At CPAC, A Fractured and Chaotic Conservative Movement

At CPAC, A Fractured and Chaotic Conservative Movement


It’s The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The Conservative Political Action Conference
or CPAC is taking place this week in National Harbor, Maryland. It is an annual conference that the American
Conservative Union started back in 1973. One of its main founders was the conservative
intellectual William F. Buckley. On Friday, President Donald Trump was one
of its featured speakers. We’ve confirmed a record number, so important,
of circuit judges. And we are going to be putting in a lot more. They will interpret the law as written. And we’ve confirmed an incredible new Supreme
Court justice, a great man, Neil Gorsuch. Right? We’ve passed massive, biggest in history,
tax cuts and reforms. Other speakers included Vice President Mike
Pence, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and Marion Le Pen, the granddaughter
of the founder of France’s National Front far right party, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Joining me now to discuss this year’s CPAC
in the context of the US conservative movement in Larry Grossberg. He is the Morris Davis Distinguished Professor
in communications and cultural studies at the University of North Carolina. His latest book, which was just published
by Pluto Press, is Under the Cover of Chaos: Trump and the Battle for the American Right. Welcome, Larry. Thank you. Pleasure to be here. Larry, let’s take up some of the themes that
came up in President Trump’s speech today. Well, this was obviously an election speech. I think the Republicans are very nervous about
the upcoming elections for all sorts of reasons that lots of journalists and reporters have
been talking about. On one hand, one of the major themes was get
out and vote. Trump said, “We have to fight in 2018 like
never before,” and Trump talked about the fact that usually the party in the White House
loses the midterm elections, which he then talked about and blamed on, oddly enough,
the success of the White House, whoever’s in office, which seems odd, but more likely
the kind of exhaustion and complacency that follows. The most interesting theme, I think, came
in Pence’s talk, in a kind of hidden way. There was a very surprising moment when Pence,
when the vice president said, “We are too polarized. There’s too much division and anger, and therefore
we lose sight of who we are. And that there’s more that unites us than
divides us. We need to reconnect.” This is obviously something people have been
saying about the United States polity for some time, but I don’t think Pence was talking
about the United States. I think Pence was talking about the conservative
movement and the Republican Party. I think the main theme of both of their talks
was the need to unite as a conservative movement because it is, in fact, so fractured. It’s interesting, because one of the functions,
probably the major function of CPAC, and certainly the major function of the American Conservative
Union when it was formed, William Buckley was one of its founders, was the idea of conservatism
as a kind of umbrella movement that could encompass lots of different versions of conservatism. This was, of course, Ronald Reagan’s 11th
Commandment. “Never attack another Republican. We all belong under the same umbrella.” That sense of unity was always somewhat limited,
and in particular, the American Conservative Union at CPAC has always had a hard time dealing
with what I call and many people before me have called the reactionary conservatives,
that is, Buchanan in the past, Patrick Buchanan, the John Birch Society, the KKK. These groups were always at best on the margins
of the ACU and CPAC, and of course, as many people have talked about, they’ve now entered
into the mainstream of conservatism. This has become a difficult problem for conservatives
because they have very different agendas, very different styles and very different politics. Larry, you’ve written about how Trump fits
into the conservative movement in the US. So, based on this speech and how the CPAC
crowd is responding, do you think he’s now been accepted based on his, I guess, conduct
in the last year? That’s a question. I’m an academic, so before I answer questions
like that, I like to have some evidence and data. I don’t know, and I think we won’t know the
answer to that, in part, until we see whether or not the variety of groups of conservatism
in this country come out and support the Republicans in 2018. I think that will be the real test because
I think Trump is the perfect figure for this kind of chaos in conservatism for the moment. If you listen to his speech and if you listen
to Pence’s speech, two things were very interesting and obvious to me. They listed all their accomplishments. Fine, but almost all their accomplishments
had nothing to do with Congress. The only two things Trump has managed to accomplish
with the cooperation of Congress have been, and they’re important, the appointment of
a Supreme Court justice and the tax reform, tax cuts that he put in place. Otherwise, he’s been at odds. He has not been able to unify Congress, and
of course, the upcoming election is all about Congress. The question is, why is Trump the figure that,
for me at least, emerged to power at just this moment when the conservative movement
is so at odds with itself? If you listen, the other thing about both
Pence’s and Trump’s speech, if you listen to it carefully, was that almost all the accomplishments
they listed for having done over the past year were very much out of the tradition of
