Will the Conservative Movement’s Three-Legged Stool Remain Standing?

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Will the Conservative Movement’s Three-Legged Stool Remain Standing?Why GOProud Does Not Belong at CPAC!

On February 20, 2014 The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Conservative Political Action Conference will welcome back a guest that has been shunned in recent years: GOProud, a conservative gay-rights organization.”1 GOProud is participating in CPAC as a guest, not as a “participating organization” or official co-sponsor.

CPAC tickets are sold to any individual wishing to attend—conservative or liberal—but media reports state that the GOProud organization is a guest of the American Conservative Union (CPAC’s parent organization), as opposed to its members attending in their personal capacity.

In a statement provided to The Christian Post, Dan Schneider, ACU executive director, affirmed: “We welcome GOProud’s attendance at this year’s CPAC conference…. I believe their presence could help establish a productive relationship in the future.”2

This blurring of the distinction between individual members and the organization is encouraged by GOProud co-directors Ross Hemminger and Matthew Bechstein who state: “We are looking forward to attending CPAC as guests of the American Conservative Union.”3 And, in an interview with National Journal, Hemminger said: “We really just want to be part of the conservative movement…. We want to establish a fruitful and respectful relationship.”4

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Why is GOProud a welcomed and official guest at CPAC,when it advocates the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” thus undermining the votes and dreams of millions of God-fearing Americans?5

How can GOProud consider itself conservative when it directly opposes the work of social conservative activists and contributes to America’s moral ruin, through the weakening of the family—the first and fundamental building block of society?

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property—TFP protests against the continued attempts of GOProud to cast itself as a bona fide member of the conservative movement. In our opinion, it cannot be a bona fide member, and we invite all CPAC attendees to read below our reasons why.

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Most American Conservatives Are Across-The-Board Conservatives

Most conservatives are familiar with the wise and winning strategic insight of President Ronald Reagan, when he compared the American conservative movement to a three-legged stool, where each leg stands for one of the three main foci of American conservative activism: defense, fiscal, and social. Again and again, he drilled home to us that, exactly like a real stool, all three types of conservative action are necessary for the movement to stand. This winning strategy has delivered victory after victory to the movement since the eighties.

When Reagan used this expressive image, he obviously was not implying that the three legs were mutually exclusive, in the sense that a social conservative cannot also be a defense or fiscal conservative; or that a fiscal conservative cannot be a defense or social one. This would make no sense, as the majority of American conservatives, in our opinion, are conservative, in varying degrees, on all three legs. They are, simultaneously, defense (anti-pacifist, anti-Islamist, strong military, sovereignty, etc.), fiscal (anti-socialist, smaller and less intrusive government, lower tax burden, etc.), and social (faith witnessed to in the public square; anti-abortion; anti-same-sex “marriage,” anti-euthanasia, etc.) conservatives. They are staunch across-the-board conservatives.

Conservatives Must Not Publicly Oppose the Conservative Position

No, we believe that the political truth behind the president’s three-legged stool metaphor is twofold:

  1. To be true to itself, the conservative movement must battle on all three conservative fronts (defense, fiscal, and social);
  2. That individuals and organizations who subscribe to only one or two of the conservative movement’s three legs are still welcome to join the coalition, but should refrain from publicly opposing the rest of the movement’s efforts on the leg or legs they disagree on.

Applying this understanding, organizations whose purposes include a frontal attack on core conservative values of one of the three fronts can never be part of the coalition. GOProud does just this. This might also be seen, for example, in the absurd case of a communist or socialist organization seeking admittance into the conservative movement by claiming to be against abortion.

As an actual case in point, we applaud the ACU’s decision to deny American Atheists’ request to sponsor a booth at CPAC, as this organization’s militant secularism directly opposes the efforts of social conservatives to keep religion in the public square. This ACU decision reflects our understanding of Reagan’s three-legged stool metaphor.6

Our understanding means also that all one- or two-leg conservatives should espouse a publicly neutral position towards those conservative positions they do not subscribe to. In effect, they agree “to go along to get along.” In exchange for the real political victories in the one or two conservative legs they do subscribe to, they agree to refrain from publicly opposing those conservative efforts they disagree with.

