In Donald Trump’s Republican Party, it’s all text and no subtext:
The Golden Calf is one of the most famous stories in the Old Testament. The Israelites, newly freed from Egyptian slavery, have a crisis of faith while God is speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai. They melt down the golden jewelry to construct a physical god — a statue in the shape of a calf — to worship in place of their abstract, invisible deity. It’s a story about the allure of idolatry, how easy it is to abandon one’s commitments to principle in favor of shiny, easy falsehoods.
This biblical tale trended on Twitter in the US Friday morning because of the following video, filmed on the first day of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Someone involved in the conference constructed a golden statue — not of a calf, but of Trump — and wheeled it out to cheers from conference attendees. “That is so cool,” one of the onlookers says.
The party leadership understands that, of course. It’s why the vast bulk of the GOP Senate caucus embraced flimsy constitutional rationales for acquitting Trump in the most recent impeachment trial, despite clear evidence that he incited the January 6 riot at the US Capitol that threatened their lives. They are too afraid of their own voters to turn on Trump, and so have no choice but to embrace him — despite knowing how much of a threat he poses to their party and American democracy.
“Cult of personality” seems to dignified a description of the Republican Party in 2021. Get down, Moses.