As the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) winds down, the mainstream media is admitting President Trump’s economic nationalist victory in taking over the conservative movement and thus, the Republican Party.
In POLITICO Magazine, Tim Alberta notes how CPAC attendees booing down of ‘Never Trump’ National Review columnist Mona Charen after she criticized Trump and French economic nationalist Marion Le Pen embodied the shift in which the movement has made away from open borders, free trade, and foreign interventionism.
Charen’s outpouring of dissent accentuated how quickly and completely CPAC has become a pro-Trump gathering, just two years removed from him skipping the event because of a planned walk-out among conservatives who opposed his candidacy. Late Friday morning, with a standing-room-only ballroom full of conservative activists thundering down applause, Trump told of the “horrendous” immigrants taking advantage of our visa lottery system. He warned of dangerous and unproductive people arriving via “chain migration.” And then, underscoring these threats, the president dusted off “The Snake,” a ballad he often recited on the campaign trail, which likens immigrants welcomed by America to a venomous serpent that bites and kills the woman who took it in.
It seemed to set a tone. Gaffney, invited back to CPAC after being banished from the event for years, warned that most of the Chinese nationals in the United States are here to spy on Americans. A short while later, Rick Ungar, a left-wing radio host whom Schlapp invited for a panel discussion, was booed when he described a naturalization ceremony—and again when he said that Mexican immigrants have “more in common” with conservatives than liberals. That night, Schlapp’s communications director, Ian Walters, stunned attendees of the event’s trademark Ronald Reagan Dinner by saying the Republican National Committee elected Michael Steele as chairman in 2009 “because he’s a black guy.”
All of this in one day—and less than 24 hours after the Trump administration changed the mission statement of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency to remove the phrase, “a nation of immigrants.”
The Washington Post‘s David Weigel also mentioned the economic nationalist shift at CPAC because of Trump and his popular “America First” agenda. With youth, specifically, the issue of reducing immigration to the U.S. to raise the wages and quality of life of Americans was particularly popular.
In interviews around the conference, CPAC attendees frequently agreed that immigration to the United States should be limited. Angie Ross, a sophomore at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said immigration policy should reflect that America is “not a charity” but a sovereign country.
“I’m a second-generation American, and my family came here based on merit,” said Ross, as she waited in a throng of people trying to meet Nigel Farage. “We’ve had family members who were sent back—they came to Ellis Island, and they didn’t qualify to be here. That’s how it goes. I think we should hold up on immigration for now, because there are so many Americans in poverty.”
Mike Cernovich, a pro-Trump media figure who has argued that Trump “rejected the concept of white guilt” on his way to victory, also made the rounds at CPAC, in advance of a party he had organized for Saturday night.
“White guilt won’t win any votes,” said Cernovich. “Guilt is a defensive emotion, based around a need to apologize. Once you start apologizing for something, people will dig up 100 more issues for you to apologize for. Then you’ll never move forward in life.”
Trump’s shifting of the conservative movement and Republican Party in a populist, economic nationalist direction is vastly supported by the party’s base of supporters.
For example, on immigration, a Harvard-Harris poll last week revealed that GOP voters now say reducing overall immigration to the United States should be the second-greatest priority for Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress.
Additionally, nearly half of black Americans say they want to see legal immigration levels greatly reduced, the most supportive demographic group of cutting legal immigration down to between one and 250,000 legal immigrants a year.
Likewise, nearly 80 percent of Americans said they supported Trump’s plan to change the country’s immigration system to one based on merit, skills, and English proficiency, rather than the current system where foreign nationals with family members living in the U.S. are given priority.
Trump’s efforts to ramp up interior immigration enforcement—where in Fiscal Year 2017 deportations of illegal aliens living throughout the U.S. increased by nearly 40 percent—have been beneficial to America’s working and middle class.
For example, the strict immigration enforcement thus far has led to historic wage increases for American workers in the construction industry, the garment industry, for workers employed at small businesses, and black Americans.
Opponents of reducing immigration levels include the establishment media, the billionaire GOP mega-donors the Koch brothers, the Democratic Party, the Republican establishment, the Bush dynasty, corporate interests, and the open borders lobby.