On a Halloween Sunday night, Republican Senators Josh Hawley, of Missouri, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, spoke at the National Conservatism conference in Orlando, Florida. Hawley’s topic was the need to reinforce the “American man.” We will assume, based on Sen. Hawley’s views on education, history, and race in America that he means white cishet American men. The speech was covered and quoted across the internets as it is such a lazy retreading of toxic masculinity—the kind of sophistry that has been visited upon the public discourse every time our unequal economic system meets a crisis.
Both men want to be president so badly they can taste it. Of course, the taste they are confusing with power is sulfur. Hawley’s elevator pitch? “Can we be surprised that after years of being told they are the problem, that their manhood is the problem, more and more men are withdrawing into the enclave of idleness, and pornography, and video games?” You’ve heard this story before and it coincidentally becomes what can pass as a political platform every few years, when stagnating wages and deregulated corruption at the top of our economic pyramid, lead to an untenable situation.
Since conservative policies exacerbate existing inequalities in our society, these are usually the times when more traditional liberal policies—like taxing wealthier members of our society, adding some regulation to our industries, and spending money on a government that works to help citizens—gain traction. Unfortunately, conservative politicians, especially those as cravenly ambitious—probably criminally so—and corrupt as Hawley, want power so badly they are willing to turn our government into a money-laundering operation for big corporations and defense contractors by any means necessary.
This necessitates their need to stir up what is now called the “culture war,” in our national discourse. This “culture” is simply the same thing it has always been: a bunch of white hegemonic oligarchs, promoting racism, xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia, in order to obfuscate the real issues of income and social inequality created by our economic and justice systems. It also leads to, in 2021, hearing an adult white man tell other adults that “American men are working less, getting married in fewer numbers; they’re fathering fewer children. They are suffering more anxiety and depression. They are engaging in more substance abuse.”
You might think the implications of that above statement would lead a person in a position to make laws in our country to consider passing some fucking laws. Namely, infrastructure bills that might help employ Americans and ease some of the economic insecurity that Americans say is the cause of virtually everything on that list—especially the “fewer children” bit.
When Morning Consult polled Americans for The New York Times about reasons they expect to have fewer children, top of the list was “Child care is too expensive.” Like with the opioid crisis, not a single respondent came up with “Because my masculinity has been butthurt by women doing stuff and trans folks asking for the most basic human rights.” Weird. Here’s that list [bold is my emphasis]:
Child care is too expensive (64%)
Want more time for the children I have
Worried about the economy
Can’t afford more children
Waited because of financial instability
Not enough paid family leave
Worried about global instability
Struggle with work-life balance
Worried about domestic politics
Worried about climate change
Responsible for other family care
Worried about population growth
Prioritized my education and career
Partner doesn't want children
Don't think I'm a good parent
But passing a bill that would create more green jobs, expand health care services for families and seniors, and help support families with children by providing them a tax credit are not the problem. In fact, creating a universal pre-K program that could take the weight of high costs of early childcare and education off of American families isn’t the problem. The problem is the “Left.” In fact, it’s the left’s critique of white men that is dragging everybody down and the reason why white men like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and Joe Rogan and Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz are richer now than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
“They believe that America is a systemically racist, structurally oppressive, hopelessly patriarchal kind of place. The Left want to define traditional masculinity as toxic. They want to define the traditional masculine virtues—things like courage, and independence, and assertiveness—as a danger to society.”
You want to make ends meet? Stop criticizing America, and more specifically, stop criticizing white men, the structures they uphold to maintain power, and their complete inability to understand why everyone is pissed. And you will never again masturbate! Here’s Hawley doing his thing.
Here’s a response that I didn’t think of at all. Just reporting it.
Also hoping that Donald Trump will die and MAGA fans will forget that no one likes him, Sen. Ted Cruz told the audience that he was “going to commit a radical act. I'm going to speak the truth. America is great.” The level of pandering in this speech makes Josh Hawley’s pablum sound like the greatest oration in the history of history. Cruz goes on to depreciate a Princeton University degree, by saying, “Christopher Columbus discovering America was a good thing. George Washington was an extraordinary national hero. Thomas Jefferson was an extraordinary national hero. Abraham Lincoln was an extraordinary national hero."
The crowd was giving the diminishing returns that we have come to expect from every Ted Cruz appearance, even in front of what is ostensibly his audience. Cruz quickly pivoted to more in-the-news bigotries: “Police officers keep us safe. Israel is our friend. The Wuhan virus came from Wuhan.” Yeah, he said that. Finally, the coup de grace! “And there is a difference between boys and girls.” Bahhhhh arrr ffffff.
Another editorial remark from someone.
In the same way Santa Claus is explained to a two-year-old, Hawley and Cruz take advantage of the over-simplified, historically ignorant, and theologically reductive under-education of the conservative Christian movement. The statements they make have next to nothing to do with the ancient books they pretend to comprehend, and are simply signifiers that say everything will be easier to understand if you just say words like “Jesus” and “Merry Christmas” and pray that things will get better. But if they don’t get better, that’s okay, too, because Jesus and Santa and Merry Christmas.
Any substance abuse issues or mental health issues will disappear the moment you decide to serve patriotism and white patriarchy at your table. I’ve heard that the trick is you put that white American jingoism in a pot and then you put an onion and hot water in that pot. You add salt and pepper. Maybe some carrots and celery, radishes, or the like. You can cook a chicken and put it in there too, or beans (if you don’t eat meat). You cook that for a while and you have yourself a hearty soup of Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz’s America! Of course, if you can’t afford those ingredients, and you are pressed for time as you try to run a household while also working and making ends meet, you can just put water in a pot and cook up that patriotism and white patriarchy.
Oh, right; deregulated industries mean you don’t have clean water to boil. No worries, just serve up that Hawley and Cruz America powder!
Of course, it lacks any nutritional value. You’ll die of starvation.