Last week, Representative Roger Marshall’s teenage son Cal shocked the world by “dabbing” during his father’s swearing in ceremony. With Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, his father, the country, and the Holy Bible watching, he slyly jutted his head into the crook of his arm and held it for several seconds. A confused Ryan asked him if he was sneezing and asked him to stop. The 17-year-old Cal laughed and put his arm down, unaware of the political and social storm he had created.
For the unaware, dabbing is an outdated, dead meme, dance move popularized last year. To properly dab, one puts their head in the crook of their arm, as if covering their sneeze while holding their left arm straight out to the side. As the video went viral poor Cal was met with harsh criticism. Users on twitter called him a “brat” and “the reason I hate this generation.” Many chastised him for humiliating his father and ruining one of the biggest moments of his life. However, I respect young Cal, and salute him as an American hero.
Let’s take a look at what the dab represents in popular culture; once a popular dance move, it has become out of date and irrelevant, used only by those grossly out of touch with modern society. Sound familiar? Cal is no fool, he knows the dab has been dead for months (killed by Hillary Clinton on the Ellen DeGeneres show). His decision to dab was in fact an avant gardé form of performance art, drawing attention to our government’s incompetency.
The event he chose to disrupt was one of vapid pomp and circumstance. A day for congressmen to congratulate themselves on their re-election and network with their crony friends. The swearing in ceremony, once a sacred tradition in which elected officials swore to uphold the values of the country has become a mere photo op. Cal’s disruption took away attention from them and focused it on his juvenile antics, exactly the last thing they wanted. He showed just how little value the event actually holds and mocked the very core of our political establishment. Cal reminded our congressmen of how ridiculous they are.
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that national politics are a joke. Maybe it’s time we started acting like it. Sure, having your son dab during your swearing in ceremony is embarrassing, but is it more embarrassing than failing to compromise on the national budget and shutting down the government because of petty partisan politics? More embarrassing than neglecting the country and focusing only on re-election? Congress as a whole has a dismally low approval rating of only 11 percent. The dab has an approval rating of 16 percent. The parallels are uncanny.
Cal’s stoic dab, juxtaposed between Ryan, symbol of Republican obstructionism, and his father, Representative Marshall, paints a picture of a broken nation. As is often the case with artists who speak out, Cal was punished heavily. His father tweeted later that day “Just so you know @speakerRyan: He’s grounded.” But hope perseveres, rumors circulate of his plans for his next congressional appearance, a whip/nae nae to protest the rapid militarization of police is in the works.
graphic by: Tiamo Minard