Trump’s CPAC Triumph - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Trump’s CPAC Triumph
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President Donald Trump speaks at CPAC on Aug. 6, 2022 (YouTube/The Independent)

There were two headlines from the last week that speak the same truth. Both are from Fox. The first is this:

Trump easily wins Texas CPAC 2024 GOP presidential nomination straw poll; DeSantis second

Trump captured 69.1% of ballots cast, DeSantis received 23.7% in the anonymous CPAC straw poll

The story begins:

DALLAS – Former President Donald Trump convincingly won the 2024 GOP presidential nomination straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) three-day gathering in Texas.

Trump, who’s repeatedly teased making another presidential run in 2024 to try and return to the White House, captured 69% of ballots cast in the anonymous online straw poll, according to results announced by CPAC on Saturday.

The support for the former president, who remains the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party and continues to play a kingmaker’s role in GOP primaries, is up from his 59% showing in the anonymous online straw poll at the CPAC gathering in Orlando, Florida in February.

The second story featured an interview with CPAC/American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp. That headline said this:

CPAC proves Trump will lead conservative movement until he ‘takes his last breath,’ Matt Schlapp says

Trump was the clear choice for 2024 among CPAC attendees

This second story says this:

There is this other piece which Donald Trump shares uniquely in American politics on the conservative side, and that is because he was so authentic about what he said he would do and then what he did do … this bond formed between the conservative movement and Donald Trump where he didn’t just say he was going to move the embassy, he moved it,” Schlapp continued. “He didn’t just say he was going to pick the next generation of Clarence Thomas, he picked three of them. He just went right down the line and did what he said he was going to do.

Exactly.

Full disclosure, I attended CPAC Dallas myself. The former president was the last speaker of the four-day event, closing it out to thunderous ovations. But in the lead-up to that moment, the CPAC site was absolutely afloat in Trump merchandise — hats, buttons, bumper stickers, shirts, and more. Without doubt, Donald Trump is the one to whom conservatives at CPAC look as their leader.

I have been going to CPAC since its inception in the 1970s. As I recall, the very first one around 1975 featured then-former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, who absolutely wowed the crowd. Over time, the bonding between CPAC audiences and Reagan became ironclad. Once elected, Reagan was a regular at CPAC gatherings.

It is abundantly clear that Trump, like Reagan, has indeed forged an immutable bond with CPAC attendees.

And I would suggest that a major reason for the popularity of both Reagan and Trump with CPACers is that both led the party away from its one-time image as the Party of the Country Club and sniffy elites. Or, as the late professor Angelo Codevilla of Boston University said in the pages of The American Spectator and a later book-length version of the article, America has become divided between what Codevilla called the “Ruling Class” and the “Country Class.”

Again, Codevilla’s definition of the Ruling Class was this:

Today’s Ruling Class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters – speaking the ‘in’ language-serves as a badge of identity.

The opposite of all this smirking intellectual superiority is exactly what underlies the Country Class. And … who knew? … that of all people, it would be New York billionaire Donald Trump who would establish himself as the spokesmen for the Country Class. Not unlike actor Ronald Reagan did by defeating the GOP establishment of his day.

What was vividly on display at CPAC Dallas is that CPAC itself has become a serious Country Class political factor — with Donald Trump the energizing force at the head of it.

And to the chagrin of his enemies in and out of the Republican Party, he and the Country Class he represents aren’t going anywhere.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com. His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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