At CPAC, Trump Doubles Down on Populism

In his CPAC speech on Sunday, former president Trump articulated a populist vision for the future of the Republican Party and for America.  At the heart of the president's thinking lies a powerful message of hope for America's working people.  Unlike the Democrats' idea of governance by and for the elite, Donald Trump believes in the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — the principles of equality, opportunity, and unalienable rights.

These principles did not vanish with the 2020 election, nor has President Trump.  The conflict between the elitist and populist vision of America is the most crucial social and political issue of our time.  I believe that the 2020 election was stolen because the political elite realized they could not defeat President Trump in a fair fight.  Trump's populist vision is shared by at least 74 million Americans, and likely by far more.  If the fraud can be contained, 2022 and 2024 will be victorious elections for the GOP and for populism in America.

Declaring that his political journey is "far from over" and hinting that he may be the GOP presidential candidate in 2024 (and ruling out a third-party run), President Trump laid out the policy differences between his and President Biden's administrations.  For most watching the speech, Trump's policies on immigration, job creation, constitutionalism, and foreign policy are clearly superior to those of Biden and Democrats in Congress.  A CPAC straw poll revealed that 95% of those voting wished to see Trump's policies and agenda advanced.

Underlying all of Trump's remarks was the stark divide between heartland Americans and the coastal elite.  The president's assurance that conservatives will win in 2022 and 2024 rests on his belief that conservative thinking is "common sense" and that the conservative vision of America is founded on God-given rights.  If that thinking truly is common sense and those rights truly are God-given — and if, as Trump stressed in his speech, Republicans set about to forestall election fraud before the next election — a conservative victory is likely.

Since before its founding as a nation, America attracted a population that sought personal liberty and economic opportunity.  A despotic, class-based system of privilege stood in the way of this population, and the British Crown imposed the same sort of tyranny that liberals seek to implant in America today.  Americans do not want a European-style government with power centralized in the capital and exercised by a permanent elite akin to the graduates of Oxbridge in Britain or the École nationale d'administration in France.  The European political mentality — a mentality that would accept unelected members of a commission in Brussels as rulers — derives from centuries of serfdom that taught acceptance of an inherited class system.  That mentality is alien to America's thinking, but elitists in the Democratic Party are trying to impose it on us.

Biden and the elite that surround him know little about the real America or the wishes of the American people.  Secretary of state Antony Blinken, for example, has practically no business experience outside government or, from what I can determine, any significant contact with ordinary Americans outside the coastal culture.  He has served in the Clinton, Obama, and Biden administrations and with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and with a liberal think-tank when Democrats were out of power.  Blinken attended an elite prep school in New York City, followed by Harvard and Columbia Law School.  His father and uncle were U.S. ambassadors, and Blinken himself began working on Democrat presidential campaigns as early as 1988, when he was just 26.

There is no record of Blinken's ever working in the private sector (that is, producing or building anything), but he has played an important role in WestExec Advisors and Pine Island Capital Partners, for which he was hired, according to its chairman, for his "access, network and expertise."  This sounds to me a lot like influence-peddling, something the Biden family appears to have engaged in as well, so much so that the New York Times — hardly a unfriendly source — questioned Blinken's potential conflicts of interest if appointed as Biden's secretary of state.

As it is, Blinken is not the only person associated with Pine Island Capital Partners close to Biden.  The list includes Lloyd Austin and Michele Fournoy.  In fact, almost all of Biden's Cabinet appointees, from Blinken to Janet Yellen and John Kerry, fit the same mold: graduation from elite schools, long histories of government service, no real business experience, and complete loyalty to the Washington elite.

It is this elite that President Trump is determined to defeat as he continues to work for the good of "every American," as he declared on Sunday.  As he reaffirmed his overriding policy of "America First," Trump was in effect declaring that he will not accept the influence of the political elite, either in this country or from other countries that wish to exploit the American people by way of the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, weak trade agreements, flawed immigration deals, and other failures of Democrat administrations.

What all of these failures have in common is their disregard for the ordinary working American, who is forced to pay for giveaways that enrich foreign entities through deals negotiated by liberals who then benefit in some way from them.  In his CPAC speech, President Trump presented a remarkably clear-eyed assessment of the stakes we face and of the difficult road ahead.  It will not be easy to defeat an articulate and united political elite determined to retain its privileges at the expense of a less organized and less unified public.  But the great weakness of the left, as our former president pointed out, is that leftist policies are simply wrong.

In the long run, no reasonable person can defend the idea of surrendering our sovereignty to our enemies.  Once it is clear what Biden intends, most Americans, I believe, will rally around conservatives in 2022 and 2024.  To paraphrase Isoroku Yamamoto, the American electorate is a sleeping giant.  Biden's radicalism may be just what it takes to awaken it. 

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).

Image: Reuters via YouTube.

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