By Gavin Wax
At the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Donald Trump demonstrated, once again, why he remains leader of the Republican Party. He made it clear that he should not be displaced until long after his 2024 presidential primary victory.
Trump showed the rhetorical brilliance that vaulted him from political outsider to the heir to Ronald Reagan in an instant. At a time when too many Republican politicians stumble over each other for positions just to lurch back toward the middle and lose their mettle, Trump gave the base the red meat they needed to hear.
“And if you put me back in the White House, their reign is over. Their reign will be over, and they know it,” Trump said, referring to his globalist enemies.
“We’re not a free nation right now. We don’t have a free press. We don’t have a free anything. In 2016, I declared, ‘I am your voice.’ Today I add: I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution!”.
No traditional 21st-century American politician would dare speak in such terms, risking being tagged as a hatemonger, a fascist, a racist, or any of the other pejoratives used by the fake news media. Just look at Trump’s present competition, announced and anticipated in 2024, for examples of reticence in the face of globalist authority.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is touting her heritage as a daughter of immigrants and taking girl-boss stances that may appeal to certain donors but certainly not to woke-weary Republican primary voters. Businessmen Perry Johnson and Vivek Ramaswamy are running presidential campaigns for name recognition and aren’t worth mentioning as serious contenders.
If former Vice President Mike Pence or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided to run for the presidency, they would do so by attacking the record of the man they served. They will be forced to echo talking points used by Democrats on issues such as January 6 and election fraud, which will be anathema to Republican voters. Pence and Pompeo, like Haley, are running cynical campaigns to grift off donors and compete for the scraps of the anti-Trump political class.
Trump only has one potential competitor in 2024: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has shown every indication that he is going to run but has held off on any official announcement. DeSantis is attempting to resurrect Reaganism while rewriting the history of how he was initially elected to be governor as a Trump clone. As the favored candidate of Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush, DeSantis will fail because of his unwillingness to touch the establishment’s third rails, like the reality of election fraud and the deep-seated evil of the deep state—subjects Trump is unafraid to broach. This will be DeSantis’ Achilles heel and cause him to fall to Trump as Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) did in 2016.
Trump’s newly proposed policies have already upped the ante in ways that no other politician can hope to match. He has called for universal tariffs, along with separating from China completely and a full-throated embrace of protectionism. These are policies that none of the typical Koch-owned, Club for Growth Republicans would ever suggest. The notion of taxing China to punish them while promoting national dominance is heresy to the libertarian orthodoxy that has guided the GOP during America’s shameful global decline.
Offering government incentives to boost birth rates with “baby bonuses,” calling for the beautification of modern architecture, and challenging Americans to design futuristic “Freedom Cities” are forward-thinking ideas that Republicans typically eschew, lazily preferring to let globalist corporations dictate the future of the nation and calling it the “free market.”
Trump’s education policy for 2024 focuses on culture war issues like CRT and transgenderism that establishment Republicans are only belatedly starting to embrace. He also called for tough-on-crime policies to expand the use of the death penalty, remove the homeless from the streets, champion the cash bail system, and use federal law enforcement to put down rioters when local police are ordered to let cities burn. These are policies that no other Republican presidential candidate in this era would ever devise; their donors would never stand for it. But with the Save America PAC stocked with hundreds of millions of dollars, Trump is not beholden to the donor class like his opponents are.
Trump’s willingness to flout the conventional wisdom of the political class is his ace in the hole. His steadfast defiance and will to resist, factors that would bring other political actors to their knees, are the things that define his status as a modern legend. While his critics like to pour over minutiae in an attempt to diminish his leadership profile, no man animates the American soul like Trump. No public figure comes close to captivating the American imagination like Trump.
Trump’s importance is less about his policy specifics—which the American people, by and large, neither understand nor care that much about—and more about what the man represents.