Tag: cpac
Donald Trump

From Trump And Biden, Competing Visions Of Our Past -- And Future

“I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.” And just to make sure everyone in the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference and those watching at home got the message, former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump repeated that last line: "I am your retribution.”

Trump revisited his “American carnage” 2017 inauguration speech to again paint a picture of an angry and divided America — with a promise to lead a charge into battle if elected.

On the same weekend, President Joe Biden traveled to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, that day on March 7, 1965, when marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge heading to the capital city of Montgomery for voting rights and for justice in the name of civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson — who was killed by an Alabama state trooper — were met with violence from law enforcement as the world watched.

The result of the marchers’ resolve and sacrifice was the Voting Rights Act, signed by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson on Aug. 6, 1965.

“No matter how hard some people try, we can’t just choose to learn what we want to know and not what we should know,” Biden said Sunday. “We should learn everything — the good, the bad, the truth — of who we are as a nation.”

And, after renewing his call to strengthen those same voting rights citizens had demanded that day in 1965, Biden concluded: “My fellow Americans, on this Sunday of our time, we know where we’ve been and we know, more importantly, where we have to go: forward together.”

At CPAC at National Harbor, Maryland., last week, the speaker’s list included Jair Bolsonaro, the former president of Brazil, whose followers attacked his country’s capital city after his loss; and Kari Lake, still in election denial about her own November defeat in Arizona’s gubernatorial race. Notice the theme?

Attendees could choose between sessions on “Finish the Wall, Build the Dome” or “No Chinese Balloon Above Tennessee,” but there was no room for a lesson on the American history made on that Selma bridge 58 years ago.

In Selma, where devastating tornado damage provided a backdrop for a community that has never given up in the face of crises, one of those marking the day with another pilgrimage to the bridge was 67-year-old Sheyann Webb-Christburg, who, as a little girl, was a civil rights activist and one of those tear-gassed and chased by troops on March 7, 1965.

After she attended her first church meeting and heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others speak about the fight for freedom, she disobeyed worried and wary parents and kept returning. She was a child who asked questions, and she knew right from wrong, which led her to the bridge that day.

Traumatized by her experience, by seeing how low her country would go to maintain its system of white supremacy, she ran home and wrote about her own funeral arrangements. But she has never wavered.

“In many ways, I have felt hopeless,” Webb-Christburg told Politico. “But there have been other reasons where hope still prevails with me. And it still does.”

It was a message of light born out of the darkness no child should experience. But would her historic and optimistic truth, which she has shared with young people, be axed from history lessons for children the age she was back then?

Would it be judged “woke” by the likes of the Saturday CPAC crowd that cheered Trump’s dark vision?

The story of March 7, 1965, and what followed had good guys and bad guys. Does the lack of support for recognizing those of all races working for equal rights under the law, then and now, put you on the side of the troopers bashing men, women and children with batons and the legislators who voted “no” on voting rights?

It sure seems that way, since picking sides is not that hard.

Putting politics aside

Though it’s hard to believe, there was a time when Democrats and Republicans occasionally put politics aside, recognizing that, despite differences, some things were above partisanship, some events were too important a part of American history and must be remembered and honored if our country’s values were to mean anything at all.

In fact, in 2015, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Selma march, then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy went. The California Republican may have been pushed, after the lack of GOP leadership representation prompted criticism. But he went, and he wasn’t the only Republican in the delegation to pay his respects.

On that day in 2015, then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama walked across the bridge with former GOP President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Also in attendance was Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who died in 2020.

Who could forget the image of the young Lewis, wearing a trench coat and toting a backpack, marching bravely in the front of the line in 1965, and, despite brutal beatings by troopers that cracked his skull, reached out to help the women and others being trampled and attacked during peaceful protest.

While president, Bush had in 2006 signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act with broad Republican support. But since Supreme Court justices he appointed struck down key provisions of that landmark bill in the 2013 Shelby decision, laws to bolster voting rights — including one bearing Lewis’ name — have failed to make it through Congress.

I have to wonder if McCarthy, now the speaker of the House who kowtows to Trump and fringe members of his party, would be proud to admit he was ever in Selma that day in 2015. That McCarthy handed over Jan. 6, 2021, tapes of the Capitol riot, conducted by a MAGA mob, to a Fox News host he knew would excuse rioters who vandalized a tribute to Lewis, says everything about them — and him.

We know where Alabama GOP Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a former college football head coach, was last week — at CPAC, serving up his usual word salad about the “far left” and “crazies” and making false claims about schools not teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Tuberville might not be able to identify the three branches of government or why the Allies fought in World War II, but he sure knows enough to skip an important event in the state he represents so he can shout “woke” at folks who have trouble defining it.

This past weekend, the choice for our leaders — and Americans — could not have been clearer.

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call.

Matt Schlapp

Plaintiff Who Charged CPAC Boss With 'Groping' Discloses His Identity

In early January, the Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger reported that a former staffer for MAGA Republican Herschel Walker's 2022 U.S. Senate campaign was alleging that right-wing GOP activist Matt Schlapp had sexually harassed him — an allegation that Schlapp has denied. Schlapp is a major figure in Republican politics, chairing the American Conservative Union and serving as the main organizer for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The former Walker staffer, now 39, agreed to be interviewed by the Beast, but only on condition of anonymity. Two months later, however, he has finally revealed his identity.

His name, according to CNN, is Carlton Huffman. The former Walker staffer agreed to let CNN publish his name after a judge, on Wednesday, March 8, ruled that his civil lawsuit against Schlapp could not proceed anonymously. Huffman is asking for more than $9 million in damages.

Huffman alleged to CNN, "On October 19, 2022, Matt Schlapp attempted to take my dignity, but he did not take my voice. Today, I reclaim that voice, and for every victim of sexual assault, I am here to say there is justice and there will be accountability. I look forward to our day in court."

Attendance at CPAC was down this year even though the speakers included two Republican presidential candidates: former President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley (ex-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations). Others featured at CPAC 2023 ranged from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Some pundits have attributed the fall in attendance to the fact that CPAC has become so hyper-MAGA, excluding other conservative viewpoints. But others have wondered if the Schlapp sexual harassment scandal had anything to do with the decline.

A GOP operative, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told CNN, "It's a scandal. If you are thinking about running for president and you're not Donald Trump, you can't afford a misstep. You can't afford to be linked to a scandal."

Schlapp is married to fellow Republican Party activist and former Trump White House staffer Mercedes Schlapp.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Nikki Haley

Young Republicans Hate To Hear Their Elders Constantly Crying "Woke!"

Young Republicans support the ongoing culture wars currently driving their beloved party's policies, but the politically engaged youngsters just wish their more seasoned colleagues would stop saying "woke,"Rolling Stone reports.

Rolling Stone reporter Kara Voght headed to the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland and spoke with several eager Generation Z and millennial GOPers, where she discovered although many of them support the policies pushed by their elders — they don't always support the language behind those policies.

The Independentreports:

The phrase "woke" and to "stay woke" is not new — it began appearing in the 1940s and was first used by African Americans to "literally mean becoming woken up or sensitised to issues of justice," says linguist and lexicographer Tony Thorne.

Now, right-wing conservatives have completely "weaponized" the word as a tool to push discriminatory laws and policies.

Rolling Stonereports:

During her speech on Friday, 2024 hopeful Nikki Haley deemed "wokeness" a "virus more dangerous than any pandemic." Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) argued Americans ought not to be governed by "deeply weird, nauseously woke people who hate George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Seuss, and Mr. Potato Head." Ron DeSantis, grand poobah of the anti-woke, wasn’t there, but Moms for Liberty, the DeSantis-championing "parents' rights" group, was, its members milling outside the main hall in navy "STOP WOKE" T-shirts.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis incorporated the word into his proposed "Stop W.O.K.E. Act" last year, which aims to "restrict race-related education in workplaces, schools and colleges."

However, young people within the party are clearly vocalizing their issue with the term.

Community College of Rhode Island student, Evan Masse, told Voght, "We don't really use 'woke' as our term."

Echoing Masse, managing director of Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends, Chris Johnson, who believes the annual gathering has become "political entertainment to a certain degree," added, "I think a lot of older folks use it if they don't really know what they're referring to. It's a catchall colloquialism."

Still, the youthful GOPers were careful to emphasize their understanding and support around the intention behind the usage of the word, as well as its influence on "the market basket of education- and gender-related policies being passed in red states across the country," but Rolling Stone reports, "they just really wish the Olds would stop saying 'woke.'"

Recent college graduate and staff writer at the National Review, Nate Hochman, mentioned his recent essay in which he noted "his intention to abandon the term 'woke' — one that describes a 'pang of embarrassment'" he felt whenever “boomer-friendly media presents wokeness in 'will-you-get-a-load-of-this-shit' segments."

Brigham Young University student, Quincy Azimi-Tabrizi, voiced her desire for the party to simply use "nicer rhetoric."

Also the secretary of National Federation of College Republicans, she told Voght the word "contradicts her party's need to expand its narrow hold on socially liberal Gen Z."

She continued, "I think that a lot of young people — when older conservative say 'woke' — they feel very attacked. You’re turning off a younger movement of the party by labeling all young people as 'woke.' So absolutely, I would very much disencourage that."

According to Rolling Stone, some young CPAC attendees "worry that going so hard on 'woke' will turn off upcoming generations of voters already disinclined to support the GOP."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Michael Knowles

Far-Right Radio Host Demands 'Eradication' Of Transgenderism In CPAC Speech

Conservative political commentator, Michael Knowles, called for the eradication of transgender people during his 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech, The Daily Beast reports.

Writer Alejandra Caraballo tweeted a clip from Knowles' CPAC speech, writing, "Michael Knowles is openly calling for genocide against trans people at CPAC." She then included the Daily Wire host's quote: "Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely."

The Beastreports:

Saturday does not mark the first time Knowles' has used this anti-transgender rhetoric. Just last week, Knowles' responded to backlash he faced for a similar transphobic comment calling for a ban on "transgenderism."

Last month on The Michael Knowles Show, he said, "I don't know how you could have a genocide of transgender people because genocide refers to genes, it refers to genetics, it refers to biology. And the whole point of transgenderism is that it has nothing to do with biology."

Additionally, during his CPAC address, Knowles asserted, "If transgenderism is false, as it is; if men really can't become women, as they cannot; then it's false for everybody, too." He continued, "And if it's false, then we should not indulge it. Especially since that indulgence requires taking away the rights and customs of so many people."

Caraballo directed another tweet towards the right-wing commentator, saying, "What exactly do you think 'eradication' entails? If you ever wondered how we get from hate speech to genocide, this is it. This isn't some fringe figure, this is a Daily Wire host speaking at CPAC. This is how pogroms start."

Watch the video below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.