CPAC, the annual gathering of conservatives, has kicked off in Maryland but will be missing some participants who normally would be in attendance, thanks to a tweet from Heath Mayo.
Heath Mayo, a management consultant in Boston, has found himself at the tip of the spear of a last minute movement to oppose what some on the right see as the devolution of CPAC into a celebrity-based Trumpist circus.
CPAC 2018 saw Jeanine Pirro, Fox News personality, as keynote speaker at the Ronald Reagan dinner. Representatives Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, fierce defenders of President Trump, were touted as the Conscience of Conservatives, while Sebastian Gorka and “Sheriff” David Clarke, both shady characters of ill repute, were headliners at CPAC as well.
Attendees listened to speeches with titles like “We Refuse to Be Suckers: The New Trump Doctrine” and “TrumpedUp: Unmasking the Deep State” and special events like “Hannity Live!” Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, granddaughter of the founder of France’s right-wing nationalist political party and niece of the current leader of the party, also spoke.
When CPAC 2019 shaped up to be even more celebrity based, with “Video Vloggers, Internet Sensations, Influencers” Diamond and Silk and Rick Harrison, from Pawn Star, speaking in addition to the usual suspects – Oliver North, Sebastian Gorka, Charlie Kirk, Devin Nunes, and Matt Gaetz – Heath Mayo tweeted a simple suggestion that took off: Conservatives should meet up for drinks and a chat instead of going to CPAC.
“How many of us are left”, he wondered? Turns out, enough to schedule meet-ups in 12 cities over the days CPAC runs, February 28 through March 2.
The events are scheduled in DC, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Greensboro, NC, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Houston, and LA.
Mayo points out the meet-up are not slick productions like CPAC in a hotel ballroom. Instead, conservatives will meet in bars and restaurants and attendees will “have to buy their own beer”. With general admission pass costing participants $330 and the Reagan dinner fee $250, the cost of a drink and an appetizer is a fair exchange for a principle-based discussion about the future of conservatism and CPAC.
It isn’t too late to sign up to attend one of the get-togethers. You can sign up here to get more information if you are interested in attending.
With the first full day of CPAC off to a roaring start, the simple gatherings of principled conservatives to discuss the national debt, small government and constitutional values look more appealing by the minute.
Matthew Sarelson, organizer of the Miami skip CPAC event, told McClatchy, “Most of the invited speakers at CPAC do not represent conservatism, but instead represent Trump. Conservatives believe in limited government, constitutional norms, fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense. Today’s CPAC rejects these ideas.”
Heath has been taking heat from Trump defenders since his idea went viral, including a grade-school level joke about his name.
But Heath’s simple ideas of #PrinciplesFirst and #EndTheGrift have hit home with many conservatives who feel like the Republican party has left them, and the foundational values they believe in, behind.
Someday, the Trump presidency will be over and whatever is left of conservative thought will have to find a way to claim a voice in the political realm once again. A few handfuls of individuals rejecting Trump worship for discussions about principles and values may just be the start of that voice.