Social conservative organizations may have boycotted the just completed Conservative Political Action Conference but from all observations their absence had no effect on the conference.

Several weeks ago when it was announced that several pro-life groups would not be attending CPAC it looked like the beginning of an internecine war within the conservative movement that threatened to bring down the annual conservative Woodstock.

The boycott picked up steam when The Media Research Center and Heritage Foundation two organizations that are not directly associated with the pro-life movement also announced that they wouldn’t be particpating this after after having done so for most of ther existence.

That raised some eyebrows but in the end it didn’t amount to anything.  The total number of groups boycotting CPAC came to about ten or less than 10% of the total number of sponsors this year.

According to CPAC the number of sponsors actually increased  by 15% shwoing that they were not affected by the boycott.

The group that caused the stir GOProud was barely noticable in the sea of exhibitors and didn’t create any additional controvsery.

With attendance estimated to be a record 11,000 the rela losers this year were the groups that chose not to participate. 

It is a simple case of out of sight, out of mind and with many other pro-life conservative groups in atendance they just scooped up a bigger piece of the pie. 

With a new Chairman at  ACU these groups are probably hoping that things will change next year but as far as I can tell he will maintain the status quo.  And why not?  CPAC didn’t suffer from the absence of Heritage or MRC and instead continued to thrive.

The groups in question have every right to boycott CPAC and I understand their reasoning though it may be due more to wanting to support the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit. 

That meeting is far smaller and is fine for the family values set of the conservative movement but lacks the star power of CPAC and will likely remain a very small event by comparison.

The debate wll go on but it is clear that until a viable alternative exists that CPAC holds all the cards.

The economic woes that have hit industries from car manufacturers to restaurants claimed another casualty this week as the well known media watchdog Media Research Center closed one division and laid off the staff of another project this week due to a lack of funding.

On Monday the much hyped service laid off the editorial staff   rendering the nascent competitor to YouTube rudderless.  Unlike YouTube which relies solely on user generated content, added their own edited footage taken from across the country to help ensure a conservative flavor and a more reliable source of footage.  By all measures the service was doing well and the layoffs came as a surprise.

Now we can add the shutdown of the Business and Media Institute which was led by long time conservative Bob Knight.  The BMI had issued several very well researched reports and was filling a gap in analyzing how the media covers business which is generally very poorly.

The MRC did what it felt was the only thing it could do by cutting projects when the money to fund them dried up.  On the other hand for an organization with nearly $10 million in assets according to its 2006 form 990, maybe they could have scaled the projects back or wind them down a little slower to ease the pain on the staff.

After all  if you look at the 990 the top brass at the MRC isn’t exactly hurting for money with several salaries over $200 k plus benefits.

As conservatives we have a responsibility to lead by example and show the liberals that we are in it for the cause and not the money.  But as organizations grow the leaders tend to confuse the non-profit world they live in with the for-profit world that runs on a different set of standards.

There is no reason why the leader of a conservative group should be paid as if he or she is running a Fortune 500 company.  Conservative non-profits exist on donations that are given to them by many people with far lesser means than they.  I think there should be an obligation to take a minimal salary and to use as much of the donations as possible in the mission of the organization.

As the organization that I work for continues to struggle financially I have made an effort to trim fat wherever I can and have taken a pay cut and will do so again in January to help balance the books.  Since my salary is far below $100 k and I live in the D.C. area with two children in college that isn’t easy to do but I think it’s the correct course of action.

How can I in good conscience ask donors for money in these tough times if I am not willing to sacrifice as well?

If the economy continues on this path for much longer the MRC won’t be the only conservative organzation retrenching.  While we need sound business principles we also need a strong conservative movement if we are to have any chance of recapturing the House in the next few elections.