Dan Bishop may be the most reprehensible figure North Carolina has elected to Washington since his compatriot in hatred, the late Jesse Helms. A showman and a provocateur, Bishop conceives of his public purpose in terms of creating spectacle. That spectacle consists of himself.
Bishop’s most recent foray into the territory of vice signaling was a twitter performance in which he ridiculed the essential spending bill Congress passed to avert a government shutdown. Bishop, hardly stupid, put on this exhibition to attract the attention of right-wingers in other red states. If you doubt this, consider that Bishop scored an invitation to Tucker Carlson’s festival of TV hatred. The Charlotte-region congressman entertained Carlson to the point at which Fox News’s leading propagandist was unmistakably smitten with this most bigoted North Carolinian.
Dan Bishop has always loved the spotlight–and hated the oppressed. He has, indeed, contributed to cultural oppression. As a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, Bishop authored HB2, a vicious–and infamous–piece of legislation that the world will never forget. A wealthy attorney, Bishop invested $500 in the white-supremacists social-media platform Gab, later denying involvement in the company with a wolfish grin.
Indeed, the lupine is Bishop’s preferred public presentation. There is a certain gleeful villainy in this man’s image, and he wears the black hat with panache. While it’s perhaps a bit refreshing to see an American politician dispense with the standard affectations of virtue when his behavior tends toward vice, it is also, in the Trump era, boring. Cruelty and flagrant violations of the civic code draw admirers in today’s MAGA-fied GOP.
In his open bigotry, Dan Bishop represents the degraded soul of modern conservatism. The few remaining Republicans with a conscience may deny what their party has become, but Trumpism dominates nearly all the cultural space within the party that these dissenters cling to, and that Bishop has come to epitomize. This is exactly what he wants. And a state that will not stop giving dubious political gifts to a nation that won’t stop accepting them should hang its head in shame till Bishop finally leaves the public square.
Alexander Jones is an original contributor to PoliticsNC.