Most conservatives are familiar with the wise and winning strategic insight of President Ronald Reagan, when he compared the American conservative movement to a three-legged stool, where each leg stands for one of the three main foci of American conservative activism: defense, fiscal, and social.
Most conservatives are familiar with the wise and winning strategic insight of President Ronald Reagan, when he compared the American conservative movement to a three-legged stool, where each leg stands for one of the three main foci of American conservative activism: defense, fiscal, and social.

A Winning Strategy

This understanding of the three-legged stool can be seen as an updated, conservative version of the political strategy attributed to Benjamin Franklin at the July 4, 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence. He recommended that the Founding Fathers follow the strategy: “We must, indeed, all hang together [though we differ on some issues], or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Through this winning approach, assets are multiplied, and liabilities reduced to their lowest expression. We build on and strengthen our common conservative positions, rather than splintering into shards over our differences. United we stand, divided we fall.

On the issues of each leg, the conservative movement speaks at all times with one voice: the conservative one. In this show of authenticity, unity, and strength, we are truly a “band of brothers.”

The winning potential of this strategy was not limited to Reagan’s days. It is ours to embrace today.

The Left Is United, the Right Should Be Too

Only this wise strategy can give the conservative movement a solid front, securing for it victory after victory against a generally united left. To act otherwise, out of misguided individualism or a compromising spirit, is tantamount to aiding and abetting the left’s strategy of “divide and conquer.”

Divided as the left may be, when the issues matter, it is very united. It is not plagued by the fragmentation that so often burns conservatives like a curse.

GOProud Is Not Conservative

GOProud states that it is fiscally conservative. However, its website includes as one of the organization’s purposes: “Encouraging committed, stable relationships between two people, regardless of sexual orientation, that promote healthy families and create value within our society.”7

GOProud’s anti-family nature and its advocacy of legalized same-sex “marriage” stand in open and direct opposition to social conservatism which, among other moral issues, defends marriage as “the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.”

Thus, in our opinion, as an organization, GOProud cannot be welcomed to CPAC or into the conservative movement, because it cannot remain publicly neutral on core conservative issues and publicly opposes the movement’s efforts. By accepting GOProud, which has no significant grassroots, the conservative movement not only ceases to be authentically conservative, but risks alienating millions of social conservatives whose votes help win elections.

The American TFP calls on the conservative movement to fully adopt this understanding of Reagan’s three-legged stool metaphor and thus reinforce the movement’s authenticity and multiply its strength in the Culture War for the heart and soul of America.

May God bless America.

February 26, 2014
The American TFP


  1. Rebecca Ballhaus, ”Gay-Rights Group to Return to CPAC,” Feb. 20, 2014, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/02/20/gay-rights-group-to-return-to-cpac/, accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
  2. Michael Gryboski, “Gay Republican Group to be Allowed at CPAC Event,” Feb. 25, 2014, http://www.christianpost.com/news/gay-republican-group-to-be-allowed-at-cpac-event-115194/, accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
  3. “An Open Letter Regarding GOProud’s CPAC Attendance,” Feb. 21, 2014, http://www.goproud.org/#!An-Open-Letter-Regarding-GOProuds-CPAC-Attendance/c1lwc/61F12F36-516E-4628-A916-05ECACB71EF5, accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
  4. Beth Reinhard, “CPAC Welcomes Gay-Rights Groups After Years of Exclusion,” Feb. 19, 2014, http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/cpac-welcomes-gay-rights-groups-after-years-of-exclusion-20140219, accessed Feb. 25, 2014.
  5. http://www.goproud.org/#!about/aboutPage, accessed Feb. 24, 2014.
  6. Leah Libresco, “Conservative Atheists Speak Up About CPAC Shunning,” Feb. 26, 2014, http://www.theamericanconservative.com/conservative-atheists-speak-up-about-cpac-shunning/, accessed Feb. 26, 2014.
  7. http://www.goproud.org/#!about/aboutPage, accessed Feb. 24, 2014.

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