CPAC 2018: The Conservative Base (Not Elite) Has Embraced Trumpism—Time For Trump To Follow Suit
It was only two years ago that then-candidate Trump avoided the annual Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC] because it looked likely he would be booed by “true conservatives.” At this year’s CPAC, both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were treated as conquering heroes, leading the Main Stream Media to declare the president’s victory conclusive [Trump’s Takeover of Conservatism Is Complete and Total, by Tim Alberta, Politico, February 25, 2018]. But there are still real dangers for National Conservatives aiming to use the GOP as a vehicle to achieve patriotic immigration reform. Chief among them: the possibility that President Trump will continue to show weakness on immigration. With midterms approaching, time is running out, and Trump simply has not yet given his base a compelling reason to follow him.
This is inexcusable given President Trump’s remarkable capture the GOP. Pat Buchanan correctly observed on the most recent McLaughlin Group that the “Bush party has become a Trump party” on immigration, trade and foreign policy [Pat Buchanan: The Bush Party Has Become A Trump Party On Immigration, Trade, Staying Out of Foreign Wars, by John Binder, Breitbart, February 25, 2018]. The rank-and-file conservative activists at CPAC showed utter contempt for Bush-era talking points, lustily booing the ritualistic references to Hispanic immigrants as “natural Republicans.” An astonishing 93 percent of CPAC attendees gave the president a favorable approval rating, with almost 80 percent demanding the GOP Congress do a better job of working with him [Trump tweets CPAC straw poll showing favorable approval rating, by John Boweden, The Hill, February 24, 2018].
With any other Republican, this could simply be dismissed as the grassroots backing their leader. but with Donald Trump, it shows that much of the official Conservative Movement has bent the knee to a man they regarded as a usurper during his candidacy.
But the supposed “nationalist takeover” of the Conservative Movement may be overstated in triumphalist articles from outlets such as Breitbart [Mainstream Media: Trump Victorious At CPAC, Economic Nationalist ‘Takeover of Conservatism Is Complete,’ by John Binder, February 25, 2018]
And those who would dethrone Trump and, more importantly, Trumpism, are still rallying their forces. Thus Alberta began: “If you’re a conservative with something critical to say about President Trump, watch your back”—implying the conservative faithful will ruin the careers of anyone who attacks the Commander-in-Chief. But attacking Trump is in reality a great professional move for ambitious conservative mediocrities, who can become more prominent in the Main Stream Media by trashing the president.
Witness the celebration of neocon pundit Mona Charen (pictured right) a marginal talent whose career of purported conservatism while actually accepting liberal clichés is endangered by the rise of nationalism in the GOP. Her condemnation of CPAC as a “disgrace” because it invited Marion Le Pen of France led to gleeful celebration in the MSM. Charen was promptly rewarded with an op-ed in the New York Times, where she got to brag about how she was “glad to be booed at CPAC” [CPAC panelist reveals in NYT op-ed that she was happy to be booed, by Alessia Grunberger, CNN, February 25, 2018]. Charen thus joins the ranks of people like Charlie Sykes, Rick Wilson, and Jennifer Rubin, professional “conservatives” who, somehow, never have anything positive to say about Republicans but instead validate the MSM line of the day.
Of more interest was National Review’s celebration of Charen. Yuval Levin praised her and presenting her antics as a Time For Choosing: “Mona’s comments and the ugly reaction of some in the audience lay out before us two possible paths for the Right,” he said sanctimoniously. “Let’s hope we ultimately choose the right one. It certainly isn’t the one we have generally been choosing lately” [Speaking Truth, February 25, 2018].
Yet what Levin is urging is not some return to an idealized intellectual conservatism, but a turn back to the lame slogans which marked the George W. Bush years and a refusal to confront the issues of today. The Islamization of Europe is occurring before our eyes, and has even been described in National Review itself [Europe in Crisis, by David Pryce-Jones, July 10, 2017]. Marion Le Pen (pictured right) also offered, by far, the most intellectually sophisticated and authentically conservative address of the conference, which even Rod Dreher admitted avoided the usual “conservative boilerplate” that passes for wisdom at these increasingly embarrassing junkets [Marion Marechal Le Pen’s Dynamic Speech, The American Conservative, February 22, 2018]. Yet even at this moment of existential civilization danger, the parasites of the Respectable Right are determined to make sure there is no effective resistance until it’s too late—just as they purged everyone who warned of America’s immigration disaster which now threatens the entire GOP with annihilation.
But, of course, what do they care? After all, it’s increasingly clear that many Conservatism Inc. functionaries, such as Bill Kristol, always regarded their fellow American citizens as the real enemy anyway.
This intellectual bankruptcy won’t prevent Conservatism Inc. from simply retaking the movement once President Trump is gone, or politically defeated. While the grassroots is with Trump and CPAC could not openly oppose the president, the panels were still ultimately controlled by the Donor Class, which pushed cheap labor, mass immigration and resistance to America First trade and immigration policies [Wanna Be a Player at CPAC? Write a Check First, by Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast, February 23, 2018]
2/ was somehow responsible for those wage increases, not increased immigration enforcement and thus a tighter labor market with less cheap, foreign competition. This assertion seems to be common among the Reagan-nostalgic wing of the GOP,
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) February 26, 2018
3/ despite wage increases coinciding with increased immigration enforcement back in mid-2017, and tax reform just only recently taking effect. In short, the Trump-Tom Cotton-David Perdue view of less immigration, higher U.S. wages remains opposed/ignored by party establishment.
— John Binder 👽 (@JxhnBinder) February 26, 2018
And Mitt Romney is also clearly setting himself up as the “anti-Trump,” denouncing identity politics from the crypto-ethnostate of Utah. Once he gets his chance, he’ll go back to making sure Republicans continue politely losing the way they did over the past decade [The Coming Clash of the GOP Titans, by Daniel Depetris, The American Conservative, February 23, 2018].
And Romney may get his chance soon. Rasmussen has President Trump’s approval rating at 50 percent, but it only polls likely voters. Groups that poll all registered voters have the president’s approval rating as far lower, even in the mid 30’s [Trump Hits 50% by Dick Morris, WesternJournalism, February 25, 2018]
This is significant because in 2018 there is likely to be far more voter turnout than usual in a midterm election, as the Main Stream Media has whipped the Democrat base into a frenzy. Democrats are also scoring a number of special election victories in districts President Trump and the Republicans won handily in 2016 [Kentucky Democrat wins state House in Trump stronghold, by Maegan Vasquez, CNN, February 22, 2018]. The defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama (albeit due to his betrayal by a terrified GOP Establishment) should also be considered a warning sign.
Yet Republicans appear complacent—and this includes the “nationalists.” And with the Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow DACA recipients to stay in the country until the issue is litigated through the appeals court level, President Trump’s peculiar decision to try to pose as a pro-DACA moderate on immigration no longer makes any sense because Democrats will not be under any pressure to “save the Dreamers” [In blow to Trump, Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of DACA ruling, by Pete Williams, NBC News, February 26, 2018]. The March 5 “deadline” is now gone for good.
Trump needs to change the equation on immigration and find new sources of pressure to put on the Democrats. One of the easiest moves: advocate a remittance tax to pay for the border wall. With the Supreme Court’s DACA ruling, an action like this practically becomes a political necessity.
CPAC shows the conservative grassroots are with the president and that the Beltway elites are cowed. But they are still hostile. They will only accept the president while he is strong. Today, he appears weak, as even foreign leaders such as former Mexican President Vicente Fox are mocking him, saying Mexico will never pay for the wall.
It is time for President Trump to show leadership and strength on his signature issue. And if he doesn’t act soon, the anti-Trump wing of the GOP will join the incipient coup against him.
And everything that has happened since 2015 will have been for nothing.