How CPAC Helped Launch Donald Trump’s Political Career

Trump didn’t wing it entirely. He shrewdly picked issues ― abortion, guns and Obamacare ― to appeal to the GOP base, earning standing ovations when he pledged his conservative orthodoxy on these matters. The crowd (at least the non-Ron Paul-supportive elements of it) ate it up, while out in the halls there was palpable buzz.

.. Trump almost didn’t make it to CPAC that year. The gay-conservative group GOProud, which was waging its own battles with conference organizers, initially invited him.

.. GOProud’s former chairman Chris Barron thought of the idea of getting Trump to attend. He reached out to Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime confidant, about the possibility. They collectively agreed to the idea.

.. “When Trump walked into the building, it was like Michael Jackson coming out of a Japanese airport. There were throngs of people around him,” he added. “From the moment when he walked into the door, I knew this was different.”

.. “The mere fact of showing up ultimately makes you more acceptable, because being nice to people and talking to them beats the hell out of calling them names,”
.. “Though he does both.”

.. “Here’s a person who’s willing to expand the party, the movement. Him being accepting to gays … is one of the biggest reasons why I thought young conservatives would accept him,” she said.

Donald Trump’s Friendless America

Donald J. Trump began his first day as president listening to a favorite Baptist preacher, Robert Jeffress, who has suggested that the Catholic Church was led astray by Satan, that Mormonism and Islam both “came from the pit of hell,” that gay people lead a “miserable” and “filthy” lifestyle, that Mr. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, was “paving the way” for the Antichrist — and that God Himself made Mr. Trump president.

.. a day in which our new vice president, Mike Pence, refused to even shake the hand of the defeated presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.

.. For Mr. Trump, there are no real American friends in the world, just countries that steal our jobs and our money, while letting us dangerously deplete our military and leave our borders undefended. (He did, ominously, promise us “new” alliances.)

.. Here at home, we are no longer the active and able citizens of a proud democracy at its zenith, but a collection of miserable victims, beleaguered by an “American carnage” of poverty, welfare, “rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation,” crime, drug addiction and the appeasers of those evil foreigners.

.. The commentators just kept talking about how at least this was “a peaceful transfer of power.” How low our expectations have become.

What Does Your Party Want?

Securing the loyalty of the millions of white working-class Americans who lined up behind Trump will require that all three wings of the Republican Party — its business faction, its ideological purists and its cultural traditionalists — abandon any idea of strict adherence to core conservative principles on fiscal and social policy.

“Just as Reagan converted the G.O.P. into a conservative party, with his victory this year, Trump has converted the G.O.P. into a populist, America First party,”

.. Trade and immigration are in my view unambiguously good for the country — but new policies on these issues will have to be done in ways that are supported by the American people, not shoved down their throats by the elites. In this regard, I am a populist. The elites in both parties have not understood Trumpism and have often been contemptuous of the intellect and lifestyle of the Trump loyalists.

.. These voters have shunned Republicans because they disagree with the party’s focus on low taxes, small government, and pro-business policies. They benefit enormously from middle-class entitlement programs; their children get what they consider to be good educations from public schools and state universities. They have no problem with redistribution so long as it is focused on either people who can’t work or people who do.

.. Where movement conservatives see many social programs and the high taxes that fund them as threats to liberty, these voters see them as giving decent, hard-working people a hand up to live decent, dignified lives. Where business conservatives see free trade or immigration as helping people and increasing growth, these voters see those policies as favoring foreigners over themselves and as just another way that their bosses try to pay them less without justification.

.. newly recruited white working-class converts to Trump’s Republican Party do not consider conservative dogma on gay rights, abortion, gender identity, or traditional marriage their priority.=

.. Bannon described the goal of the “entirely new political movement” he believes Trump is leading:

It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.

.. Bannon is explicit in his identification of the enemy:

The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over. If we deliver, we’ll get 60 percent of the white vote, and 40 percent of the black and Hispanic vote and we’ll govern for 50 years.

.. This ad was part and parcel of an election that has put some of the most vocal House Republicans, including the vaunted Freedom Caucus, on notice that defying Trump’s right-populist orientation could put their political future at risk.

.. “Trump dominated — in the primary and general elections — those districts represented by Congress’s most conservative members,” Tim Alberta wrote in National Review (he is now at Politico):

They once believed they were elected to advance a narrowly ideological agenda, but Trump’s success has given them reason to question that belief.

.. Even if they support Trump nine times of ten, voting against him once could trigger a tweetstorm or the threat of a visit to their district. It’s a chilling thought for members who know that the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the House GOP leadership already want them gone.

Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, plans to make full use of Trump’s leverage to keep recalcitrant members of the Freedom Caucus in line.

The fatuous foolishness of the Manhattan Declaration

Such self-inflation demands deflation. And anyway it can’t be helped. I mean, just listen to them:

We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.

The whole thing is like that — like a bad parody of the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V. Except of course that Henry was outnumbered. Here instead we have a group of powerful elites, men at the center of political, cultural, academic and ecclesiastical privilege bemoaning their oppression at the hands of the homosexuals and religious minorities they claim run the world. They are overlords posing as underdogs.

.. The anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-religious minority Manhattan Declaration is not primarily about opposing any of those things. That’s all just collateral damage. The primary purpose of the Manhattan Declaration, its raison d’etre, is to help the authors and signatories convince themselves that they’re better than everyone else. The ridiculous, overweening pride is what it’s for.