CPAC and the Trump 2024 Agenda
This week was time for the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) annual meeting, labeled by most media as a group of Right-Wing Radicals. Stories abound about who was refusing to attend and how the attendance was dramatically down.
Every announced Republican candidate for president was there (and a few who haven’t decided). Attendance, based on how many participated in the CPAC straw poll, was the highest ever. Although many seats were empty during discussion events on Wednesday through Friday, the hall was full for the speakers on Saturday.
There were some surprising speakers, including former Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard and a former Obama spokesperson, who moderated a discussion on Ukraine. Former Brazilian president Bolsonaro spoke as well as former British politician Nigel Farage. The event showcased up and coming politicians – some who are surely being considered as VP possibilities. These included Kari Lake, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, former governor Nikki Haley, and Congresswoman Lauren Boebert.
The media made much of Florida Governor DeSantis and former VP Mike Pence not attending. However, they probably would not have done well if they had attended. Governor DeSantis is not known as a “retail” politician type of politician, and he has avoided interviews with conservative media. And CPAC attendees like politicians who mingle with the crowd. While DeSantis will probably benefit from the campaign money picked up at the Club for Growth event he attended, CPAC attendees are the grassroots people who will be working the streets in 2024.
Despite that, DeSantis came in second place in the straw poll as the attendee’s choice for president. Of course, Trump got 62%, while DeSantis got 20%. Arizona candidate for Governor Kari Lake came in first place for VP, garnering 20%. DeSantis got 14%.
Last year DeSantis received 28% last year and Trump got 59%, which indicates that Trump is still relevant in the GOP and DeSantis is seeing an erosion of support in the grassroots.
Tulsi Gabbard was a combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq, advocated a more restrained American foreign policy and pushed to end US financial support for Ukraine.
“I want a strong, well-funded, highly capable military that we rarely use,” Gabbard said. “I think we need a focused foreign policy based on realism.”
Of course, the star of the show was Trump and the standing room only crowd proved that. For those who wonder if he is running, he made it clear, when he gave a list of priorities when and if he is “elected 47th president of the United States.”
The Trump Agenda
Trump made his agenda clear both in his speech on Saturday and a video released on Friday.
The biggest priority is his fight against the federal bureaucracy, which he calls “the deep state.” He said on Saturday, “If you put me back in the White House, their reign will be over, and they know it…I will obliterate the deep state.”
He continued, “I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and shadow forces, who have weaponized our justice system.”
Not all his promises are likely to come true. He promised to close the Department of Education, something that has been on the Republican agenda since it was formed during the Carter Administration. President Regan promised it, but never could get it through Congress.
Of course, as any politician, Trump also made big promises. As part of what his campaign calls “Agenda 47,” he promised to bring back America’s boldness “in a very big way” and herald a “quantum leap” in living standards.
“Past generations of Americans pursued big dreams and daring projects…They pushed across an unsettled continent and built new cities,” Trump said in a video released on Friday. “But today our country has lost its boldness. Under my leadership, we will get it back in a big way.”
Trump also promised a “Strategic National Manufacturing Initiative” that will mean that the US will no longer have to import goods from China. The American manufacturing sector is currently struggling through various challenges like inflation, talent scarcity, supply chain problems and economic uncertainty. He also promised to eliminate China’s most favorite nation status.
In terms of addressing the growing crime in the nation, he promised more support for the police. “We love and cherish our police.” He spoke. “They will do the job the way they have to.” He also promised to bring the National Guard into cities, “Until law and order is restored.”
To change the demographic time bomb that is making America older as the birth rate declines, Trump said he will ask Congress to support “baby bonuses” for young parents to encourage a baby boom. In addition, he proposed a new initiative to lower the cost of a new car and the cost of building single family homes – high-cost items that discourage starting a new family.
Trump also promised to lower energy costs by once again encouraging oil and gas exploration and development in the US.
Trump ended his speech by advocating conservative social issues like parental rights. “We will rename our schools and boulevards not after communists, but after great American patriots…We will dismantle the deep state. We will demolish woke tyranny.”
Some may call this sort of speech extreme right wing, but polls show them popular with the republican base. That is why Trump is leading his Republican competitors by a large margin and why polls show that Trump may do very well this time against Biden if the latter runs again for president.