The Republican Party is dead. Just look at the slate of speakers and speeches hosted by the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) a little over a week ago. Sure, certain panels discussed traditional conservative issues, such as military funding and taxation. Ben Shapiro even went so far as to criticize the President. But then there were the rest. Such memorable titles as “An Affair to Remember: How the Far Left and the Mainstream Media Got in Bed Together” and “Kim Jong Un-iversity: How College Campuses are Turning into Reeducation Camps” riled up the crowds, drawing applause from the start.
There was President Trump, encouraging chants of “lock her up,” and reciting the infamous Al Wilson song, using it to compare immigrants to poisonous snakes. This a mere 24 hours after the United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services removed “a nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. There was Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s Vice President, taking shots at anyone who dared speak of gun reform. To quote him: “If these so-called European socialists take over the House and the Senate–and God forbid, they get the White House again–our American freedoms could be lost and our country could be changed forever.”.
Most worrisome of all, however, was the response to Mona Charen, a conservative columnist, stating simple fact. As part of a panel on how liberals mistreat and exclude conservative women, she chose to point out the glaring hypocrisy: The Republican Party elected a man who bragged about groping women and having extramarital affairs. It supported the accused child molester-turned-prospective Senator-from-Alabama Roy Moore. Mona Charen was booed off the stage with such aggression that she had to be led out by security guards. But just so we’re clear, the #UsToo CPAC panel would argue that Democrats are suffering from a crisis of women’s rights.
Fear-mongering, vulgarity, and hypocrisy dominated the conference. Not too long ago, Hillary Clinton was impaled for characterizing then-candidate Trump’s base of voters as deplorable. Not two weeks ago, Laura Ingraham compared liberals to herpes. NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch ratcheted it up a notch, stating that “crying white mothers are ratings gold.”. Hillary got it wrong. What was put on full display at CPAC is not only deplorable, but down right sickening. What happened?
A mere eight years ago, CPAC’s biggest speakers were, by comparison, bastions of conservatism. Vice President Dick Cheney and an aspiring Florida Senator named Marco Rubio drew the crowds. But 10 days ago Marion Maréchal-Le Pen and Sebastian Gorka took the stage. Le Pen is the niece of Marine Le Pen, France’s National Front leader. Gorka, a Hungarian-U.S. citizen, is a supporter of the neo-fascist Hungarian Guard Movement–and the former Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States . Not only has the Republican Party swung to its fringe–it has opened its doors to the blood and soil nationalists of Europe.
It wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time in 2012, the party nominee was Mitt Romney, Governor of Massachusetts. In 2008 it was John McCain. Conservatism used to be characterized by its emphasis on small government and individual freedom. It’s hard to believe that those ideals still exist. Indeed, President Reagan, the Godfather of modern conservative politics, stated in his 1989 farewell address, “An informed patriotism is what we want... we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions.”
Oh, how times have changed.
CPAC’s speakers spread falsehoods and perpetuated a poisonous narrative full of anger and vitriol. That’s not an informed patriotism. That’s blind rage. And institutions? It’s hard to name one that is not under siege today. The FBI and Justice Department have been belittled and slandered by the White House and congressional Republicans, the Judicial Branch has been politicized, and the free press is being viciously attacked for being just that–free. The current struggle for American democracy revolves around a Republican Party that embraces undemocratic principles, even if unintentionally. Democrats are by no means innocent. But for now, the rhetoric being espoused by the right should be the paramount concern. If we truly want to preserve a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it’s time to abandon political apathy and drive the Republican Party out of Congress. After all, the party of Reagan seems to have vanished already.
Shankara Narayana is a contributor for The Daily Campus. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .