Television these days seems to be filled with a lot of creepy stuff—shows about cops, crime, hospitals, etc. As a light sleeper I can’t watch this crap. I sat down tonight to eat some dinner after a very satisfying run, and turned on the prole box for some light distraction, and, finding my options limited—most of the shows being of the creepy variety—ended up watching the CPAC conference.
These Republicrats never cease to be entertaining. When I resigned myself to watching this dross, George Will was at the podium, offering up thought-provoking quotes from Alexis de Tocqueville about the tendency of democratic societies to turn into soft tyrannies. On this point, many commentators would be in agreement: H.L. Mencken, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Richard Weaver, and, apparently, George Will. It’s fascinating, however, that if you mention such ideas to most conservatives, they will sneer at you. Democracy is their false idol, and one dare not speak an ill word about it. But put them on the losing end of a presidential election and suddenly they start to see the point. Fair is foul and foul is fair, etc.
Then it came time for the presentation of the John M. Ashbrook Award, named in honor of a congressman who challenged Richard Nixon from the right in 1972. A video tribute to this late congressman played first, extolling his virtues and crediting him with paving the way for Ronald Reagan in 1976 and 1980. Anyone who watched the reaction to Ron Paul’s campaign in 2008 must surely have been struck by the irony here.
The Ashbrook Award was given to Roy Innis, National President for the Congress of Racial Equality. Can you say “identity politics”? Let’s be honest: this African-American was chosen as a counterpoint to Barack Obama. In the age of television, image is all that seems to matter. Call me cynical; you’d have a point. But the timing is a little too perfect, if you ask me. And of course, the occasion was used to claim the true mantle of Martin Luther King, Jr. A bit presumptuous, no? The same behavior from liberals provokes sneers from the right.
Innis advocated bringing the Tea Party into the Republican fold, which doesn’t really upset me, given my a-political inclinations, along with a pretty strong sentiment that the Tea Party is basically conservatism on xenophobic steroids. More insidious was Innis’ contention that third parties are harmful. (George Will made a similarly ridiculous point that the two party system represents free thinking, which assumes two fantastic ideas: 1) that there are only two possible solutions to any given problem and 2) that there is an appreciable difference between the two contemporary major political parties.) The goal is to win, and that has always been the goal in politics. Even Benjamin Franklin, the primordial Boobus Americanus, understood this.
In this midst of all this, someone—it might have been the master of ceremonies—made a crack about out of control government spending under the Obama administration. This from the party that just managed eight years of spending that outstripped Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the Vietnam War. How short the American memory is!
All in all, it was an entertaining twenty minutes. Politics is the same as ever, and as unworthy of my participation as ever. So what are you going to do to improve society? the Statists usually ask me. That’s easy. I will learn, read, and talk about ideas. I will share ideas with others, debating them and feeling for the truth as we paw our way through the dark night of human existence. Politics does not determine ideas. Rather, ideas determine what the politicians do, since they merely moisten their fingers and feel for the direction of the wind.