what we used to call the new right, the Reagan to second Bush administrations. The version of conservatism that William Buckley
put forth, a kind of anti communist, pro global capitalist. Most of their accomplishments were the things
Republicans, including tax cuts, have been talking about for 20 or 30 years. Even immigration has been on their agenda
for 20 or 30 years. In many ways, Trump’s politics are not a break
with conservatism in the past. Many of the things that the left accuses him
of doing, lying, attacking the media, they were part of what Reagan and Bush did all
the time as well, even back to Nixon. We accused Reagan of being the great liar. All of these conservative Republicans have
gone after the media. But Trump has brought something new to the
mix, which is a style. He’s taken the style that in a sense the Tea
Party has done, in his performance, in the kind of emotional way he talks about these
issues, in which when he talks about gun control, he sounds emotionally like the NRA. When he talks about immigration, he sounds
emotionally like the Tea Party. So, it’s that, I think, combination of a kind
of reactionary conservatism style when he talks about draining the swamp and throwing
out the playbook, and when he talks, he and Pence both made a very explicit, careful attempt
to identify themselves with the common people and with common sense. Pence described himself as the Joseph A. Bank
wing of the White House. He talked about growing up in his house and
when a $1,000 bonus meant Christmas. Oddly enough, his wife talked about it and
said that if he could buy one thing, he would buy a horse. One would think that the vice president of
the United States could afford a horse. Presidents have had horses in the White House,
but that sense of connecting to the common people. Trump also started out by saying, “I think
I’ve proven I’m a conservative.” Kept talking about common sense, which apparently
the Democrats don’t have any of. Talked about how CPAC, the people in the audience,
were what he called the forgotten people. It’s that construction, as if the people at
CPAC were what Republicans talk about as the white working class, which I doubt. And constructing the right, the conservatives
as operating with common sense,and the Democrats, as he said, having only one platform, which
is to resist, ignoring of course, the fact that during Obama’s administration, the entire
platform of the Republican Party, including the conservatives, was summarized in the word
resist. There is a real sense, I think, of trying
to walk a thin line between these fractured groups of the conservative movement, and a
real attempt to bring them together and unify them because there are a lot of conservatives,
I think, who don’t like Trump stylistically, ethically, morally, don’t like his politics,
don’t think that he has kept his promises. He said he was not going to engage in silly
wars, but we are now engaged in more wars around the world than we ever have been, think
he’s bought into global capitalism when he has. So, there are a lot of conflicts. I think Trump was trying to stylistically
and emotionally bring them together. Now, let’s talk, Larry, a little bit about
the other speakers that were there that brought a certain conservative element to CPAC, and
that’s Marion Le Pen, for example. She comes from what is considered to be the
far right party in France, The National Front. Here’s a clip where she talks about how France
has lost its independence. I want America first for the American people. I want Britain first for the British people,
and I want France first for the French people. French are not free to choose their policies,
whether they are economic, monetary, on immigration or even diplomacy. Our freedom is now in the hands of the European
Union. Larry, what does her appearance at this year’s
CPAC tell you about how the conservative movement in the US has evolved in the past 10 years
or so? I think it has evolved into more and more
disagreements and fractures. I know, I do have friends, interlocutors,
people I speak to, and I do follow various organizations and groups in the conservative
movement. There were lots of people who were opposed
to bringing Le Pen to CPAC. We have to remember that in 2016, when Trump
was scheduled to appear at CPAC, there was a brouhaha about it, over whether or not he
should appear at CPAC. There are these very deep divisions and there
are some committed conservatives who would not go along with the kind of Steve Bannon,
ultra nationalism of the Le Pens, and some of the authoritarian populist movements in
Europe. There are many who are very nervous about
some of the racism of some of the conservative groups. I think bringing Le Pen in was a kind of gesture
to some of those groups because CPAC’s function and the ACU’s function has always been to
try to hold the movement together. And so, it brings in the NRA, and it has a
memory of Billy Graham, and it makes nice to all the different groups. So, I think Le Pen’s presence there was a
kind of gesture to those people who support this kind of what is ultimately ultra nationalist
and racist anti immigration policies. I’m not saying that all anti immigration policies
or supporters are racist, but I think the Le Pens are, and I think there are versions
of it that are deeply racist. I think bringing that in is a kind of gesture
of unity. And they’re trying to walk a thin line between
these groups. Larry, I thank you very much for your insights
and I hope you join us again as we continue this discussion about the conservatives in
the United States. Thank you for having me. And thank you for joining us here on The Real
News Network.

