dual power is a strategy that probably goes back, but it’s often associated with Lenin. The idea is to create new spaces and institutions of power to siphon off the power of the older ones, literally to create a new society within the shell of the old. You may loathe Lenin, but his tactics were effective. I wrote about them two years ago.
Why isn’t the right using this strategy? Why has it historically just complained about leftist institutions in the media and popular culture instead of building their own?
Imagine a new CPAC for a rising new generation of rightists. In this new CPAC the stars of the grassroots right wing counterculture come out to shine.
Imagine a session on stoicism, on reclaiming masculinity and the wisdom of the past with Quintus and Roosh.
Imagine one on handling the fake news media and hostile crowds with Mike Cernovich, Tucker Carlson, and Ann Coulter.
Imagine one on using the tools of hypnosis and persuasion to take political action and run for office with Scott Adams (if he could be induced to come).
Imagine a session on free speech and peeling away the Democratic coalition with the now-right wing center left with Dave Rubin.
Imagine a session on planning to keep the Rust Belt red, retake Virginia, and turn Minnesota and New Hampshire red?
Imagine a session on building an online brand to make your presence felt with Stefan Molyneux and James Altucher?
Imagine a session on promoting new, rising stars?
Imagine one on creative writing to tell powerful stories, maybe with yours truly?
Imagine one on building a new populist counterculture, partly with the technologies of tomorrow. Think of the emerging medium of virtual reality. Now imagine sessions on how to make movies using it to bypass Hollywood entirely?
And that’s only just the beginning.
The new CPAC, if such a similar event was set up, should be outside of Washington, out of the swamp. It should be closer to the people at large. The venue can change every year. Think Pennsylvania or North Carolina, etc. Perhaps to start off it should be held in a bigger city like New York or Las Vegas to get maximum attention.
A big part of the reason the left has been so successful aside from their overall better, more impactful persuasion is that they have better infrastructure. Conservatives at CPAC usually just complain about the rival infrastructure. If they aren’t complaining, they’re trying to be good boys to get scraps from the SJW sociopolitical infrastructure network. They aren’t using dual power.
If CPAC is the best they can do, it’s no wonder they’ve been losing.
CPAC is a good event, but it needs new energy, and the right needs to branch out. It’s time for a new World Series for a new league, a new CPAC for a new generation.
Hopefully other people are thinking about this besides me.
Since you’re thinking anyway, get Stumped because it’ll make your thoughts bigger and bolder.