CPAC arrived in Orlando with one goal: canceling Abraham Lincoln and replacing him with their political martyr, Donald J. Trump.
Opinion by Matthew Royer, Staff Writer
A former president walking into a hotel in Orlando is dejectedly not the start of a joke, while it probably should be.
Over the weekend of Feb. 25-28 at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, the Conservative Political Action Conference met for its yearly gala of grandeur themed, “America, Uncanceled.” The hottest stars of the conservative political world appeared in numbers that would make one think that the pandemic was over in the United States. This is not the case, as the U.S. reached 500,000 lives lost to the coronavirus that same week.
At the conference, the world was shown a golden statue of former President Donald J. Trump, one that looks like something seen outside a Bob’s Big Boy.
For the party of prayer in school, ignoring the Old Testament’s definition of an idol came as a surprise, but for those who have paid attention these last few years, it should only come as an expectation of what occurs within the conservative movement.
Speakers spoke, singers sang — or tried — over the first three days, but the main event was Sunday night when Trump finally took the stage addressing the Grand Old Party for the first time since leaving office.
During his address, the former president spread his usual lies, like how President Joe Biden stole the presidency from him or how he single-handedly produced the vaccines developed by companies such as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
The most dangerous thing that occurred during Trump’s speech was the divisions he once again attempted to form within his party, pushing the party’s agenda even further into extremism, giving credibility to those in the Republican Party such as extremists like Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). This came at a time in which many are pushing for bipartisanship with the Democratic Party. Arguably, these divisions have already permanently been set in stone, and have been for some while now.
Trump went after his rivals in the GOP in his speech, according to CSPAN’s transcript of the events.
“The Democrats don't have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey,” said Trump, as he named more politicians that he had personal grudges against. “And of course, the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that?”
The crowd cheered him on, while he bashed those keeping the somewhat respected conservative movement afloat in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives by coming across as sane individuals. He repeated his usual call and response in which he said one of his detractors’ names, allowing for a pause so the crowd could react with a sea of boos.
The fact is, if Abraham Lincoln was in attendance at CPAC in 2021, he would have been booed too. Lincoln, to Trump and his supporters, would be considered a Republican in name only, as he does not embrace the same hateful rhetoric made mainstream by the MAGA movement.
Trump’s focus on attacking lawmakers considered center-right in the Republican Party creates a dilemma that could force those in the Republican Party who detract from the former president out completely from the party’s discourse. Leaving just those who believe in Trump’s doctrine to run the party and its agenda.
Republicans like Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and even the more outspoken members of the Republican Party like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) need to not only take a stand against their party’s leadership but walk out the door as well.
The time has come for a new conservative party, one that at least could resemble the great 16th President of the United States in its values and function. While efforts to mobilize these “anti-Trump Republicans” have been made in the past, as seen with The Lincoln Project, they struggled to get off the ground and ultimately failed after scandals erupted about sexual harassment allegations of its co-founder John Weaver, according to the Associated Press.
A united front needs to be presented, even if it does mean a split between the conservative wing of the United States’ political spectrum. While this could prevent a conservative from holding the presidency for decades, most importantly it could preserve American democracy in the process preventing Trump and his allies from taking grasp of the highest office in the land once again.