The 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a project of the American Conservative Union, will take place on March 14-16 in Washington D.C. CPAC is an annual gathering of conservative political leaders and activists, with speakers serving as a who's who of the American right-wing. This year's scheduled speakers will include National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Marco Rubio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, among many others.
A celebration of right-wing culture, CPAC will include book signings for books such as Return to Order: From a Frienzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society. Among the many Citizens United films to be screened are Occupy Unmasked, which paints a sinister picture of the Occupy movement, and The Gift of Life, an anti-abortion film produced by former governor Mike Huckabee. CPAC film schedule will take plenty of jabs at Democrats, screening films such as The Hope & The Change and 2016: Obama's America, both of which are critical of President Obama. Hillary Clinton has by no means been forgotten, as CPAC is scheduled to screen Hillary The Movie as well.
As always, CPAC will offer a colorful array of right-wing workshops:
- “The Fight for Religious Liberty: 40 Years After Roe v. Wade"
- “Fatherless America: The Headwaters of Poverty, Crime& Social Dysfunction”
- “Stop THIS: Threats, Harassment, Intimidation, Slander & Bullying from the Obama Administration”
- “The United Nations vs. The United States: The End Run Around the American Way of Life"
While skimming the 2013 CPAC program, I noticed that the conference has devoted more attention environmental issues -- or rather, denying environmental issues. For instance, CPAC will host a screening of FrackNation, which defends hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and confronts "threats, cops and bogus lawsuits questioning green extremists for the truth about fracking." Also on the conference's screening schedule is Truthland: Dispatches from the Real Gasland, which also defends hydraulic fracturing.
Several speakers from the conservative Heritage Foundation are scheduled to take part in a panel discussion entitled "Individuals, Liberty & the Environment: Seizing the Environmental Issue". The CPAC panel discussion comes after the January 2013 release of the Heritage Foundation report, Environmental Conservation Based on Individual Liberty and Economic Freedom, which critiques environmental laws and argues that "private property protections and free markets" offer promise for environmental protection.
Finally, a panel discussion entitled "How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Plastic Water Bottles, Fracking, Genetically Modified Food, & Big Gulp Sodas" will no doubt feature controversial messages about the environment. Where might the speakers stand on environmental and food safety issues? Let's take a look.
One speaker, Julie Gunlock, is director of the Independent Women's Forum Women for Food Freedom project, the website for which insists, "Governments at every level are seeking to more vigorously dictate what Americans can and cannot eat. This is government over-reach and paternalism at its worst." The project looks askance at government influence on food-related policy, advertising, and marketing, arguing that "Americans simply don’t need a nanny state to help them choose the food that’s best for them and their families."
Another speaker, Angela Logomasini, is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The organization's website states its opposition to "policies based on the beliefs that prosperity threatens the environment, that the answer to every environmental challenge is more regulation, and that risks can be abolished by limiting human ingenuity."
Yet another speaker, Jeff Stier, serves as a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. The organization's Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs promotes "private, free market solutions" to environmental issues, frowning on "the perverse nature of many government-first environmental policies through the collection and promotion of regulatory horror stories, which attach human faces to very real problems caused by regulation."
Noticing a pattern? Disdain for environmental regulation policies. The free market as the supposed solution to environmental issues. Disgust for the so-called "nanny state". This should be interesting, especially for observers who doubt such right-wing conclusions and want genuine answers to environmental problems. In the face of climate change, pollution. energy challenges, and concerns about sustainability, and in the wake of a massive climate change march in Washington D.C., we need substantive public discussions about the environment. I have doubts that CPAC will be a setting for such discussions.
CPAC, along with the annual Values Voters Summit, gives observers a picture of the issues drawing the attention of the American right-wing. As conference material becomes available this spring, I'll be eager to hear what messages circulate within CPAC's conference rooms.
For more information on CPAC, click here. For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Huffington Post: CPAC 2013 Adds Potential 2016 Candidates Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum To Speaker List
Politico: Sarah Palin to Speak at CPAC
The Maddow Blog: TRMS writing challenge: The missing CPAC panels