This Ad Is the Republican Party’s Whole Deal Circa 2021
If you’re looking for a concise summary of the Republican Party in 2021, you’ve got one courtesy of newly minted Nevada gubernatorial candidate Michele Fiore. The Las Vegas councilwoman released a campaign ad on Wednesday that truly has it all: a Ford® Super Duty® truck, a frontier setting, a gun carried prominently on the hip, and the use of that gun to destroy the great evils of our time. These are represented on the labels of beer bottles—which look a bit like Bud Heavies but are apparently products manufactured by “Socialism”—and they are as follows: “VACCINE MANDATES,” “CRT,” and “VOTER FRAUD.”
The second refers to “critical race theory,” a term for a relatively obscure area of study in American law schools which has been repurposed as a catch-all for perceived Woke Excesses by right-wing political operatives. (One admitted this outright.) The third refers to a problem that does not exist in any significant way, though it has become an article of faith underpinning the notion that the 2020 election was stolen from the one true president, Donald Trump. And the first is the in-vogue talking point over at Fox News, which requires all its employees to get vaccinated or get tested every day of the week—a significant burden that you’d think would push a lot of hesitaters to get vaccinated—but whose on-air hosts decry such rules as authoritarian power grabs and, perhaps, the end of the American experiment itself.
None of this is all that new, I guess, and the skeptical coverage you’ll find on this webpage is exactly what Fiore is hoping to get out of the video. (In it, she decries the media attacks she suffered for endorsing Donald Trump, though the examples she pulls from the Washington Post—”gun-toting calendar girl”—and Politico—”the Lady Trump”—do not seem extraordinarily vicious? She did release a calendar where she totes guns—also a Christmas card—and she is determined to cast herself as an heir to the Trumpian throne. Where’s the problem?) But this really is the whole deal. It’s not just the centrality of firearms in political messaging that, as a whole, conveys the notion of a person, a movement, and a Real America under siege. Somehow, we all just grew accustomed to this stuff. In what way is “the Joe Biden administration coming after” Michele Fiore? Do we just say these things now?
Something else you may have noticed is that, like pretty much anything else coming out of the Republican Party at the present moment, there is no discussion of any actual issue facing the United States of America right now. Inequality? The plight of American low-wage workers? Infrastructure? Climate? Healthcare? The 728,000 people dead from COVID-19 in the United States? None merit a mention. For Esquire’s September issue, Charles P. Pierce wrote about what he called the Phantom Revolution, which has consumed the conservative movement and directed its energy towards imaginary threats with very real consequences. It’s hard to think of a better example than a political ad that lays out the three major issues facing America as election fraud, critical race theory, and having to get vaccinated during a pandemic. Also, if socialism looks like Budweiser, wouldn’t that make it as American as apple pie?