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CPAC and the Trump takeover of the GOP

Posted by Steve Turley ● Mar 5, 2018 4:11:11 PM

The latest Conservative Political Action Conference confirms that the Republican Party has become the nationalist populist party of the United States. I am sure many of you have been following the CPAC speaker line-up, and if you have, you know that it was really the who’s who of the new nationalist right that has swept into power as a result of President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory. Topics such as economic nationalism, and trade, and immigration, and Christian traditionalism dominated the conference, as well as speakers such as President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, as well as the stars of the European right such as Britain’s Nigel Farage and France’s Marion Le Pen, the niece of French Presidential candidate and National Front Leader, Marine Le Pen.

Now, I think that Pat Buchanan is absolutely right on this; on the latest episode of the McLaughlin Group, Buchanan argued that CPAC demonstrated that the war with the conservative movement was over, and that Trump’s nationalist populist takeover of the GOP has been solidified, which, as we have argued consistently on this channel, is just par for the course in the global turn to the right we’re seeing almost everywhere we look.

Buchanan argued that today’s Republican Party is basically a combination of Reagan and Trump. It’s a Reagan party on issues like taxes, guns, and judges; however, on the new issues, the populist conservative issues— such as control of the borderimmigration, economic nationalism versus free trade, staying out of foreign wars, the GOP has become the America first party, the party of nationalist populism. In Buchanan’s words, the Bush Party has become the Trump party.

Now I think Pat is being a little modest here. Over the past three decades, it is widely agreed that CPAC has become the premier conservative gathering in the nation. But we can all too easily forget how it started back in 1974. Back then, it was just about 400 attendees; today the conference numbers in the thousands with national media coverage to boot. It was originally forged in the wake of the Watergate scandal when conservatives were pretty demoralized. They felt that they needed annual events and conferences to help put conservative policies back on track. They could not have chosen a better speaker to start off their first ever annual CPAC conference; the featured speaker was none other than the then governor of California, one Ronald Reagan. But also in attendance that year was a young firebrand who had been working for Nixon, the one and only Patrick J. Buchanan. And so, as it turned out, there would simply be no two men who would have a greater impact on the direction of the GOP than Reagan and Buchanan: Reagan of course in his two very successful presidential terms and Buchanan through his writings and influence on nationalist populist traditionalism that has recently come to dominate the party through the candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump. And so, I think Pat’s being a bit modest here. I would argue that the Bush Party has become the Reagan-Buchanan Party.

So, since the 1970s, CPAC really has become a bellwether for American conservative politics. We have to remember that the GOP is made up of a number of wings or factions. You have the conservative wing, which is made up of the Christian conservatives, the so-called moral conservatives on the one hand, and fiscal conservatives on the other; they tend to be united by small government, low taxes, pro-life legislation, and a muscular self-defense. On the other side you have of course the neo-cons, who are characterized by a conservative vision of globalism: they are thoroughgoing globalists, they just happen to be on the right of globalism rather than on the Hillary Clinton left. They are supporters of free markets and human rights and an interventionist foreign policy; they support the European Union and the IMF and all of the grand globalist organizations. And then you have the libertarian wing, represented by the likes of Ron Paul and Rand Paul, which are of course for radically limited government; they’re generally traditional when it comes to morality, both Ron Paul and Rand Paul are pro-life, but then you get the Gary Johnson’s and the like who are very socially liberal but who want to slash government taxation, programs, and intrusion. And, then, in addition to all of this, there has always been what we often referred to as the paleo-cons, or the paleoconservatives, led by the likes of Pat Buchanan, who are the nationalist populist traditionalist wing of the Republican Party. They advocate closed borders and an overhaul of the 1965 Immigration Act, economic populism and the protection of American manufacturing and industry, and of course traditional Christian values as the basis for protecting American culture from the rot of narcissistic consumerist lifestyle values that have sold-off our manufacturing base to the globalist division of labor, sending industry to the global south.

Now, in many respects, the paleo-con or nationalist populist wing was pushed out by the neo-cons; the Pat Buchanan’s of the world were no longer invited to conservative conferences; they were rejected by the likes of National Review that saw conservatives and neocons as representing the new consensus. But that never really worked with CPAC; CPAC never seemed that convinced that a neocon led Republican Party was the wave of the future. What is so fascinating is that of these four factions, really in many respects only two have vied for dominance at CPAC. CPAC has always leaned either conservative or libertarian; or really more Tea Party like. The neocons were never really accepted there. They made their obligatory appearances, like Romney did during his presidential aspirations in 2012. But neocons and CPAC have never been on friendly terms. And I think for good reason; CPAC was right, the neocon globalist faction ended up just completely falling apart, as we saw with collapse of the George W. Bush presidency, who left with one of the lowest approval ratings of any president, which was then followed by the subsequent John McCain disaster, which was then of course followed by the disaster of Mitt Romney. The neocon globalist faction has imploded, at least at the electoral level; they still have this bizarre way of sticking around in the DC swamp, don’t they? 

What of course makes the last few years so interesting is that it appears that the nationalist populist, or paleo-con faction, the Pat Buchanan wing of the party, which has ascended in the presidency of Donald Trump, has basically taken over CPAC; they have taken CPAC by storm. The nationalist populists have done what the neocons never could; they took over the speaker line-up and dominated the panels and workshops. I mean, if you want to get a sense of just how pervasive nationalist populism has become, just listen to the likes of Glenn Beck, who gave an interview to none other than The Washington Compost. Have you noticed what good friends Never-Trumpers have become with the establishment lamestream media? It is so interesting how willing they are to team up with the so-called liberal media they were so mercilessly bashing when they were in power. Beck told the compost that CPAC has rejected its small-government constitutionalism in favor of a dangerous populism and nationalism. He even went so far as to say that perhaps next year, CPAC will invite the white-nationalist Richard Spencer.

And here he was referring to CPAC’s invitation to Marion Le Pen, the niece of French Presidential candidate and National Front leader Marine Le Pen. Beck seems rather oblivious to the notion that CPAC is simply recognizing that it is part of a mass worldwide turn to the nationalist populist right, the very thing that we on this channel have been following and analyzing for over a year. 

You know, I don’t fault Glenn Beck, here; I just think he is making a huge mistake in judgment; he does not seem capable of seeing the big picture here, of what is going on all over the world. It is just easier to dismiss the backlash against globalization, for which Beck really has nothing to offer, easier to dismiss the backlash against globalization and the blowback against globalism’s propensity towards open borders and deindustrialization and detraditionalization as basically renewed fascism and Nazism. Oh well...

All of this is to say that there appears to be a clear consensus here, whether you are asking the likes of the New York Slimes and the Washington Compost, or Glenn Beck, or the executives at CPAC or Pat Buchanan, everyone is seeing pretty much the same thing: CPAC 2018 has confirmed the ascent of nationalist populist traditionalism as the dominant political paradigm of the Republican Party. And given the prominence of CPAC for conservatism in the US, which is really without equal, this is just another indicator that the world is turning more and more to the nationalist populist right. With speakers such as Nigel Farage and Marion Le Pen, it appears that CPAC is beginning to see itself as part of a larger worldwide turn to the nationalist populist right, a turn that is in many respects only just getting started. I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet. Welcome to the Reagan-Buchanan Party!

Topics: libertarian, nationalism, neocons, populism, republican party, neoconservative, CPAC

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