If there are over 10,000 of the most dedicated grassroots activists for the conservative cause in one place, why would you miss it? That’s a rhetorical question. You wouldn’t miss it.
CPAC was lit up with the energy not of old establishment types but the young, the restless and the politically active. You know those people who knock on doors and persuade? Yeah, that’s who was at CPAC.
The establishment folks were out in force, too, but I haven’t seen so much enthusiasm and unabashed love for conservative values, well, in a decade. The tide has turned and some notable politicians missed out.
Where was Sarah Palin? She is staking her ground on the Tea Party movement. That’s fine. But you know what? In the poll of about 500 attendees of the panel I moderated (a good sampling of CPAC attendees), probably 90% attended a Tea Party. Nearly every hand went up.
I knew that would be the case beforehand. Tea Partiers are conservatives and libertarians and they want to network and meet and hear the new leaders and start making early choices about who they’ll support. When Palin and Huck and others don’t show up, they suffer in comparison because they’re just not there.
On Twitter Matt Lewis says, “Huck’s criticism of CPAC reminds me of his feud with Club for Growth & his book. Failure to swallow pride is career-limiting for pols…”
Outsized pride is career limiting and character-reavealing all at the same time.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney was introduced by the adored Scott Brown.
The leaders of the Tea Party movement were at CPAC, Sarah Palin would have received a hero’s welcome. She could have talked about the Contract From America. She could have talked about all the people she connected with across the country.
There is another chance for these leaders to meet and influence voters.
Americans for Prosperity has a RightOnline conference coming up in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Venetian July 23 – 24. People from all over America–dedicated activists–who use modern technology to spread the word will be there.
I suggest that Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee and the other big-name politicians who want to influence the influencers make a point of showing up….and not for pay. Just show up and talk to the people who will influence the grassroots.
The groundwork is being laid now and the people who care enough to fly to DC to pay for a conference to hear all these great, new, fresh faces are very motivated. It isn’t about the established DC insiders who put together these sorts of things, it’s about the people who attend them.
So, there are some key moments when a movement shifts and changes. CPAC was one such time. The RightOnline conference opposite Netroots will be another.
Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee need to be at these events if they hope to win the hearts and minds of those who influence the perspective of others. They should have been at CPAC. It was a golden opportunity.