*At the end of this week many of the nation’s leading conservative figures will meet in Washington to discuss the direction of the country and propose counter measures.
The list of featured speakers offers headliners of both genders and many ethnicities, illustrating that conservatism is not monolithic and that elements of conservatism can be attractive to people of any and all backgrounds. Yet noticeably absent from this gathering is the man who was keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention just a few months ago and the presumptive favorite (at this point) to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016: Chris Christie.
Such a fall from prominence in conservative circles would be notable no matter the circumstances. But in this instance it is especially notable because of the development of a working relationship between Christie and President Obama. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and a tropical storm soon after Christie worked hard to get federal funds for his state (New Jersey) which was adversely affected.
At first I couldn’t decide whether I was encouraged or discouraged by the lack of an invite for Christie.
From one perspective it is admirable that conservatives wouldn’t want Christie to be a part of their conference. In lobbying for, and accepting, federal aid Christie went against the standard conservative principles of anti-federalism, reducing government spending. And why would they want someone like that around?
But upon further review, disowning Christie is conservatives cutting off their nose to spite their face. Christie remains a conservative at his core but has allowed for certain allowances in the face of a natural disaster. His recent cooperation with the federal government and Obama only serves to make him a more attractive general election candidate. Should he become president the odds still heavily favor him pursuing conservative policies.
And it should also be examined: when did working with Democrats become anathema for conservatives? Is it possible that the people who are in charge of CPAC have determined that no elected official can have their support while also working in a bipartisan way? This would be a particularly troubling development because of the way the Republican party has become more conservative in recent years. If CPAC reflects the conservative values of the Republican party, then it will be extremely hard for government to function because under their modus operandi (potentially) no one can reach across the aisle.
I am an avowed liberal. Chris Christie probably wouldn’t get my vote. But I would still like to see the country hear his ideas and have a real discussion about their merits because ultimately good ideas (liberal or conservative) will be adopted. And being invited to CPAC would be the first step in that direction.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected]