The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) would like to sell you Donald Trump’s greatest hits that include the #1 hits like fake news and the wall. They’ll include a bonus track of election fraud conspiracy theories just for you if you call within the next five minutes.
I don’t want to get sued for any kind of misrepresentation, so I want to be clear that I am being facetious. CPAC is not selling any kind of media to the masses with Trump’s greatest hits. However, it seems like we heard much of the same thing from Donald Trump as he pontificated among a group of adoring fans at CPAC on Sunday night. While the speech had the potential to be a winner, just like the former president, it went off the rails and became deranged quickly. The message can be great, but the messenger can be poor in many ways.
His speech started out empowering for those in the conservative moment. We knew that Trump would rail on about the current administration for the policies put forth thus far and say that his were better. This is predictable. It was electric enough that many right-leaning or Republican voters may feel empowered enough for the Republicans to win big in the midterms and the general election in 2022 and 2024, respectively. Maybe even a potential run for him in 2024 (there hasn’t been any confirmation of whether he will run in 2024).
The speech started to take a turn towards a discussion of election fraud, which turned up the notch from normal (at least in Trump’s terms) to “what the hell am I watching/listening to?”. He laid out several steps to combat this supposed “widespread voter fraud”. One of these steps was voter ID, which is nothing that we haven’t heard from the former president and his base.
His proposal for a verification of citizenship is laughable and makes this movement a joke. You don’t need to be a political science or civics major to understand that you must be a citizen to be able to vote. Voter fraud is an issue, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not as widespread as he and his followers would like to think. He’s making a mountain out of a molehill and perpetuating a lie for antics and entertainment. Classic Trump.
Of course, we know that CPAC is a conservative conference, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t an opportunity to focus on the ideas that all of us enjoy as Americans. There were plenty of missed opportunities for either Trump and/or his speechwriter to include the way in which Republicans will maintain freedoms like freedom of speech and ending cancel culture (he did, but not really; more on that later). Fairness and equality are the things that we all can do to strive for a more perfect union.
Instead, he blamed others, like the Supreme Court, Mitch McConnell, and others that they should have helped him to win the 2020 Presidential Election. In addition, he vilified Republicans like Pat Toomey, Adam Kinzinger, and Liz Cheney for the fact that they didn’t kiss the ring, requesting that they be primaried in a future election with more “tough and strong” members of the Republican party (Pat Toomey will be retiring in 2022, so that point is moot).
It may seem like Trumpism is alive and well in the Republican party, but the attendees at CPAC are just a segment of the population in this party and don’t necessarily represent most Republicans. It’s been said countless times that Trump is a phenomenon and phenomena do not last forever. Some of the conservative ideals that continue to be put forth by Trump may continue to reign supreme. However, this toxic masculinity, victimhood, and continuation to ignite the flame of the culture war may get exhausting after a while.
It remains a mystery whether Donald Trump will run in 2024 or whether the populist blaze will burn out. Trumpism (not the one he described) is still alive and well and may be here for longer than we thought. If it does remain through our next presidential election, hold on and fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.