Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can you bridge that chasm at the State Policy Network?

Every time I attend one of these political conferences, I have to relearn a difficult truth: I am no longer a hard drinker. So when I stay out past my bedtime schmoozing with think-tank types and knocking back pints of wine on somebody else's dime, I always end up with a next-day head of the sort I once had to earn with rivers of tequila. A tequila drunk? That's worth a hangover. A little red-wine tipsiness is no compensation for that midget-squatting-on-my-head feeling.

Hey, it's all for a good cause, right?

But whose cause is it? The gathering here in Scottsdale is a mixed bag of policy types, activists, bloggers, journalists and the like, spanning the spectrum from some kind of libertarian to some kind of conservative. And that's an increasingly fractious spectrum. The majority are pulling, pulling, pulling for McCain/Palin, but there's a lively Bob Barr contingent too (I haven't run into any Chuck Baldwin supporters).

And the constituencies don't necessarily grok each other. Yesterday, when news spread that Barr had asked Ron Paul to take the number-two slot on the Libertarian ticket, with current veep contender Wayne Allyn Root's blessing, some conservatives pushed that offer as a supposed deal-breaker -- how can you support Barr if he's making nice with (oooh) Ron Paul?

Of course, it doesn't work that way. For most of the folks considering Barr, Paul's presence on the ticket would be a bonus. His opposition to overseas military adventures, the Bush administration and the big-government GOP establishment are considered good things.

There's a growing chasm between many libertarians and conservatives, but people seem to be tripping over the damned thing without noticing that they've stubbed their toes.

The one thing the libs and cons do seem to agree on is that Sarah Palin was an inspired choice. The staff of one organization told me they pulled down their office Barr memorabilia after she won the nod. Maybe Palin is lying across that chasm all by herself as a human bridge.

Whatever happens with that chasm in the future, I'm finding these meet-and-greets to be worthwhile. The business-card collection is enough justification, as far as I'm concerned. I can't have too many additions to the ... well, nobody uses Rolodexes any more.

Which brings us to the next big boon from this conference. There's a huge emphasis on Web 2.0 and online social networking here -- tutorials and advice that are ideal for anybody who needs to promote a blog or a Website. Yes, I picked up some useful info.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go nail down the left wing of this little gathering by posting another piece or two at calling for legalizing prostitution.

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