Thousands of Republican activists are gathering in Washington, DC for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to chart out the future for the conservative movement in America. Judging by the speaker lineup, it's clear that the future direction of the American conservative movement does not have much room for the Jewish community's political values.
Thursday afternoon, CPAC attendees will hear from rumored 2016 presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who is the only Senator that actively pushes for cuts to Israel's aid and refuses to rule out containing a nuclear-armed Iran. Paul is also a serial user of what he describes as "overplayed" Holocaust references. Despite all of this, CPAC has opted to highlight Paul in their conference advertising and has given him one of its top speaking roles.
Paul's fellow Senator and another rising GOP star, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), will also be addressing CPAC. Many in the Republican Party believe that Rubio has what it takes to be a serious presidential candidate in 2016. However, when Rubio had the chance during his infamous State of the Union rebuttal to make a clear expression of support for Israel and stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program, Rubio missed that important opportunity.
CPAC will feature a collection of failed 2012 Republican presidential candidates. They will include Mitt Romney, who pledged to the "do the opposite" of President Obama on Israel; Texas Governor Rick Perry, who pledged to start Israel's foreign aid at zero; notoriously anti-gay and anti-choice former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA); frequent Muslim conspiracy theorist Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN); and bombastic right winger former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Failed vice presidential candidate Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), who continues to author regressive and unrealistic budgets, will also speak to CPAC and continue pushing his extreme right wing agenda - which is far out of step with our community.
Ryan's predecessor from 2008, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK), will be speaking and is even featured in promoting the CPAC conference. As a reminder, let's recall that Palin claimed she was the victim of blood libel -- a horrible act of anti-Semitic incitement that alarmingly continues to this day -- after she was criticized following the tragic shooting of then-Representative Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) in 2011. Palin also earned PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" award for pushing the "death panels" lie.
Better suited to the comedy show circuit, the conference will feature addresses by outspoken birther Donald Trump and former Representative Allen West (R-FL), who made a name for himself by frequently invoking the Holocaust to attack his political opponents. West even launched deplorable personal attacks on Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN), and others, proving to his former constituents that he was not the right person to be representing them in the halls of Congress.
Between the CPAC speakers' stances on health care reform, the social safety net, a woman's right to choose, taxation, and many other issues, there simply is not much common ground between those charting the Republican Party's future and the vast majority of American Jews. When you factor in their reckless and offensive statements, it's clear that there is a real divide separating the conservative movement -- including the old, current, and rising stars -- from the Jewish community.
While this year's conference will certainly be quite the show, it will serve as even further confirmation that the Republican Party does not reflect our community's political values and that the Democratic Party is the true political home for American Jews.
Follow Aaron Keyak on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NJDC