CPAC was more than just an educational event to view speakers and gain knowledge about the community and businesses involved; it was also an event to decipher exactly how Republican you are.
Upon entering the Gaylord Hotel, Thursday, Feb. 29 attendees were slammed with the stark vision of Make America Great Again hats, endless seas of red, and bumper stickers slandering liberal rhetoric. It was a carnival for a polarized extremist who was not open to more viable discourse between two parties, and frankly, it was a stark reflection of the unhealthy community surrounding polarized politics.
As stated by Kindau Sinal, M.D., “Political affiliation is a lens by which we interact with the world. With just one word, “Democrat” or “Republican,” we reduce our complexity as individuals into a single word that conveys the majority of our political and social beliefs to others. But while our political identities allow us to connect with like-minded individuals, they also promote division.”
And that could not hold any more true.
Likewise, on University of Minnesota’s campus, people see the stark divisional lines between groups; stating you are Republican in a class will automatically determine who is eligible as your friend and who is not.
But the same principles held up at CPAC, and in an even scarier way.
With numerous college-aged groups in attendance, immaturity was still a factor. However, amongst my group of editors who tend to be more neutral or libertarian affiliated, it because prominent that this “wishy-washiness” was a problem for individuals, and some of the slurs I heard were regarding women as “Libtards” or Libertarians as “Leftist Degenerates,” due to the sheer level of Trump and right-winged support at the event.
Another issue I sadly witnessed was adults forcing politics upon their children. Just visit the #cpac2019 tag on Instagram, and numerous images will return with middle-aged parents and their six or eight year olds clinging onto them in the speaker hall. Of course these children will likely grow to be right-winged – they were raised in an environment where they did not know any better.
I spoke with a veteran Navy Seal on the flight from DCA to MSP, who had his son, 14, and daughter, 9, sitting across the aisle. He took his children to CPAC, claiming his daughter was a huge Trump supporter, and after I told him my opinion on Trump, he referred to me as “Liberal Media.”
How in the hell can a nine year old be a stout supporter of Trump? Does she understand the global implications of his actions? How about tax reform? His recent veteran suicide prevention executive order? I doubt she hardly even understands the concept of PTSD and mental illness-driven suicide.
And if this particular child does, then shame on her parents for taking away her innocence at such a young age.
As plainly stated by Ruth Margolis, writer for The Week, “So next time you’re tempted to tell a young child that the apocalypse is nigh, ask yourself if it’s really fair to impart complicated, scary information to a kid who can’t even tie her own shoes. I certainly don’t want my 5-year-old fretting about “silly Donald Trump” (that’s what she calls him). Or, for that matter, school shootings, other people’s recently dead relatives, drowning refugees, or children who are separated from their parents at the U.S. border. For now, it’s enough that our kids know they’re lucky to have food and toys, a nice bedroom, and a loving family, and that not everyone is so fortunate.
See, children are so impressionable that they will follow their idols, their parents. And when we consider the heavy extremism at CPAC, it was not an environment for children, unless the parents of these children are seeking to create more rift-driven polarization.
CPAC was a positive gathering, but reflected dangerous U.S. division.