Open Letter to CPAC’s Matt Schlapp From a Former Attendee
Congratulations, CPAC 2021 was a huge success. The gathering is now history, but here are a few thoughts for you to ponder.
On Sunday, before introducing the 45th President to the uber-enthusiastic MAGA-hat-wearing crowd, you said, “the world was watching.” Yet, as millions of global and domestic eyeballs watched, they laughed at and were appalled by aspects of your three-day idol-worshipping spectacle.
You are likely to dismiss that observation as the rant of some angry Democrat, but I am a former loyal Republican who regularly attended CPAC starting in the mid-1990s. In recent years, we greeted each other and exchanged pleasantries. Last year after I complimented CPAC’s “America vs. Socialism” theme as sharp, “us vs. them,” war-like branding that crystalized Trump’s reelection year message, you thanked me saying, the theme was your idea.
But this year, I was nauseated at the thought of attending and stayed home.
That queasy feeling began at CPAC 2019 when the theme and Trump’s “Keep America Great” reelection slogan officially merged, and unofficially CPAC became “T-PAC.” When writing about the event, I quoted a GOP strategist who said, “ ‘CPAC might as well be the 2020 RNC convention.’ ” And Matt, with all your family and business ties to Trump in 2019, that was no coincidence.
Then at CPAC 2020, the hero worship began, literally. Amidst truckloads of merchandise bearing his likeness was a funny-looking, eight-foot-tall Trump “superman” statue constructed from nails.
However, this year’s statue was not funny.
Wheeled down the corridor of the Orlando Hyatt Hotel — where management is now wrestling with CPAC fallout — was a gold-headed Trump statue. Naturally, it grabbed the media’s attention since it symbolized CPAC’s worship of the living golden-haired idol who you had invited to speak. Politico Playbook reported that Tommy Zegan, the sculptor, “managed to cart it through the conference” with “no CPAC credential.”
Matt, since you are a man of great faith, when did you first learn that this graven image was going viral with the “golden calf” Biblical reference? Were you proud that the statue visually confirmed CPAC as a Trump-cult gathering? That is the same reason I recently abandoned the Republican Party after having been a loyal member since 1975 — albeit not to join the Democrats. Instead, I will float in the political ether until I recognize the party I first joined.
And then there is the irony swirling around your 2021 theme, “America UnCanceled.” Was that your idea too? If so, an unfortunate choice considering the list of elected Republican leaders, topics, branches of government, election results, honesty, Democracy itself — and any GOP future that does not involve Trump — were all “canceled” by the speakers, especially the golden-haired one.
Surely you remember the big “Republican tent” of diverse ideas and candidates? This year you presided over a CPAC gathering of singular thought representing the party which toppled its tent and drenched it with gasoline while Trump held the blow torch.
I ask you, where do Republicans like me fit in? Millions of “formers” who put love of country before party and believe Trump hi-jacked the GOP. We still believe in conservative culture, rule of law, separation of powers, truth, justice, and American ideals. Instead, my former party enabled Trump to create his own version of the truth while defining justice as anything he can get away with. Then on Jan. 6, he showed us his “American ideals” by inciting an insurrection during the constitutionally mandated Electoral College certification by Congress.
Matt, all anyone needs to know about the man you worship is the report that Trump refused to address CPAC if his former vice president attended. You were painfully aware that if Pence had spoken, he would have been embarrassingly booed in the ballroom. Why? Because the leader you proudly introduced with the “world watching” is an angry narcissist forever furious that his ever-loyal vice president resisted his demands to “overturn” the presidential election and name Donald J. Trump as the winner. Of course, Pence was powerless to do so, but such action was demanded by the man depicted in the golden statue, holding a magic wand.
What the world saw displayed on Jan. 6 was Trump’s version of loyalty — gallows constructed for Mike Pence on Capitol Hill by MAGA militias.
Let’s get real. Trump is a disgraced twice-impeached one-term president who, in two elections, failed to win the popular vote. Today he clings to power as king and kingmaker of the Republican Party because people like you give him a platform. Thank God that golden wand was powerless against American patriots like Mike Pence and other leaders who defended the Constitution after their lives were threatened.
Matt, looking forward to CPAC 2022, here are my recommendations: Show the crowd hours of Capitol Attack video from Jan. 6, 2021. Afterward, and unlike this year, you and other GOP officials should give honest speeches about what happened that day and name the man responsible for the carnage. That is how you can bring people like me back to CPAC, and my former party can have a brighter future.
Although one more action is needed. Chronicled in the Bible’s book of Exodus, Aaron (ironically, your middle name) led the Israelites to build and worship the golden calf statue. Mirroring Moses (Aaron’s brother) you too must destroy CPAC’s statue. Here are the Biblical instructions per Moses: “And he took the calf the people had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.”
There are no coincidences with names and statues in the Bible or politics.
Myra Kahn Adams