The theme this year, stupidly enough, is ‘America Uncanceled.’ But the only real way to get any kinda cred at the 2021 Conversative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, to make a stink about how you’ve totally been canceled.
One easy way? Refuse to wear a mask, even though the host city and the hotel both require it. “We’ve seen these conservative influencers who, it seems, are deliberately getting kicked out of CPAC by not wearing a mask,” The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer tells Molly Jong-Fast on the latest episode of The New Abnormal. “Because for them, CPAC is sort of just the place to see and be seen. They don't really care if they get kicked out. I mean, they don't want to hurt their brand by wearing a mask. And so we've seen a lot of these guys [showcase] the video of the ceremonial ouster from CPAC.”
“They're really against being canceled, but it actually seems like the culture of conservatives now—the merit badge is, you got canceled. Like, Marjorie Taylor Greeene is a celebrity now, because she got canceled,” adds producer Jesse Cannon.
But there’s a reason the CPAC posse is coalescing around cancelation. It’s because they can’t agree on much else. “The thing that I was really struck by, Jong-Fast says, “was that they're so light on policy… There's no nuts and bolts stuff.”
“The only policy discussion you hear at CPAC is when some lobbyist is clearly trying to plant something,” Sommer replies. “Theoretically, CPAC is supposed to be a bring[ing] together of the factions of the conservative movement. But this year I think everyone is so shell-shocked from 2020, they can't acknowledge that they lost. Because that would mean acknowledging that Trump lost. And everyone's just so terrified of Trump.”
The only thing left to fill the space is the performative resistance.
“So, apparently, to get this hotel, [the CPAC organizers] had to promise that people would wear masks,” Sommer says. “But at the same time you're inviting the people who are least willing to wear masks, to celebrate often how much they hate masks. So you have speakers like Ted Cruz saying how dumb it is to wear masks.”
Sommer adds, “So then occasionally in CPAC you have to have the organizers stand up and say, ‘we all love property rights, right?’ ‘Yeah!’ And they're like, ‘well, what about the right to have people a mask on your property?’ And everyone goes, ‘boooooo!!!’”
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