A few weeks ago, I was debating whether or not to attend my county’s GOP convention. Frankly, after 8 years of these I’m pretty much over who runs the state party. So, I asked a friend if he was running for re-election and when he replied “No,” I decided to take a pass on the whole convention cycle. I shared with him my frustration at these events. He suggested that instead of attending the actual party meetings, I could join one of the women’s clubs (been there, done that) or join a local Tea Party group (hard pass.) “Isn’t there a ‘Never-Trump’ group I could join instead?”
If you’re a Republican that didn’t vote for Donald Trump, your world is a lonely place. The party is fully on board the Trump train and nobody wants to hear your dissent. Conservative media is largely dedicated to praising everything the president does (and liberal media is fully dedicated to trashing everything he does. There’s no middle ground anymore.)
I may not be a Republican now, but I’m still a conservative. I enjoy writing for this website. I loved our Resurgent gathering last year and am already looking forward to our next one this Summer. I still keep in touch with friends I met at the Red State in 2015. I had always hoped that one day, I would attend CPAC. But not after viewing this year’s lineup. Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, Diamond & Silk. As I Tweeted out a couple of weeks ago, “I’d rather go skinnydipping in battery acid.”
Apparently, I am not alone. Last week, some guy I never heard of named Heath Mayo Tweeted out an invitation for conservatives to meet up locally to discuss how to restore the conservative movement. Headlined as #PrinciplesFirst or “EndTheGrift,” meetings were quickly arranged across the country. Probably 1000 or more attended. Which isn’t bad for a group hastily arranged after one Tweet.
To be honest, I was apprehensive when I attended the meeting here in Atlanta. We had some participants who clearly did not get the memo that this was an ALTERNATIVE to CPAC for people disgusted by the grifters headlining the real event. One guy actually thought Seb Gorka was going to be there. They would have been better off staying home and catching the coverage on Fox. The meeting was scheduled to go from 5:30-7:30, at which point the Gorka fan and a few others headed off to bed. The rest of us stayed until 10:30, discussing the way forward for the conservative movement.
If you want one takeaway from these meetings, it is this: disenfranchisement. Like me, we’ve all felt alienated from the Republican party. But that doesn’t make us liberals. We still care about the same issues we cared about before Trump descended the golden escalator. Specifically, we actually care that the national debt continues to increase despite a Republican in the White House. We worry about spending. The younger members worry that they will never collect Social Security. We’re “pro-life,” but feel that should include more than just getting justices appointed to overturn Roe V Wade. We still care about free markets. But most of all, we still care about truth, integrity, values, and The Constitution. Those are the principles we still believe in.
What concerns us the most is that regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump, there is a clock ticking on his presidency. One way or another, he’ll be gone in less than 6 years. What happens to the Republican party after that? More importantly, how to we retake the conservative movement from the carnival barkers currently sucking up all the attention at CPAC?
Obviously, we didn’t find answers in a two hour (or in our case FIVE hour!) confab. But most of the groups have plans to continue meeting. There’s no official “end game.” This is just a start, but one that I feel is promising.