CPAC 2016 Facing Trump Specter, WND, March
3, 2016]. When the conflict finally broke into the open, with Trump
snubbing the conference to dodge planned protests, CPAC turned into a
defiant rally against the de-facto Republican frontrunner [Donald Trump Bails On Speech At CPAC, WND, March
4, 2016]. By Saturday night, it was clear “conservatism” is no longer
really a coherent political philosophy or worldview, but a tribal
identifier. Trump is hated not because of his political positions or
even his style, but because he does not repeat the shibboleths of the Beltway Right.
Despite CPAC’s theme—“Our Time Is Now”—the conference seemed simply
an exercise in nostalgia, a kind of temporary theme park for aging Baby
Boomers who want to remember the 1980s and young politicos who want to
visit a Disneyesque fantasyland. Speaker after speaker simply urged
politicians of the present to copy Ronald Reagan. That would be
sufficient to solve every challenge of the present!
For example, Mark Levin, who clearly recognizes the problems with mass immigration and is not afraid to discuss them, nonetheless simply recited the electoral success of Reagan almost ritualistically, without mentioning changing demographics. [Talk radio star attacks Trump without mentioning his name, by Garth Kant, WND, March
4, 2016] He also took an odd swipe at the nationalist currents
surrounding the Trump campaign (without mentioning Trump), by suggesting
“nationalism” and “populism” is not conservative, and indeed, is
somehow foreign or “French.”
Meanwhile, the keynote speaker for a conference celebrating “intellectual conservatism” was Glenn Beck. [The Kool Aid Cult, by Gregory Hood, Radix, February 1, 2016] Beck took the audience on a remarkable journey through whatever reality he is living in, a fantastic realm where the Industrial Revolution began in the United States as a direct result of the United States Constitution. [Glenn Beck at CPAC: Compares Trump to Film Villain, Claims Industrial Revolution Started in America Because of Constitution, by Rebecca Mansour, Breitbart, March 6, 2016] He also compared Donald Trump to the bad guy from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
As the satirical Twitter personality “Conservative Pundit” joked
about Trump and the atmosphere at CPAC, “Just sickens me to see someone
take our esoteric Reagan mystery cult and try to make a winning party
out of it.”
The day after the conference ended brought the gloomy news that the great Nancy Reagan
had gone to her reward. Though I and presumably most other patriots
were saddened at the report, I couldn’t shake the irreverent thought
that if she had died while CPAC was still going on, the conference may
have culminated in ritualistic mass suicide.
As always at CPAC, immigration was the one issue that had to be debated
rather than proclaimed. There was a “Point/Counterpoint” discussion,
with Congressman Louie Gohmert
of Texas ably describing the patriot case for restricting immigration.
Meanwhile, the ghost of Reagan was invoked to hallow the cause of
Amnesty for illegal aliens. The Open Borders case was given by a nice white lady
billed as a “GOP Strategist” for the “Latino Partnership for
Conservative Principles,” and that alone should tell you what we’re
talking about when we make fun of the Beltway Right. [Gohmert Reveals Real Border Guards, WND, March 4, 2016]
During a speech defending “populist conservatism,” Rick Santorum
denounced conservatism’s internal divisions when it comes to
immigration, suggesting immigration should be as non-negotiable as
favoring tax cuts. Great. But when it mattered, Rick Santorum chose to
endorse Marco Rubio for President, suggesting he doesn’t really think immigration is the most important issue.
Of course, it’s premature to pronounce the death of movement
Conservatism. Indeed, the most consistent “movement conservative,” Ted
Cruz, has now emerged to present the most credible challenge to Donald
Trump for the Republican nomination following his victories in
But Cruz has been more insistent during this campaign about deporting illegal immigrants than Trump, not even offering to “let the good ones” back in [Ted Cruz’s Plan To Deport Undocumented Immigrants Is Even Worse Than Trump’s, by Esther Yu-His Lee, Think Progress, January
5, 2016]. Ultimately, it’s coming down to a question of who you trust
more to keep promises on immigration—Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.
