Josh Hawley thinks he can make telling his base to stop watching porn a major political campaign

As his ally Ted Cruz launches another conservative crusade against a freakin' puppet, Sen. Josh Hawley, most famous for abetting an attempt to topple our nation's government, announces his own new political theme will be "masculinity."

Yes, this is Josh Hawley we're talking about. Yes, this is the campaign theme he's going to adopt after he claimed in a speech that more men are watching porn and playing video games these days because of "years of being told" that "their manhood is the problem."

We still don't know how that might work, by the way. One might think that current generations are playing more video games and watching more porn these days (if they actually are) due to the notable trend of The Internet Exists. Apparently, though, conservatives believe their menfolk are drowning themselves in Mario Cart and internet porn because the local Costco refused to take "three wicked flexes, five grunts, and one opening of a really tight screw-on cap" in lieu of payment.

Or something. "Our manhood is under attack" is one of those weird conservative tics that is both so omnipresent and so poorly described that it's become something of a chupacabra to the rest of us. Maybe it exists, maybe it doesn't, all we know is that in conservative circles it's known for marathoning PornHub while whining about how unappreciated it feels.

In an AXIOS interview, Hawley attempted to explain what the hell he's on about:

"Well, a man is a father. A man is a husband. A man is somebody who takes responsibility."

Yeah, okay. That narrows it down. Not quite the crack narration of "man, woman, person, camera, TV," but it definitely qualifies as a series of words. Feels a bit like the first-pass lyrics to a Disney Mulan song?

"I think you put together lack of jobs, you put together fatherlessness, you put together the social messages that we teach our kids in school, I think we've got to confront that and its effects."

Conservative men are watching porn because they're sad about what their kids are learning in school? Okay, now you've really lost me. I'm beginning to think Hawley arrived at his new theme of "masculinity" by picking words out of a hat.

Now, there is something that's a bit troubling about Sedition Josh's gravitation toward "masculinity" as his own self-chosen political theme. Josh Hawley is widely known to be very ambitious. Hawley has already taken multiple actions to ally himself with the Big Lie, claiming election fraud that doesn't exist in service to an attempt to nullify a U.S. election to allow a would-be strongman to retain power regardless of the vote totals.

And the movement Hawley has been attempting to wedge himself into the leadership of considers hyper-masculinity to be a very important thematic element. Paranoia over supposed lost masculinity both helped create and helped sustain European fascism of the last century, a sort of "brittle manhood" widely acknowledged by scholars as a central theme of fascist thought.

Donald Trump was a spectacularly unlikely exemplar of that "new man" idolized by the fascist right. He may have been an out-of-shape golf cheat who couldn't masculine his way down a flight of stairs, but he was unrelentingly crude, was openly contemptuous and cruel toward women, and personified the sort of crass belligerence that the conservative far-right idolizes as a path toward restoring male dominance over the too-uppity womenfolk. The man may have been the first president to hint at his own penis size during a televised presidential debate.

Who are the avatars of conservative masculinity today? Thickheaded bullies who don faux-military apparel and storm government offices while waving flags in support of people who are worse. Hawley wants to insert himself into that discussion as he did the Big Lie itself, latching on as a way of convincing the common rabble that whatever they believe, he's willing to shout about it.

But Hawley may, ahem, be misunderstanding what his supporters are yelling. You're going to climb up in front of a crowd of male Trump supporters and tell them the problem is that they're watching too much porn these days? Really?

Ehhhh. Well, good luck with that.

Really, though, while it once may have been uncanny how Donald Trump and his team managed to bumble into each of the core themes of fascism solely, or at least it seemed at the time, due to his own uncontrollable narcissism and insistence on surrounding himself with conservative C-listers, there is nothing bumbling about the Republican adaptation of each of those themes one after another, polishing them, assembling them, and marketing them as what the party now stands for—the beliefs that its candidates must abide by to remain in good standing with the movement. The explicit propaganda of the Big Lie, claiming that the last American presidential election was "rigged" or "stolen" as means of undermining a democratic vote that the party knows well and true that it lost, has now become party mandate. The themes of a great replacement jeopardizing American greatness (and whiteness), "attacks" on white conservative masculinity, and above all the growing belief among the Republican base and their pundits that violence is both justified and may now be required to reform American according to their beliefs—these are all overtly fascist themes.

It is not likely that Hawley will be that new fascist avatar, no matter how much he wants it. His performances are too insincere. His contempt for the other is too obviously pantomimed, not at all like the true guttural hate that Trump and his top allies revel in. Hawley may be a prep-school version of a hoodlum, but the movement wants the real thing.

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