Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, and the right-wing intelligentsia is likely on pins and needles. The anticipation for the event has been building ever since his appearance was announced.
In his first public speech since President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump is expected to discuss issues like immigration, election integrity, and others. But many who have seen the beginning of a civil war on the right are speculating as to whether or not he will fire his opening salvo on the establishment elite within the Republican Party.
What Response Can Trump Expect?
Members of the GOP establishment seemed to be trying to drop Trump like a bad habit after the riots at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. While most Republican lawmakers refused to support the Democrats’ politically-motivated effort to impeach him, they appeared to hold him responsible for the violence.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claimed that Trump was “morally responsible” for the assault on the Capitol, despite not voting in favor of conviction during the impeachment trial. Several GOP lawmakers also chimed in, predicting that the former president’s influence has been diminished.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) stated that he should have “no part” in determining the GOP’s future. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), despite voting against conviction, stated that he was not condoning Trump’s conduct. “There’s no way. You can’t defend much of what happened in the last almost three months since the Nov. 3 election,” Thune argued.
On Sunday, Trump will have the opportunity to strike back at his GOP establishment naysayers. Knowing the 45th president, he will take full advantage of this platform to put these people on notice.
GOP Voters Bullish On Trump
It is pretty much a given that the GOP elite would seek to turn the page on the Trump era and begin another epoch that closely resembles that of the pre-Trump age. But if recent signs are any indication, the Republican electorate isn’t having any of it.
As Liberty Nation’s Leesa Donner noted: “The Trump base remains solid. It is so rock-hard that the former president is becoming known as Teflon Don.”
A recent survey revealed that 54% of right-leaning voters expressed “stronger loyalty to Trump the person,” than “to the Republican Party that twice nominated him for the White House.”
Yet another survey, conducted by the Economist and YouGov showed that only 23% of Republican voters stated they would support a candidate who criticized Trump, while 61% indicated an endorsement from the former president would increase their likelihood of supporting a person running for president.
As the establishment GOP seems intent on leaving Trump in the dust, at least one of the elites seems to recognize the writing on the wall. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) recently confessed that he believed Trump would secure the presidential nomination if he ran in 2024. “He has by far the largest voice and a big impact in my party,” he said during a New York Times virtual event on Tuesday. “I don’t know if he’ll run in 2024 or not, but if he does, I’m pretty sure he will win the nomination.”
The senator continued: “I look at the polls, and the polls show that among the names being floated as potential contenders in 2024, if you put President Trump in there among Republicans, he wins in a landslide.”
Romney also said that if Trump were to run again, he would not support his candidacy. “I would not be voting for President Trump again. I haven’t voted for him in the past,” he insisted. “And I would probably be getting behind somebody who I thought more represented the tiny wing of the Republican Party that I represent.”
In his remarks, Romney was expressing the same sentiments as many other members of the bourgeoisie GOP. On Tuesday, Rep. Cheney channeled her inner AOC when she stressed that the GOP must “make clear we aren’t the party of white supremacy.”
Nevertheless, the rank-and-file conservative voter is not on board the “let’s go back to business as usual” train. If these people show up at the polls for the 2022 primary elections, a sizeable amount of the elites might be sent packing. After Trump speaks at CPAC on Sunday, the base will be galvanized to do just that.
How Will Trump’s Speech Shape The GOP’s Future?
The former president has already indicated that he plans to target lawmakers who voted in favor of impeachment and conviction, along with other establishment figures who seek to bring the Republican Party back to the good ol’ pre-Trump days when they could get fat and lazy while doing absolutely nothing for their constituents. There can be no doubt that Trump will give them a well-deserved tongue lashing while riling up the rank-and-file Republican voters who have once again grown weary of the GOP elite.
If Trump does what many expect, the right will see the first real shots fired in the conservative movement’s upcoming civil war. Along with savaging the Romney wing of the Republican Party, he will likely cast his vision for the 2022 primary season, in which right-leaning voters will have an opportunity to unseat squishy GOP lawmakers who behave more like Diet Democrats than authentic conservatives.
The conflict between the establishment elites and the rank-and-file conservatives has been brewing since the election. But after Trump gives his speech, the battle just might go into full swing. The victor of this conflagration will likely determine the future of the Republican Party and conservative movement.
Read more from Jeff Charles.
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