Marco Rubio, the pro-cheap labor choice of the Donor Class,
received an enthusiastic reception at CPAC and was the clear choice of
many of the younger attendees dreaming of future careers as Fox News
pundits. Yet after his disastrous showing on Saturday, even Commissar Leon Wolf [Email him] over at Redstate is writing off Rubio and urging anti-Trump conservatives to get behind Cruz [Rubio Sacrificed His Campaign to Save America, March 6, 2016]. Open-Borders Republicans have been utterly routed this primary season.
For the Republican Establishment, “Jack Kemp” conservatives and the Open Borders Lobby, Cruz is horrifying
and his emergence the worst-case scenario. Someone has finally arisen
to present a real challenge to Donald Trump for the Republican
nomination—and it’s arguably the only man they hate worse than Trump.
Yet both candidates have serious weaknesses.
Trump has the utterly unique ability to shift the Overton Window, flip the Main Stream Media Script and appeal to working class white voters and independents. He’s completely correct when he brags no one would be talking about immigration were it not for him.
At the same time, his infuriating lack of message discipline, refusal
to invest in campaign infrastructure, and seeming indifference to
debate preparations is leading the campaign to careen from one disaster
to another, from last Thursday’s dumpster fire of a debate to Saturday’s
loss of the Maine caucuses. Indeed, were it not for early voting, his
campaign would be regarded as being in a tailspin.
Cruz is superbly organized, fanatically disciplined, and has the best
campaign infrastructure of any candidate. Even if it goes to a brokered
convention, Cruz can’t be counted out simply because of his skill in
these kinds of close-quarters political battles. And though it is
perhaps too late, he is uniting movement conservatives behind him. For
what it’s worth, he also won the Straw Poll at CPAC this year.
But Cruz’s entire strategy seems to be to squeeze out every last
possible vote from a remarkably narrow slice of voters. Cruz wins in
caucuses and closed primaries. The broader the electorate, the worse he
does. He has shown no ability to win over independents in open
primaries. How he expects to win a general election is a mystery when
his theory of turning out evangelicals seems to have already failed him
throughout the South. Cruz has a large number of delegates compared to
everyone but Trump—but he’s supposed to have won the entire South by
now, not be fighting Trump to a standstill.
Even Cruz’s large victory in Kansas over Trump on Saturday isn’t that impressive given the state’s history. Rick Santorum won the state in 2012 by a larger margin than Cruz did this year, taking an actual majority of the votes. And in 2008, Mike Huckabee won
almost 60 percent of the vote in the Kansas caucuses. It’s not an
encouraging sign for Cruz supporters their candidate couldn’t match the
performances of prior winners who failed to secure the nomination.
Michigan will clarify a great deal. Each candidate has an advantage
in a different way. Trump leads in Michigan by double digits, but only
by the same kind of margin he had in Kentucky and Louisiana, where in
the end he barely fended off Cruz—and there is no early voting in
Michigan. If Trump is collapsing, we’ll see it in Michigan. On the other
hand, the state has an open primary, which favors Trump, and if Cruz
really is incapable of growing his coalition, he will have no chance in
It’s not impossible to imagine Cruz and Trump reconciling and forming
a powerful unity ticket despite the bitter campaign. After all, it’s no
more unlikely than Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy or even George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. But it’s probably not going to happen.
The battle in the GOP primary isn’t about candidates or even about
political philosophy. It’s about control over the American Right. The
forces aligned around Cruz see the conservative movement as the answer
to the “GOP Establishment.” But most of the forces around Donald Trump
consider the conservative movement itself to be part of that same
Establishment. And that conflict is irreconcilable.
If CPAC 2016 shows us anything, it’s that the conservative movement
is incapable of reforming itself. Change will have to be forced upon it.
It’s easy to imagine CPAC 2036 speakers still paying tribute to Ronald Reagan amid the crumbling ruins of a Third World America,
promising one more round of “deregulation” will make it all okay. Many
of them would rather lose without Trump, and more importantly without
his supporters, than win with them.
It’s a great sign for immigration patriots that Rubio has faded and
the two leading candidates for the nomination both claim to be on our
But immigration must remain at the center of the 2016 campaign—or
there won’t be much of an American Right, or an American nation, left to