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writing for godot

The CPAC Freak Show

Written by David Starr   
Wednesday, 10 March 2021 03:30

The Conservative Political Action Conference held in Orlando, Florida was typified by an array of oddities. Here are a few:

Ted "Cancun" Cruz started his presentation in hyper fashion by screaming out the word, "Freedom!" The word freedom has been used by the right-wing to the point of being a mantra. But do they know what it really means? I think they are abusing the word. With freedom comes responsibility. It isn't absolute. Using an old phrase, one isn't allowed to yell fire in a crowded theatre. Likewise, saying that one's freedom is being violated by wearing a mask is irresponsible. This in the middle of a pandemic.

Cruz also joked about his vacation saying, "I gotta say Orlando is awesome. It's not as nice as Cancun–but it's nice." This after abandoning his constituents facing deadly snowstorms in Texas. (Elaina Plott, New York TImes, 02/26/2021)

In another sideshow at CPAC, Pete Hegseth, co-host of "Fox and Friends," made the claim that the focus for conversation for most people involved adhering to the Bible, faith, prayer, the national anthem, and supporting the 1st and 2nd Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. (Mike Figueredo, the Humanist Report, 03/02/2021)

This sounds too good to be true, and it probably is. It projects a 1950s kind of mentality. This kind of propaganda doesn't exactly reflect reality. Many people are concerned about employment, paying the bills, getting food on the table, not getting the Covid virus, climate change, racial conflict and the economy. While supporting the 1st Amendment is valid in itself (although the right in practice has a habit of selectively disregarding it), there is no room for right-wing illusions. One can read the Bible cover-to-cover, have blind faith, pray 50 million times, stand erect for the national anthem, and support the 2nd Amendment (which right-wingers/conservatives misinterpret anyway). It still doesn't get down to directly resolving the issues at hand.

There was Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, who has kept her state open despite the Covid virus pandemic, and claimed that it was a victory for freedom. (There's that word again being used in the wrong context.) Noem also took a shot at government as the right is fond of doing. "Covid didn't crush the economy. Government crushed the economy," she claimed as the audience cheered her on. (Anthony Zurcher, BBC)

This B/W view of government isn't realistic. Government has its positive and negative factors. The idea is not to dismiss it entirely. But the right still clings on to old stereotypes about government, seeing it as a threat to, yes, freedom. People like Noem are willing to risk the welfare of the many to an outdated concept demonizing government. She and others don't realize that government has a social responsibility to promote the general welfare. It has to work for the benefit of the many, not the few.

A clown was sent in to sound the alarm about the threat to cherished U.S. institutions. Donald Trump Jr. was outraged that the Muppets were being banned and that there will be a gender-neutral Mr. Potato Head. The muppets are not banned. Bringing up such irrelevant topics in the face of serious issues shows how "serious" Trump Jr. is. He has become as unstable as his father.

Speaking of Trump, his "Highness" was the hit of the show. "Miss me yet?," Donald Trump asked his many maskless followers who cheered him on. Trump was still obsessed with the presidential election results and still claimed that the election was rigged. "You won! You won! You won!," chanted his followers. (Zurcher, BBC)

They should have gotten down on their knees and yelled, "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"

As usual, Trump pointed the accusing finger at someone else for his own failures. Joe Biden was attacked for immigration policies and the Covid virus even though Biden has only been in office for about two months. The election loss still stings. Trump and followers can't accept that he was defeated. So Biden is the target for their psychotic denial. (Not that I'm a fan of Biden's)

Trump also explained the meaning of "Trumpism." It includes reforming trade deals that in reality would benefit only the United States, further deregulation, low taxes (no doubt for the wealthy), misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment, borders closed to immigrants (according to race and class), and no "riots," meaning no protests by left/progressives.

Another highlight was the bizarre, golden statue of Trump with red, white and blue shorts and holding a magic wand. This is his followers' "golden calf" in which to worship. Former personal attorney for Trump Michael Cohen remarked, "Now, he actually thinks he's a god. People are lining up to take a photo with a stupid-looking pagan idol of Donald." (Ben Fearnow, Newsweek, 02/27/2021)

Even the stage itself was shaped rather oddly. According to writer Chris Truax (Des Moines Register, (03/02/2021), it had the shape of the Odal Rune, a Nordic symbol co-opted by the radical right. During WW2, the SS wore the symbol as a badge. It's now a fascist symbol. This doesn't sound too far-fetched. Despite his saying otherwise, Trump has cozied up to neo-fascists, white supremacists, etc. The GOP in turn is now infected with this characteristic of Trumpism.  And it is insignificant whether there are "moderates" left in the party. The GOP has moved far right.

In all, CPAC represented an agenda that is not only filled with oddities but is also dangerous and destructive. your social media marketing partner
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