What’s the deal with CPAC Chicago?

By DOUG IBENDAHL • May 25, 2012


Okay who had the brilliant idea to hold CPAC Chicago at the same time as the 2012 Illinois Republican State Convention?


CPAC Chicago is a one day event on Friday, June 8. That’s the same day as the first day of the State GOP Convention in Tinley Park. In fact much of the real work at the State Convention is done on that first day. That’s when all of the committees meet and vote on the matters assigned to each particular committee.


Each committee’s report is then passed on to be voted up or down by all of the delegates meeting together the next day on Saturday afternoon. That’s the only time the entire delegation meets together as a group. Delegates on Saturday are expected to rubberstamp whatever the committees approved on Friday. In theory the delegates can reject what a committee recommends, but in practice it has never happened to my knowledge.


I’m sure at CPAC Chicago there will be much preaching to the choir about the evil “establishment.” There’s a little cottage industry in Illinois – or maybe pity party is a better description – of commentators, bloggers, and self-appointed conservative leaders who love to sit around and complain about “the establishment.”


Look folks, there is no Republican “establishment” in Illinois. Instead, all we’ve got is a bad, easily rigged system that’s allowed a very small group of people to stay in charge for many years. That little group understands the system, they protect it – plus they fight a lot harder than conservatives. So conservatives always lose and end up just sitting around complaining. I’m sorry to say I think a lot of conservatives out there prefer the pity party – it’s a convenient excuse for doing nothing beyond complaining.


The good news is there’s an historic opportunity to fundamentally change the Illinois Republican Party for the better at the upcoming State Convention. Passage of the resolution posted HERE would drive a stake into the heart of the so-called “establishment.” In Tinley Park we can finally return the Illinois Republican Party to ALL Republicans.


We can end the pity party in two weeks. We can lay the foundation for building a real Republican Party in Illinois. Maybe that makes some conservative bloggers and commentators nervous. With the “establishment” bogeyman a thing of the past, they’ll have to find something else to do. Too bad.


I don’t blame the national figures coming in for CPAC Chicago. Our State Party has done so little to promote the State Convention, people like Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and the rest would not be expected to know they were supporting a competing event that will keep Republicans away from a convention where serious work could get done.


Both events cost $50. In the case of CPAC Chicago it goes to fund speakers giving the same speeches to the choir which you can probably watch on Youtube for free anytime you want. In the case of the State Convention, no one dislikes the idea of giving Pat Brady’s crew any money more than I – but until direct elections are restored we’re stuck playing the hand bad officials deal us.


Anyone truly serous about “taking back” their country and their state needs to understand that job one is to repair the Illinois Republican Party. Unless we’ve got a functioning party vehicle, all of the “take back” stuff remains empty talk.


Serious Republicans are asked to support the direct election resolution. And anyone who has the ear of those national figures coming in on June 8 – urge them all to swing by the State GOP Convention in Tinley Party. Rank-and-file Republicans need their help. Christie, Jindal, Bachmann, Santorum and all the rest – we need them standing up for Illinois Republicans, for accountability, and for real elections.


Sure, it’s fun to hang out with like minded people and to hear speakers you agree with. But the battle is in Tinley Park. That’s the place where Republicans can actually advance the ball.


Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.


Comments are closed.