CPAC 2021 opened its first full day Friday morning, with a video about alleged election fraud before turning the stage over to opening remarks from Florida’s GOP Governor Ron DeSantis. The video was laced with racial and gender-based innuendo as clips of Democrats who were non-white or female dominated the video. The other subtle theme of the video were shots at CNN, but that’s to be expected these days in anything done by “conservatives” in the media.
2021’s CPAC conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on I Drive, the first time the American Conservative Union (ACU) has taken its signature event outside of the Washington DC area.
DeSantis opened his remarks indicating that he only “traveled to free states,” after taking a veiled shot at Virginia which has the temerity to refuse to allow a mass gathering of mask-less “conservatives” in the middle of a deadly pandemic. He then proceeded to talk about Florida’s “success” in the pandemic (only tens of thousands of Floridians have died and the foreign tourist economy has been crippled during our peak season, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?) before moving on to “election security,” and finally to the showcase of his speech – muzzling big tech.
The meat of the DeSantis presentation was a summary of his attempts to use government to scuttle the independence of private tech companies who wish to regulate their platforms in accordance with their user agreements. Making no reference to tech’s indulgence of extremism before the January 6 coup attempt which is after all what promopted this reaction, DeSantis laid out the plan of Florida Republicans to muzzle big tech, forcing them to allow all speech by politicians as “free speech” or face major fines. He promised attendees the legislature would pass and he would sign such a law next month.
So basically if you are a tech company that tries to regulate your platform with decency standards dictated by the free market, you will be manipulated, fined and perhaps even muzzled in DeSantis’ Florida. So much for being Conservative Republicans.
Governor DeSantis’ articulated remedy is downright Soviet in its approach. It would tell private companies how they should do business in the state and force private companies to bend to the will of government to air what is essentially state-driven propaganda on their platform. Florida Republicans, who have long taken an approach that elections don’t matter and they can race to pass laws that would be impossible in a genuinely pluralistic society believe they can get away with this.
This is because for years, Florida’s GOP has faced little real electoral competition – the real battles take place in GOP primaries which are now dominated by Trumpist faux conservatives who have eschewed any pretense of free market conservatism for personality cults and government regulation and spending that favors them. This hypocrisy and overreach could well open the door for Florida’s Democrats to start winning significant statewide elections again.
Ironically, following DeSantis’ remarks, CPAC organizers played a video about the need to counter “socialism” with various motifs of Democrats and the media(again largely focusing on CNN). The lack of self-awareness of these faux conservatives being a daily theme, this was rich even by their established low standards. After DeSantis outlined an effort of government to muzzle private industry and force them to air propaganda, the conference attempted to cloak itself in cries of freedom, anti-socialism and protection iof the Bill of Rights.
You cannot make this stuff up…