The 'lunacy' at CPAC 2021 shows why Democrats should go ‘on the defensive’ in 2022
Many Never Trump conservatives were hoping that when now-President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Republicans would abandon Trumpism. Instead, they doubled down on it, and the recent 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas was a celebration of Trumpian extremism — from anti-vaxxer paranoia to the Big Lie about the 2020 election to praising the January 6 insurrectionists as heroic. According to liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent, CPAC 2021 should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats and encourage them to do everything imaginable to prevent a red wave in the 2022 midterms.
Sargent, this week in his column, explains, "Back in the dark ages of the last century, the right-wing culture war was often described with a reference to the three Gs: God, guns and gays. These days, the right-wing culture war is perhaps better described with three Vs: vaccine derangement, validation of White racial innocence, and valorization of insurrectionists. Over the weekend, the Conservative Political Action Conference treated the nation to a parade of such obsessions."
The lineup at CPAC 2021 in Dallas ranged from former President Donald Trump to Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to a QAnon supporter: Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
"We were told the large percentage of Americans who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 is a cause for ecstatic celebration," Sargent notes. "We were told 'Marxist' Democrats want to indoctrinate your children to be ashamed of their whiteness. And, of course, we were told that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. This zombie lie was delivered to CPAC by the former president himself, who previewed this by telling Fox News that the January 6 rioters were 'peaceful people' and that they are this current moment's true victims of injustice. If there's one thing that all this lunacy confirmed, it's that such culture-warring will be central to GOP efforts in 2022."
Sargent notes that the 2010 and 2014 midterms — back when Barack Obama was president — far-right Republicans successfully used culture war fear-mongering to rally their base.
"Today's vaccine denial and valorization of insurrectionists carry serious echoes of the Tea Party during the Barack Obama presidency," Sargent recalls. "In 2010, protesters confronted Democratic lawmakers with vile slurs, and Republicans told endless lies about 'death panels.' In 2014, the GOP went all-in on the lie that Obama would allow terrorists to import Ebola across our border. Republicans were in no way penalized for any of this. Instead, they won two smashing midterm victories."
Sargent wraps up his column by urging Democrats to put Republicans "on the defensive" in the 2022 midterms.
"This might include asking anti-critical race theory Republicans why they think our cadets are such snowflakes that they must be shielded from hard truths about their country's past," Sargent writes. "Or asking why Republicans are doing far too little to encourage GOP voters to endure a little pinprick to protect their friends, relatives and neighbors from dying of a deadly disease. Or why they're trying to bury the truth about their own party's complicity in an effort to sack the U.S. government with mob violence."
The columnist adds, "Ask yourself this: Why is it that Democrats spend far more time denying lies — that they want to indoctrinate your children with White shame and send jackbooted government thugs to kick down your doors and force vaccines on you — than Republicans spend denying any of those charges against them, which are true?"
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