People claiming there’s no “diversity” within the conservative movement obviously haven’t been to CPAC.
The Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference attracts all kinds: big wigs, small wigs, old folks, young guns, enthusiastic co-eds, neo-cons, paleo-cons, Bible-believing Christians, conservative atheists, libertarians, tea partiers, borderline anarchists, birthers, survivalists, straight up Republicans, the token liberal reporter, anyone who watches Fox News, and Donald Trump.
There are eccentrics to be sure. The first person I saw when I walked into the Gaylord National Convention Center was wearing an American flag track suit, complete with a coordinating headband. I breathed heavily and mentally prepared myself for the rest of what I was about to encounter.
There’s no avoiding anyone you know at CPAC. Just as you turn the corner and think you’re safe from some person you used to work with and never liked, you have to stop, drop, and roll away from someone you met at a happy hour but don’t remember where or why. It’s like making reparations for the sin of un-replied emails and networking that went nowhere.
Miles are walked during CPAC, causing much distress to the girls who insist on wearing heels day after day after bloody blister. The set-up is a mix between a cruise ship and a space station, far enough removed from D.C. not to disturb the liberals who live there, and close enough for…nothing.
I was strategically located for much of the time near the entrance and exit of the stage from where speakers and the mobs came and went. I was repeatedly mistaken for a CPAC concierge of sorts, and sent inquirers to chase various wild geese depending on their affiliation. The Jeb Bush supporters were directed clear down to the banks of the Potomac (kidding).
Donald Trump had the largest posse by far. Rumor has it he paid them. Another rumor I invented was that no one knew who was actually in the center of his swarm.
There is a room downstairs where people looking to sell you something, convince you of something, subscribe you to something, or promote something are located. There are games (“Regulation Roulette” was my favorite) and “swag” that you get for the small price of spam emails forever.
The big ballroom upstairs is where you can hear conservative pep talks, 8-second snippets of country songs, and 85 back-to-back presidential candidate campaign speeches.
Downstairs and outside is where the fun happens. There are oodles of cocktail receptions, caucuses, and alcohol-infused events during the CPAC after-hours to keep the masses entertained and warm from the inside out.
And of course there’s room for everyone: