UPDATE: Whew, Twitter just lit me up because there’s apparently some debate about what actually happened. Here’s the sweetest one:
And here’s the Twitchy piece that “debunks” the booing. As one respondent to the below tweet noted, “That’s…. that’s even worse.” I stand by the spirit of what I wrote below. I’ll amend the language accordingly.
There’s a schism in conservatism that began before the election of Donald Trump and that should have abated by the end of the first year of his presidency, but it hasn’t. Perhaps the polarized wings have always been under the big conservative tent, but at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the divide between what one clever journalist called “Old CPAC/NewCPAC” was on stark display. Just look at this:
Superb Old CPAC/New CPAC moment:
A panelist criticizes The Wall on the grounds that it'll require extensive use of eminent domain to seize private property on the border.
People in the crowd: "BOOOO! BUILD THAT WALL! BUILD THAT WALL!"
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 23, 2018
Let me just be clear: conservatives do not applaud the federal government arbitrarily seizing citizens’ land for their projects, national security or otherwise. So that’s pretty weird.
And I know the virulently anti-Trump right likes to pat itself on the back as they sit on their self-appointed moral high ground never acknowledging that they were ready to cede victory to Hillary Clinton — a true criminal — out of spite because Trump is someone they disdain so vehemently they’ve begun to sound like progressives themselves (were I a meaner sort, I’d start sharing side-by-side tweets of progressives and anti-Trump conservatives to prove it). It’s a little shocking.
And just as shocking were the CPAC panel-goers who literally booed the idea that the naturalization of immigrants (or maybe just the idea that Mexican immigrants would be good GOP voters – see above) is a touching ceremony and embracing it could be a pragmatic win for conservatives. (Note: while there’s debate about just exactly what was booed, Wegmann stands by his original tweet):
Loud boos for Fred Barnes saying that Mexicans coming to the U.S. have a lot ideologically in common with conservatives.
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) February 23, 2018
Let me just be clear: conservatives do not hate people for wanting so badly to become Americans they submit to a long period of waiting, a series of civics testing, and finally a ceremony commemorating their rebirth as citizens. We relish sharing this great experiment of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” and welcome those who who want to become legal citizens to help us endure so that this same government “shall not perish from the earth,” as a great American once wrote.
The boos at CPAC were not only embarrassing and borderline xenophobic, they were also patently idiotic. You want to shrink the Republican party? This is how you do it.
What’s hard to wrap the brain around is that the rhetorical flourishes used by the passionately anti-Trump people, the raving left in the media and on the Hill, and the boo-happy haters of people wanting to legally become American citizens, are all the same. And they all damage conservatism in their small-mindedness, their tendency toward pejorative name-calling rather than reasoned debate, and their “sorry not sorry” attitude of making shocking points because “eff you, that’s why.”
We’re seeing it with the gun debate right now. As RedState’s Kimberly Ross wrote just today, the NRA is adopting the same tenor of the anti-NRA people and it’s not productive (and more than a little tiresome).
If we are to be the level-headed side, disagreeing with others but not pushing an emotional narrative, then the NRA needs to tone down its rhetoric. It is not helping the cause.
“…their fate will be failure and they will perish in the political flames of their own fires. We are the National Rifle Association of America, and we are freedom’s safest place.”
We are not engaged in a civil war, though some would certainly wish that to be the case. We hold differing opinions than our fellow Americans, some who don’t own guns, don’t want guns, and don’t understand why others might. You certainly don’t have to share their anti-gun views, but you should respect them.
Yes, you should.
The hyper-partisanship seen throughout that video does the NRA no favors, either. Gun ownership isn’t just for registered Republicans. It is not only for those who voted for or who like Trump. It is for everyone. What better way to keep people from being even slightly sympathetic to your cause than rejecting any criticism of a deeply-flawed, questionable individual like the 45th president?
It is not helpful.
I really could not agree with Kim more.
Trump won because he met the progressive left on their own nasty battlefield and gave back twice as hard as he took. It was a style and attitude that rubbed many conservatives the wrong way. Those most bothered by it on the GOP side are, oddly, using the same tactics against Trump now, all the while saying they hate him for the very style they’ve adopted.
As Kim said, it’s not helpful.
And it has led to that weird wing of the conservative base feeling emboldened enough to really come out of the shadows and hit back twice as hard — not just because Trump has done it, but because his detractors have done it, too.
The tone was set during the debate last year and unless you stop for a minute and really think about who might be affected by that piece you write, or that tweet you send, or that cheering you do against legal immigrants becoming naturalized (or maybe just against the idea they’d make good Republicans), you’ve picked up that same partisan weapon. And are using it as a clumsy, blunt tool to tear down instead of rebuild with new citizens, new security, a new economy and a new future.
And until CPAC starts inviting guests who don’t draw out the shadow lurkers who can’t even celebrate the great opportunity this country offers to anyone who might want to legally join and help her grow, I won’t be back (even if it was just Mexican immigrants).