Local vape shops get a sigh of relief

Local vape shops get a sigh of relief


FOR LOCAL VAPE SHOPS — WHO WERE BRACING FOR A BAN ON FLAVORED E- CIGARETTES. ((ADAM/2EAST)) ENFORCEMENT OF THE BAN WAS SET TO BEGIN TOMORROW. BUT THE COURTS HAVE BLOCKED THAT – FOR NOW. ((ADAM/DBOX)) CHRISTIAN GARZONE JOINS US LIVE OUTSIDE A VAPE SHOP ON MONROE AVENUE IN ROCHESTER. CHRISTIAN — A BIT OF AN EXHALE FROM FOLKS BEHIND YOU, NO? ((CHRISTIAN/LIVE)) ADAM, VAPE SHOPS WE SPOKE TO ARE THRILLED. JUDGES RULED TODAY THE STATE IS “PREVENTED FROM ENFORCING” THE BAN FOR THE TIME BEING. RIGHT NOW, VAPING STORES ARE OPEN AND CELEBRATING… BUT THEY STILL LOST QUITE A BIT FINANCALLY…AND ARE WONDERING WHAT LAWMAKERS WILL DO DOWN THE ROAD. ((PKG)) “” DOWN THE ROAD. ((PKG)) “” FOR VAPE SHOP OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES STILL HANGING IN, WITH BAN ENFORCEMENT SCHEDULED TO START TOMORROW… TODAY’S COURT DECISION WAS A RELIEF. ((SOT)) “I got right on the phone and called the most important people in my life.” NICHOLAS STUMPF, WHO OWNS “THE JOINT” SMOKE SHOP, SAYS HE LOST ABOUT SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS SINCE THE BAN TOOK EFFECT, SLASHING PRICES TO GET RID OF PRODUCT BEFORE THE FINES AND INSPECTIONS STARTED. BUT HE SAYS FOR OTHER VAPE SHOP OWNERS, IT’S TOO LATE. ((SOT)) “There’s some guys that already shut down.” ((SOT)) “Yeah, there’s a bunch…there’s a bunch.” ANDREW RIBBLE WITH THE LIQUID CLOUD LOUNGE STUCK IT OUT, SLASHING INVENTORY AS WELL. WHILE TODAY’S DECISION WAS A WELCOME ONE, RIBBLE’S STILL OUT THOUSANDS HIMSELF. ((SOT)) “I’m angry… but not surprised they did this.” RIBBLE SAYS HE DOESN’T MIND FURTHER DISCUSSION ON VAPING AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO MAKE IT SAFER, IF STUDIES DETERMINE IT NEEDS TO BE. ((SOT)) “This can ultimately be remedied, there’s common sense things we can do with legislation.” IN A STATEMENT FROM NEW YORK’S HEALTH COMMISSIONER HE SAYS, “MAKE NO MISTAKE: THIS IS A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY” AND HE’S CONFIDENT ONCE THE COURT HEARS THEIR ARGUMENT ON THE BAN, THEY WILL AGREE. FOR THE TIME BEING, VAPE SHOPS ACROSS THE STATE ARE HANGING IN AND OPEN FOR BUSINESS TOMORROW. ((CHRISTIAN/LIVE)) A RULING ON THE MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUCTION IS SET FOR OCTOBER 18TH….WE’LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THAT COMES DOWN. ((ADAM/1-SH)) THANKS CHRISTIAN MEANTIME TODAY THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL