I went to a CPAC meeting at some hotel in D.C. back in the mid-1980’s when the word ‘conservative’ was still just getting into the mainstream political lexicon. Actually, I didn’t listen to any of the speakers because I was too busy wandering around all the booths in the lobby selling t-shirts, books, pictures, coffee mugs and whatever other crap was being peddled to the crowd.
I think the headline speaker that day was Reagan, who was introduced to the audience as the ‘founder’ of modern conservatism, and he gave the same speech that he would give a month later at the annual meeting of the NRA.
This weekend CPAC is meeting again in D.C., and if I hadn’t seen a story about the appearance by Ted Cruz on my morning news aggregator website, I would have missed the whole shebang.
Talk about how an event has become a non-event.
I remember when the CPAC Presidential straw poll was considered a ‘must do’ activity for anyone who was hoping to run at the top of the ticket for the GOP. This year, even Karl Rove is saying the straw poll is ‘meaningless’ but that same terminology can probably be applied to Karl Rove as well.
The best story so far out of this year’s CPAC is the speech given by Ted Cruz who basically used his appearance to promote his podcast and was so blatant in his appeal that he actually asked the audience to register on his website while he was giving his spiel. This guy is so desperate for attention that he actually had the balls to claim that his podcasts were outdrawing CNN.
Meanwhile, while Trump is speaking tonight at the conservative shindig, DeSantis is nowhere to be found. Why not? Because he’s attending a retreat sponsored by the Club for Growth, a political lobby for GOP fat cats devoted to cutting taxes for the top 5 percent.
Where are these so-called promoters of ‘fiscal conservatism’ getting together? At the Breakers Hotel, which is just up the street from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago joint. Perfect, just perfect.
The problem for the Club for Growth bunch is that Trump already cut their taxes back in 2017. And if DeSantis agrees to a further tax cut for the super-rich, he’ll have some difficulty selling himself to the stalwarts still supporting the MAGA brand. Because the whole point of MAGA is the idea that slowly but surely, white America is being ‘left behind.’
On the other hand, since the connection between reality and what is promoted as a political narrative on the alt-right have little, if anything to do with each other, DeSantis could easily give his wealthy supporters another tax break but sell it as more protection for the white, middle class.
Keeping America white is the headline for a society which is becoming non-white, even if the reality of how quickly America’s racial mix is changing doesn’t really square with how racism continues to spread throughout Maga-land. Of the 25 states who gave their electoral votes to Trump in 2020, there are only 4 states – FL, LA, MS, TX – where whites are less than 60% of the statewide population. In the sixteen other red states, whites count at least 70% of the statewide racial mix.
So, while the overall racial profile of the country is supposed to become a majority non-white sometime in the next decade, it’s the Northeast and the West Coast where this non-white demographic profile is going to emerge - you won’t know this to be the case in most of the red and certainly the reddest political states.
Last night the CPAC-MAGA audience cheered again and again as Steve Bannon laced into Rupe Murdoch, telling the crowd that Fox News needed to be ‘destroyed.’ This comes from a guy who not only defrauded the donors whose money ended up in his pocket rather than being used to finish the Mexican wall, but owes his attorneys nearly a half-million bucks for the work they did to keep him out of jail.
But none of that matters to the people who paid $300 to attend this year’s CPAC event. It may be difficult for liberals to accept the fact that CPAC is really no different from the Shriners get together at New Orleans, or the Harley rally at Sturgis, which will celebrate its 82nd annual blowout on August 1st.
I’ve been to all three events in different years, and once the crowd starts screaming and stomping, they’re all exactly the same.