The moderate Republicans of yore can hardly recognize their party in the post-Trump era.
Taken over by devotees of QAnon and blatant White nationalists, the GOP has driven headfirst into a vat of grievances and opposition to the progressive agenda without a safety net of actual policies beyond regression to an antiquated, regulation-free America.
Now former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent is speaking out about the rapid deterioration of the party he once helped govern as demonstrated by the tenor of the radical views expressed at the semiannual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Texas this past weekend.
Dent called the modern CPAC a “freak show” that hardly resembles the conservatism of just 10 years ago this morning in an appearance on CNN‘s New Day program.
The member of a vanishing breed of moderate Republicans told New Day hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar that when he was still in Congress the stirrings of radicalism were already being felt when he resigned his seat in 2018.
While he claims that he refused to get caught up in the extremist partisan fervor of the more radical members of the GOP, an examination of his voting record shows that he still voted in line with Donald Trump’s position on legislation 93% of the time.
Still, with the Republican Party now riven with internal dissent between the MAGA extremists and its more traditional mainstream members, Dent’s comments are sure to resonate with people like Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who were among the few to vote to impeach Trump in the second attempt to remove him from office.
After the hosts of New Day showed Dent clips of a CPAC panel dedicated to criticizing the Biden Administration’s efforts to vaccinate every American against the COVID pandemic, Dent flew into a fierce denunciation of the conference and its straw poll showing Donald Trump as CPAC’s preferred nominee for the 2024 presidential contest.
“This CPAC has always been kind of an odd gathering and now it’s been taken over by a bunch of radicals, anti-vaxxers,” Dent said. “It’s a land of misfit toys, it’s a political freak show, it’s like the Star Wars bar. This is just bizarre.”
“The fact that we’re celebrating that we’re not meeting our vaccination targets is actually reprehensible, we all know this,” he added. “I can’t imagine — serious people are not showing up to this thing. I mean, look what happens. they have their stupid straw poll and have a ranked-choice straw poll too apparently now. But this whole group it’s not serious and one doesn’t know if you should laugh or cry or be alarmed about what we’re watching and witnessing at these CPAC gatherings.”
“I stayed away from them when I was in Congress,” the former congressman continued. ” I never wanted to be associated with some of the types who showed up there, but again, it says a lot that serious aspirational presidential candidates weren’t there.”
It remains to be seen if moderates can reclaim their party and CPAC from the clutches of the QAnon crazies who now dominate at least the primary corners of conservative media.
If not, Dent and others of his still-reasonable persuasion likely need to officially split off to form a center-right party if they want to have their voices heard over the din of the loud and proud right-wing extremists and nut-jobs.
You can watch a clip of former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent
Original reporting by Tom Boggioni at RawStory.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.