When you have hit rock bottom and everybody has stopped listening…
I wasn’t going to listen to a second of it… this is what I told myself over the weekend. However, driving seven hours across the barren desert from Tucson, Arizona back to San Diego, California—in between my audiobook—I had to at least hear Trump’s opening comments…
As usual, I was nauseated after two minutes and had to shut it off. I even had to check the transcript this morning to see what else he said; which, as usual, was nothing imperative. Here’s what I heard:
“Well thank you very much CPAC. Do you miss me yet? Do you miss me? A lot of things going on to so many wonderful friends, Conservatives and fellow citizens in this room all across our country. I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we begun together we went through a journey like nobody else. There’s never been a journey like it, there’s never been a journey so successful. We began it together four years ago and it is far from being over. And you know what this is? The hardest working people, hard working American patriots, it’s just getting started and in the end we will win. We will win. We’ve been doing a lot of winning. As we gather this week, we’re in the middle of a historic struggle for America’s future, America’s culture and America’s institutions, borders, and most cherished principles. Our security, our prosperity, and our very identity as Americans is at stake, like perhaps at no other time.”
Two things stand out, significantly: the first, “an incredible journey?” What would that be? Is it that 2020 was one of the worst years in American history – when nearly half a million lives were lost from a deadly pandemic? Was it that he was surreptitiously hiding the pandemic from the American public? And then said it would disappear. Don’t forget about the bleach. The second thing: “hard-working American patriots?” Would Mr. Trump be referencing the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th? I think what surprised me the most — during the two minutes — was the resounding applause and cheering I could hear. It was like hearing a group of teenage bullies congregating on the playground and boisterously cheering a fallen classmate. It was, in a word, sickening.
But today’s entry will not focus on the hour and a half speech, that, to me, has no relevance to where our current leadership is guiding our country. There is no substance; there is no progress for the nation; there is no hope for minorities, homosexuals, and even women. The speech was another Hitler-like proclamation for instilling the values of the “good ‘ol boys.” It’s a remarkably exasperating calamity. It’s also a tragedy that does not seem to be vanishing, either. In no fashion will I pronounce: CPAC represents all Republicans — after all, it’s America’s conservatives. However, it does hold all Republicans responsible for participating in sabotaging our democratic principles.
In a piece in the Washington Post today, Greg Sargent very much emphases the topic I find myself concerned with: what Trump and the Republicans are trying to do moving forward:
Meanwhile, in numerous states, Republicans are gearing up to use this year’s decennial redrawing of electoral maps to entrench extreme gerrymanders. They have openly declared that this will help them win back the House in 2022, and some experts believe redrawn maps might ensure that this happens even if Democrats again win the national House popular vote.
Crucially, these efforts are increasingly animated by the same lie about the election’s illegitimacy that Trump told at CPAC. As the Times reports, they are “led by loyalists who embrace” Trump’s “baseless claims of a stolen election.”
In other words, Republicans are widely acting upon this lie as their excuse to continue entrenching anti-democratic and anti-majoritarian advantages wherever possible.
This is the Republican’s new goal: if we can’t get the majority of Americans to side with us — because we are always unpopular — then we must rig the system. In no shape or form do Republicans want people voting in the numbers we saw this past election cycle. I honestly believe this is what they are leaning on as well, which is the expectation that people won’t show up in future elections and vote. This alarms me every election cycle, because they are not wrong here, as all you need to do is look at historical data.
Sargent talks more about the importance of Democrats playing the offensive here; an understanding that while we can all try to ignore and condemn Trump’s rhetoric, we do, ultimately, have to understand that his “populist Republican party” is never far from going from minority to majority.
The Big Lie about 2020 is built on an ugly truth: Trump and the Republican Party have turned their backs on our constitutional vision of government of, by, and for the people,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told me in an emailed statement.
“You heard it from Trump himself,” Merkley continued. “We’ve got to get the For the People Act signed into law ASAP so the next elections are decided by the will of the voters, not rigged by corrupt politicians.”
Democrats keep telling us that the prospects for civic renewal in the wake of Trumpism’s continued degradations — and the GOP’s ongoing slide into authoritarianism — depend on making government and democracy more functional and responsive. If they really believe this, that imposes obligations on them to do just that.
It is a double-edged sword at times: Dems need to sanction the Republicans as aberrant and iniquitous, yet they also need to find a way to instill our Democratic principles in voters — most importantly, swing voters. Merkely makes a superb notion when he brings up the importance of voter protections. While Republicans are continuing to encourage voter suppression, Democrats should offer this offensive: prove over and over that the Republican foundation is spurious and harmful. Our new focus — for Democrats — should always be inculcating policies to help and benefit the subjugated, but also to encourage as many people to vote as possible. When we don’t vote, we see the consequences as clear as day. Sargent makes another useful point.
Put another way, Democrats constantly point out that the GOP is increasingly captive to Trump and that Trump and his party remain captive to his destructive mythology about the stolen election. But this can’t be reduced to mere partisan messaging.
Instead, taking this idea seriously requires acting where possible to prevent the GOP’s increasing radicalization from further wrecking our democratic system. We know exactly what this will look like. Trump just told us so himself.
Trump has his hold over the Republican party; the members of this party all stand for the vision he has for our country, which is to breed xenophobic, misogynistic, and destructive people. While the “populists” have no scruples; we must understand, in the context of the current circumstances, they have lost. And similar to Trump, when people lose, they are not often very wholesome about it: they complain, they scapegoat, and they find ways to try and win again. At the moment, Trump is the sore loser, and he has taken a political party down with his malfeasance…
1. Sargent, Greg. “Trump’s biggest CPAC lie unmasks a vile truth. Democrats ignore it at their peril.” The Washington Post. March 1, 2021. Apple News. Accessed March 1, 2021.
2. “Donald Trump CPAC speech – read the full transcript” https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-cpac-speech-2021-b1809208.html. Accessed March 1, 2021.