CPAC Highlights The GOP's Authoritarian Fascism
Salon - March 1, 2021
If you want a perfect emblem of the current state of Republican politics, look to the story of how Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., spent this past weekend.
On Friday night, Gosar attended a conference for unvarnished fascists, where the main organizer gave a speech calling for America to be white nationalist country and openly celebrated the insurrection spearheaded by Donald Trump on Jan. 6. On Saturday, while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Gosar lamely claimed to denounce "white racism," clearly feeling that those magic words erased his participation in and support for those who are organizing white racists to take over the country through force.
It should be silly that Gosar believes that simply declaring "I denounce" is enough to negate all his concrete actions in favor of white nationalism, but the sad fact is that he has good reason to think it will work. After all, that's how things have been working for years in this country. Call it the fascism two-step: First, Republicans do something overtly fascist. Then they wave off concerns about their fascism by faking umbrage and relying on the widespread belief that "it can never happen here" to paint their critics as hysterical. Gosar was just a particularly blunt and obvious example, but it's the strategy that's been used throughout Trump's presidency and now is being heavily employed to minimize the attempted insurrection.
Much was written, both on social and plain old regular media, about how CPAC this year was cementing Trump's power over the GOP and turning the party into a cult of personality for their orange-hued buffoon of a leader. Indeed, it's both alarming and darkly funny, from the rapturous reception of his predictably whiny stemwinder to the ridiculous gold statue of Trump that was on display, which drew thousands of jokes about golden calves. But really, the Trump worship is only part of what is the bigger and much scarier story of CPAC.
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