By Jon Dougherty
If you still wonder why the Republican establishment remains furious at POTUS Donald Trump, vehemently opposed to him, and outraged at the fact that he’s still in the White House despite a soft coup attempt and two years’ worth of character assassinations, it’s this: He has not only redefined what it means to be ‘conservative’ but also what the conservative movement stands for and the direction it is headed.
No matter what the establishment has thrown at him, POTUS Trump retains a fiercely loyal core of supporters that actually appears to be growing, as evidenced by recent approval ratings that topped 50 percent.
He’ll need them as he heads into what is likely going to be the most contentious presidential election of our time. Democrats and establishment RINOs, stung by the loss of Hillary Clinton, are almost frothing at the mouth to get rid of the president and are willing to do and say anything to make that happen.
The president laid out his vision of what today’s conservatism is really all about during a fiery speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland over the weekend. In doing so, Trump acknowledged that to get where he is today, where the country is today, and where conservatism is today, he had to do it his own way.
As the Washington Times noted, Trump “delivered a tour de force speech” at CPAC, even as self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced his second bid for the White House in New York:
The president told thousands of activists gathered in suburban Maryland that he is their bulwark against a wave of socialism that is cresting in the Democratic Party, he introspected on the tricky negotiations with North Korea, he made news by announcing a looming executive order on free speech on college campuses and he flashed new anger at efforts to investigate him — even using profanity to describe it.
“This is how I got elected, by being off script,” the president said. “And if we don’t go off script, our country is in big trouble, folks.”
Support for the president isn’t ‘traditional’ conservatism, the Times declared. For instance, Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding to build portions of a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is an aberration of the principle of small government.
Also, employing tariffs rather than relying solely on ‘free markets’ aren’t something that ‘traditional conservatives’ would have resorted to when it came to trade policy.
But we’re not in a normal, ‘traditional’ political environment these days.
More than anything else, the “new conservatism” practiced by President Trump is extremely pragmatic in that it recognizes and understands new political realities that traditional establishment conservatives either won’t see or can’t see.
The GOP’s principal opponent, the Democratic Party, has veered so far away from its historical place as the “party of main street America” and has morphed into an authoritarian Marxist entity willing to break laws, violate protocol, vanquish civility, and encourage violence just to win.
In fact, POTUS acknowledged this during his speech. “Right now we have people in Congress who hate our country. And you know that. And we could name every one of them if they want,” he declared.
There’s no doubt that he is correct. They not only demonstrate a disdain for our country but also our Constitution and the founding principles of small “r” republicanism.
A Washington Times/CPAC survey not only found a vast majority who agreed with POTUS on the emergency declaration for the border, and his tariffs (which are working, by the way), they also sided with him on pulling U.S. troops out of various long-running ‘brushfire wars’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
“The base is there, the president is defining the conservative movement right now,” said Jim McLaughlin, who conducted the poll. “The president is capturing the heart, the mind, the soul of the conservative movement.”
During his speech, the president noted that no matter what he does, he’s chided by the establishment which continues, despite his obvious, documented successes, to show him nothing but disdain because he’s not ‘one of them’ and never will be.
But that’s an endearing quality to his growing legions of supporters. They love Trump for the way he pulls no punches in describing his opponents. And most are thrilled that the conservative movement has at its helm a Republican president who isn’t afraid to punch back.
Of Democrats, for instance, the president said at CPAC, “They’re embracing open borders, socialism, and extreme late-term abortion.”
He added: “We hopefully are going to be here for six more years We believe in the American dream — not in the socialist nightmare.”
That’s gold to his supporters.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10