There was a time—not too long ago, I’m now ashamed to admit—when I frequently chanted this cheeky, “conservative” mantra: “If you’re a Republican before age 18, you have no heart. If you’re a Democrat past age 18, you have no brain.” I switched from Democrat to Republican shortly before my 20th birthday, so I suppose my brain was a bit late to develop. I switched back to Democrat at age 66, so I suppose I have no loyalties. I don’t; that is, not to a political party.
Anyway, back to the above adage. The point was, of course, that Democrats, being less mature in their reasoning, lead with their heart, their emotions. Democrats, Republicans often allege, fail to outgrow their empathetic side and move on to logically face hard adult realities.
Perhaps there was a time when there was a kernel of truth in that expression. In times past, one might have been able to make some kind of reasonable argument that the Republican Party was a home to logical, critical thinkers and that liberals were often overly motivated by emotions, particularly empathy. It was also reasonable for Democrats to argue that Republicans were often overly motivated by greedy self-interests.
But if that cliché implying Republicans’ superior reasoning might have contained some truth in days of old, it bears absolutely no resemblance to reality in the Trump era of the formerly grand Grand Old Party. In the Trump era, the adage might be properly amended as follows: “If you’re a Republican before or after age 18, you have no heart, no brain, and no concept of reality.”
In the Trump era, the adage might be properly amended as follows: “If you’re a Republican before or after age 18, you have no heart, no brain, and no concept of reality.”
This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) provides all the evidence any logical person should need to conclude that the Republican Party has abandoned all logic in favor of cultic madness.
The Nazi-ish Stage
The CPAC organizers’ denial that their odal-rune-shaped stage is meant as an intentional promotion of a white supremacist theme rings hollow. “Mere coincidence,” they say. Sure, and the Pentagon’s designers never intended to construct a five-sided building. When they finished, there it was, with one extra side. Hmm? How’d that happen? The odal rune, very similar to the infamous Nazi Swastika, was a favorite ornament worn on Nazi SS uniforms, and also is a symbol currently and commonly used by white supremacist groups worldwide. As most who pay any attention to history now know, Nazism was propelled by bizarre cultish beliefs. The Republican Party is increasingly being usurped by cultists who avow Nazi-like Aryan superiority.
As has been the case for many years now, Jay “Hiroaki” Aeba was a featured speaker at this year’s Trump-dominated CPAC event. According to a Daily Beast article, “Aeba’s guru, Ryuho Okawa, claims to be a Venusian god named El Cantare who created life on earth—and is also a reincarnation of the Buddha.” Aeba has claimed having “channeled” the spirits of Quetzalcoatl, Bashar al-Assad, Natalie Portman, and of course, Donald Trump. Yes, apparently those “channels” connect to the living as well as the dead.
Not surprisingly, QAnon played a rather prominent role at America’s kookiest convocation of conspiracy cranks. Angela Stanton King, a Q devotee—and car-theft-ring member whom President Trump pardoned from prison—at this year’s CPAC called for a full-on investigation into Qanon’s claims that leading Democratic politicians and Hollywood elites eat children and drink their blood as a means of avoiding aging. To that bizarre blather, the CPAC crowd cheered.
According to Kat Kerr, an evangelical “prophetess,” Jesus Himself was going to make a divine appearance at the holy CPAC gathering: “The Republican Party and Donald Trump are the only people who stand for Christianity in American politics.”
And, of course, it wasn’t sufficient to have the Orange God there in person. On the very first day of the conference, into the midst of adoring, cheering zealots a life-size golden statue of the new messiah was wheeled. It was weirdly appropriate. After all, white evangelicals have repeatedly labeled Trump a modern-day version of ancient Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, and that king had a 90-ft. tall statue of himself erected for all his subjects to bow down to. Not surprisingly, Israel’s God wasn’t too happy about that self-aggrandizement, but that part of the story seems to have been overlooked at a conference that is long on celebrity and short on certitude.
Yes, in the Trump era, conservatism—political and religious—has become synonymous with malice, magic, mysticism, mystery, money, and mendacity. But maturity? Most certainly not.