Originally published via Armageddon Prose:
Michael Pence is exactly the brand of Republican ditz who is physically incapable of delivering a single speech on his own two feet without resurrecting Ronald Reagan's corpse, dragging it out onto stage, and shoving his hand up its cavity to serve cynically as a ventriloquist puppet – which is what Pence did at a recent speech delivered to an audibly unenthusiastic audience at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.
All this lackluster performance was missing was the infamous "please clap" line.
The thesis of Pence's speech, to the extent that any signal could be sussed out through all the platitude noise, was that "populism" is a moral abomination and the polar opposite of "conservatism."
Here's what Pence had to say on that score:
"Should the new populism of the right seize and guide our party, the Republican Party we’ve long known will cease to exist and the fate of American freedom would be in doubt…
The future of this movement, of this great party, belongs to one or the other — not both. That is because the fundamental divide between these two factions is unbridgeable…
Today, another strain of this ideology challenges conservatism not from the Democratic Party, but from within, for control of the Republican Party. It takes the form of what’s known as “populism,” rather than “progressivism,” but make no mistake about it. Those ideologies are fellow travelers on the same road to ruin…
The Republican populists would abandon American leadership on the world stage, embracing a posture of appeasement in the face of rising threats to freedom. Republican populists would blatantly erode our constitutional norms. A leading candidate for the Republican nomination last year called for the “termination of all rules regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” His imitators in this primary have demonstrated a willingness to brandish government power to impose their will on opponents."
There is a lot that could be dissected from this rhetoric, but let's zero in on the semantics:
· "Populism" references a governing philosophy in which the interests of the population are served first and foremost, in the fashion envisioned in America's founding documents, rather than servicing the interests of multinational corporations and despotic billionaires like the Koch brothers (which is, not coincidentally, Pence's whole reason for existence).
The inverse of populism is not conservatism as Pence claims but rather elitism, the prevailing ideology of the den of fugly criminals in DC.
Were Pence sincere about winning the hearts and minds of GOP voters, he would inject populism into his campaign. But winning isn't his goal; it's getting a gig on Fox News, making speeches for tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to DC think tanks (money laundering operations for bribery schemes), or serving on the boards of Raytheon, Boeing, et al. – or, ideally, all three.
· "Conservatism" references an ideology in which that which is worthy of being conserved in a civilization is conserved. Such things might include the rule of law and the middle class. Mike Pence supports the rule of law when it comes to January 6th protesters and crack dealers but not, of course, when it comes to the criminality of the donors and the ruling class in DC. This is why, for instance, Pence would never utter a mumbling word of criticism of Anthony Fauci – characters such as him are above the law in Pence's world. Ditto for Manhattan bankers, war criminals such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama (who extrajudicially executed an American citizen and his American citizen son with drones and never was made to account), etc. I have written about this phenomenon called "anarcho-tyranny" elsewhere.
Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.
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