The Republican house isn't built on a strong foundation of rock, but rather shifting sands. And the foundations are settling noticeably as the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) holds its yearly conference in Washington. Make no mistake, schism is official within the world of conservative politics.
CPAC has stood at a commanding perch within the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan joined and spoke at their conferences on several occasions. Pundits and media crowd the gallery to get a view and digest the interactions within all the conservative organizations who come together at this annual conference. Conservative political leaders take to the podium to espouse their strongest rhetoric against the coastal elites, popular cultural indicators and liberal bastions of power -- garnering wild applause from their proletariat and headlines out to the nation.
The CPAC conference has been the starting block to Presidential aspirations and unifying right wing themes for many years.
The massive Republican base known as the Religious Right that stretches and weaves in and out of voting precincts across the quilt of our nation has ramped up their revolt. They're not present this year.
The political right wing of the church and the Republican Rotarians out at the country club have long been at odds over priorities, but Republican leaders have managed to bind together these social and fiscal agendas into a common voting bloc since Reagan.
The differences, though, have always smoldered. These polar worlds have been connected by fragile bridges and held together with duct tape.
The Religious Right, dating back to Falwell and Robertson, offers the embodiment of one part of the Republican Party. Their fear-mongering draws millions of Americans to their cause. And, these religious crusaders have faithfully delivered their followers to the Republicans on Election Day. They have embraced their social issues with zeal and looked the other way while those without voices, the poor and hurting, take a back seat to the wealthiest by Republican fiscal policy.
Out at the country club we find the fiscally conservative Republicans, those who are singularly focused on the macroeconomics of big business and GDP. It's the Peggy Noonans in their cardigans and sensible loafers. They roll their eyes at the religious conservatives while crafting their elite view of America. These Republicans can't stomach alter calls and a raised hand during prayer... bless their hearts.
But the country clubbers have needed the Religious Right for their votes. And the Religious Right has needed the country clubbers for their empowerment.
Yet this week, at CPAC, the conservative faithful have boycotted. The massive base is missing.
The Family Research Council, the Media Research Center, the Liberty Council, the American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, the National Organization for Marriage, and Washington's largest conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation are not attending.
Why? They are protesting the inclusion of one particular organization named GOProud.
Now, a visit to GOProud's webpage reveals a mission statement reading "GOProud is committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy. GOProud promotes our traditional conservative agenda by influencing politics and policy at the federal level." .
So, what's the problem? GOProud represents gay conservatives.
Country clubbers, your helpmate is in revolt. Despite GOProud's commitment to your traditional values of smaller and limited government they do not reflect one value of the Religious Right -- they're not straight.
And, that's enough for schism. The fragile bridges and duct tape has dry rotted.
This drama, for the moment, is really not about who is winning the soul of the Republican Party. Rest assured, both sides have amassed an arsenal to compete for such a lofty prize. It's about the fact that a schism between the two competing ideological centers diminishes the whole of the party. A house divided cannot stand. One cannot serve two masters.
The Religious Right's unwillingness to attend a conference with gay Americans in attendance, which, while pretty darn horrific by itself, also showcases the deeper fears and anger of the Religious Right.
Nick Gillespie over at Reason hits on something worth noting while discussing Grover Norquist, a key CPAC leader:
"Mr. Norquist serves on the GOProud advisory board and also has advocated legalization of drugs, open borders and amnesty for illegals; supported closing the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay; opposed aspects of the USA Patriot Act; and supports the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque. He is actively promoting the Obama administration's "engagement plan" with Islam, which has the Muslim Brotherhood's seal of approval. He certainly has a right to hold those views, but it is false advertising to call them conservative."
Does this have anything to do with the an emerging belief within the Religious Right that CPAC has been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood?
Norquist is unimpeachable when it comes to being a stalwart for low taxes and small government. But, when it comes to social issues, he doesn't fit into the hard core world of the Religious Right's ideology.
Norquist is only one of a long list of macroeconomic Republicans the Religious Right once found ways to work with. But, no more.
There is a schism in the Republican Party. The Religious Right is flexing its muscle. It's a bicep that has delivered millions to the polls for the Republicans. They're making their play. The country clubbers are flexing back.
Rest assured, the winner will not be the Republican Party.