Wednesday, October 03, 2007

So--You Follow Politics--And You STILL Don't Know What The CNP Is?

The Council For National Policy (CNP) is the nerve center of the evangelical political movement. The “religious right”, the “Christian Right”, whatever you want to call it—their de facto leaders belong to the CNP. Members also include people who aren’t necessarily associated with the evangelicals; there is significant crossover between conservative and GOP leaders and the CNP. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney represent only a few of the prominent American politicians that have addressed CNP conventions, courting their support.

The CNP membership list is officially secret, but you can get some idea of the organization breadth and influence by reading the following article from NPR:

Election 2008
Giuliani's Abortion Views Risk Third-Party Revolt
by Mara Liasson

All Things Considered, October 1, 2007 •
A group of prominent social conservatives say that if Rudolph Giuliani is the Republican Party's presidential nominee, they will consider bolting the party and fielding a third-party candidate.

The former mayor of New York City, Giuliani has liberal views on a number of social issues, including abortion. He has continued to lead the Republican presidential field in national polls, and he even receives a plurality of support from white evangelical Protestants.

This weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah, a group of leading social conservatives — all members of an organization called the Council for National Policy, agreed on a resolution: If the Republican Party nominates a "pro-abortion" candidate, the group will consider running a third-party candidate.

Growing Frustration Among Conservatives

Veteran conservative activist Richard Viguerie, author of a book called Conservatives Betrayed, was one of the participants...

...Christian conservative leader Gary Bauer, who joined the Salt Lake City meeting by phone, says he understands the frustration, but worries that public threats about a third-party candidate could backfire...

...Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) is the Giuliani campaign's national co-chairman. He says he doesn't believe conservatives will bolt.

"I believe, at the end of the day, that these conservatives will recognize that, if it's the priority to ensure that we don't see Hillary Clinton become president of the United States, then Rudy Giuliani is the man best equipped to win," Dreier says.

(Note that Dreier seems to equate “these conservatives” in the CNP with “conservatives.” That’s not much of a stretch. The membership of the CNP has included and includes some of the most familiar names on the religious right—Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Tim LaHaye, James Dobson, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council—but it also includes many who are not usually identified with evangelicals in politics—Viguerie, Phyllis Schlafly, Tom DeLay, Nelson Hunt, Jack Kemp, Ed Meese, Paul Weyrich, Jack Abramoff—many, many other prominent Republican and conservative spokesmen and activists.)

..."All my political life, liberal Republicans have tried to scare conservatives into supporting liberal Republican candidates, and it has never, ever worked," Viguerie says. "It didn't work in 1948 with Dewey, Nixon in 1960, Ford in 1976, George H.W. Bush in 1992, and it won't work this time."

In all those elections, he says, conservatives stayed home.

Stopping Giuliani's Momentum

That's the message this group of conservatives is trying to send, says Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Although he's a member of the Council for National Policy, Land was not at the meeting this weekend.

...David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, says the group was trying to stop Giuliani's momentum now, while they still can

(Keene has also been identified as a CNP member.)

...Many analysts and many conservatives had assumed that, as rank-and-file Republicans learned about Giuliani's liberal views, his support would evaporate. But it hasn't. And once the whirlwind of primaries starts, these conservatives fear, it may be too late to stop him.

Well, let’s hope they’re right. Because if Giuliani runs without the support of the CNP, it’s very unlikely he’ll win—whether there’s an official split or not. It’s accepted political wisdom that “values voters” (politicized right-wing Christians) put Bush well over the top in the 2004 election. Evangelical radio stations around the country sang his praises in 2000 and 2004. Salem Communications, one of the largest Christian radio chains, is directed by CNP members. It is highly unlikely that any GOP candidate can take the White House without their enthusiastic puffing, and open denunciation of a GOP candidate by CNP directed media would spell disaster for any conservative candidate.

But it is misleading to confine reporting of the CNP’s influence to the national election. This is an organization whose members can promote and elect their own candidates to congressional, state and local political offices.

My current Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann (MN-06), is a CNP protégé. In just seven years, she went from a failed candidacy for a local school board to a seat in the U.S. Congress—a theocrat running a stealth candidacy as a conservative Republican in the tradition of Ronald Reagan. I am sure that many voters around the country can tell you similar stories about their local elected officials. The CNP is real, it has its roots in extremist organizations like the John Birch Society, it’s nationally organized and directed, it was a key factor in putting Bush into the White House (twice) and it is interested in putting more candidates who will serve its agenda in elective office—all around the country.

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