Voices: Nigel Farage came to CPAC to save America from itself. Because that’s what freedom looks like!
If there’s one thing everyone at CPAC is sick of, it’s those goddamned globalist liberals. If you hate America so much, then why not move, amirite?! Loyal, conservative CPAC attendees know that being a Republican is about small-government patriotism. No one tells us how to govern and if they try, well, their tea’s going straight in the harbor! That’s why CPAC’s Thursday night guest of honor was Nigel Farage, the British politician who graciously agreed to fly to Maryland and tell Americans how to run their country.
Nigel often struggles to make it work at these events, because he gets carried away with recounting various minor details about British process that don’t excite Americans. On the Texas-Oklahoma border in 2021, I watched him try to convince a room of locals who had mainly gathered to hear from an evangelical priest that British passports going back to blue was a Really Big Triumph. People shuffled in their seats and looked confused. Most of them weren’t exactly sure what Brexit even was. A man who struck up earnest conversation with me after the speech referred to our Nige repeatedly as “Neil”.
Tonight, however, he managed to get a surprising amount of traction out of some quite boring stuff about Scotland, New Zealand and the one time he went to the pub in violation of lockdown rules. It didn’t seem to bother people in the room that they had never heard of the UK’s former health secretary Matt Hancock: When Farage called him a “pipsqueak of a loser” who “you wouldn’t even let wash cars, in my opinion,” they lapped it up. There were genuine laughs. Emboldened, Farage added that people in the British government who heard of his illicit lockdown pub trip wanted “and I quote ‘to lock him up’”. Just who Farage was supposed to be quoting from there is a mystery. But details are for bleeding-heart liberals!
“If it ever happens again,” Farage promised, “then I’m going to be a rebel from day one.” The crowd went wild. Ah yes, the dreams of people who will absolutely and definitely be rebels in the imaginary future, led by Nigel Farage, their imaginary righteous leader! Roll on the next pandemic, during which a British man who has never been elected to any UK office will step in to save America from science. It’s like a movie, really, isn’t it? It’s almost worth another deadly pathogen circulating just to see it.
Then our man gave a summary of all the countries that have, in his opinion, become too leftie for his liking. A big boo for Canada. “Castro!” someone shouted. “Oh, you don’t like Justin Trudeau?” Farage remarked, workshopping a bit of back-and-forth with the crowd. “He’s a loser!” came the answer from a woman in the front. Farage smiled before reminding her that no, Trudeau is not a loser, because he’s in power, steering the great ship of Canadian menace, and that’s what’s so dangerous about this whole affair.
Next came Australia, “one of the wokest places on Earth”. That’s what they say about Australians, isn’t it? Just a bunch of hyper-PC bureaucrats with sticks up their asses, barbecuing tofu on the beaches so as not to offend the fish. New Zealand, Farage added, is in many ways even worse — but the good news is that Jacinda Ardern is gone! For some reason, everyone cheered very loudly at that.
Back to Great Britain, where “the Conservatives were elected with a massive majority, much of which I gave them on a plate.” Unfortunately, Nigel continued, they’ve “governed as liberals,” because of carbon zero or something. The depleted NHS and the cost-of-living crisis proliferating in Britain seems to suggest that they very much governed as conservatives, but no one in the US has to know that.
Probably the weirdest part of this entire descriptive trip around the western world was when Farage suddenly exclaimed, “I’m not ashamed to admit that Giorgia Meloni is my new pin-up!” I’m sure that Italy’s new far-right prime minister will be delighted to hear that. The good news is that there’s absolutely no historical precedent suggesting that throwing your support behind an extreme right-wing Italian government might go wrong, so I’d say Farage is on pretty safe ground here.
Why is conservatism a bit more popular in France and Italy than in the English-speaking world, Farage pondered? Well, the answer is pretty clear to him. “It comes from the west coast, it comes from big tech!” What is “it”? Come on, keep up! The scourge of progressivism! Mark Zuckerberg’s hyper-tolerant, drag queen-infused vision of the future! San Francisco’s start-up founders need to keep the English-speaking world liberal, because they’re just too in love with paying their taxes and their secret transgender immigrant army will vaccinate you as soon as your back is turned! (Then, according to Marjorie Taylor Greene, they’ll add insult to injury by sending your kids to Ukraine.) Apparently, however, Nigel Farage is fairly confident that Elon Musk will sort them all out. By taking over Twitter, he can surely silence those radical leftists once and for all with a nice, big crackdown. Because that’s what freedom of speech looks like, libs!
To round it off, there was another imaginary scenario in which “boys and girls of 11 are being told there are 73 different genders” when they go to school in the morning. In this class, says Nigel, “a kid says, ‘My mummy and daddy say there are only two genders.’ And that kid gets kicked out of class.” The hall got so energetic at this point that some people genuinely jumped to their feet. This wasn’t a real story, of course. Never did this actually happen. But why would you care about that unless maybe you’re a communist?
Farage came to the end of his speech with another risky move. He asked people, “Can you turn this around?” and when some of the crowd chanted, “Yes!”, he responded, like in a pantomime, “I can’t hear you! WILL YOU TURN THIS AROUND?” It wouldn’t have worked in most places. I’ve seen him try this tactic and fall on his face. But CPAC got into it. They chanted, they pumped their fists, they gave him a standing ovation. It was all so encouraging that Farage, a little rosy-cheeked, ended with: “Save America and you’ll save the free world and I love you!”
As a buttoned-up Brit myself, I cringed a little. “I love you”? It was a bit much. But there’s not much left for Nigel in Britain now, especially with Brexit having gone so horrendously wrong with the whole “trashing the economy” thing, and him having taken full advantage of his other passports and started living internationally to get away from it. (Not like a globalist. Just like...you know, something else but right-wing.) I suppose, perhaps, then, when Nigel says, “I love you,” to America, he does. And isn’t the love of a desperate, far-right Brexiteer with a pin-up poster of an Italian prime minister the greatest love of all?