CPAC: The Laboratory of Trumpism

By NTK Staff | 02.24.2017 @8:35am

Close observers would have noticed the development and solidification of President Trump's worldview through his messages to the annual gathering of conservatives.

President Trump will address the 2017 CPAC crowd Friday morning.

Since 2011, President Donald Trump has spoken at every Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), except the 2012 and 2016 editions, outlining his view of the problems facing the United States of America. Anyone who paid close attention to his appearances would have noticed that Trump did not conjure up his successful 2016 platform on the spot, but rather it was a protracted development of his nationalistic worldview.

Great Again

In fact, Trump’s main message in 2016, “Make America Great Again,” found its origins in his 2011 speech. If the United States found the right leader, “our country will be great again,” Trump said.

Trump’s 2013 edition, however, included the full and complete version of his 2016 slogan. “We have to start manufacturing and building again and we have to make America great again,” Trump told the crowd.

Trump repeated the mantra in his 2014 and 2015 remarks to the conference.

Trade

A zero sum view of global relations also appeared in Trump’s speeches, a view that has informed his campaign and administration.

In 2011, Trump decried the fact that the United States was “rebuilding China,” by losing out to China in trade deals. “Our companies make a better product,” Trump said, praising American manufacturing. But he blamed Chinese currency manipulation for our manufacturing deficit with China.

“I’ve said on numerous occasions that countries like China, like India, South Korea, Mexico, and the OPEC nations view our leaders as weak and ineffective,” Trump said.

Trump’s 2014 speech included a lamentation that other countries did not respect the United States and “had no respect” for President Obama.

Then in 2015, months before he officially declared, Trump expanded on these previous ideas, saying in the past that we “beat” countries like China and Mexico, but the United States never wins. “When was the last time you heard something good about our country?” Trump asked. “We never win.”

Illegal Immigration

Trump’s signature issue during the campaign, illegal immigration, appeared as a theme in all his CPAC speeches since 2013. While not as zealous on fighting illegal immigration in 2012, Trump’s stance steadily hardened into an eventual call for a border wall in 2015.

In 2013, Trump criticized the idea that Republicans would join in legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants. “You can be out front. You can be the spearhead. You can do whatever you want to do, but every one of those 11 million people will be voting Democratic,” Trump said to the conservative crowd.

“We’re either a country or we’re not. We either have borders or we don’t,” Trump said at the 2014 edition of CPAC. Trump also criticized illegal immigrants further, saying, “They are taking your jobs.”

Trump’s view on illegal immigration reached its culmination in 2015 however, when he called for construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. “As far as our borders are concerned, we need strong borders. We need a wall,” Trump told the crowd, as he was preparing his successful presidential run.

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