Donald J. Trump made the closing speech at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). In it he promised many things. Most people will likely notice that he promised revenge – and not for himself alone but also for those who have suffered under various policies Joe Biden has ordered, signed into law, or merely let stand. But in fact he promised more than revenge – he promised the kind of policies that make a civilizational state.
Trump still popular
The reportage on Trump’s speech is extensive. Just the News published four articles (see here, here, here and here). Other reports came from BizPac Review, The Epoch Times, and The Guardian. The Rumble channel “RedPillUSAPatriots” also has a full video of his speech.
Trump spoke for an hour and forty-three minutes. As everyone had a right to expect, he announced his intention to run for President in 2024. in fact, the CPAC organizers took two key “straw polls” to measure sentiment among attendees. More than two thousand attendees took part. On the question of candidate preference for President, Trump won with 62 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), took 20 percent. On the question of who should run for Vice-President, Kari Lake of Arizona took 20 percent; DeSantis took 14 percent. (Besides having to resign his office before running for either office, DeSantis could not run for Vice-President unless Trump – whom everyone now assumes will win the Presidential nomination – redomiciled himself away from Florida. Kari Lake would not have that problem.)
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves;… U.S. Constitution, Amendment XII
Some say Gov. DeSantis ruined himself by asking security (or police) to evict participants in a Trump rally near him. In any case, he did not attend CPAC 2023.
Revenge – and a purge
Trump made a series of interesting promises that go far beyond the “revenge promises” everyone expected. He definitely vowed revenge, for himself and for the American people:
In 2016, I declared I am your voice. Today I add I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.
Furthermore, he declared that this election would decide whether America could continue to exist:
This is the final battle. They know it. I know it. You know it. Everybody knows that this is it. Either they win, or we win. And if they win, we no longer have a country.
More important than revenge, he vowed to purge the Republican Party of “neoconservative” influence. Neoconservatism sees America, not as a fortress of civilization, but as an empire. He did not mention Bill Kristol’s Project for a New American Century, but he might as well have. Darrell L. Castle, the day before Trump’s speech, scathingly described the neoconservative mind-set and the war danger it poses. On Saturday night, Trump said:
We had a Republican Party that was ruled by freaks, neo-cons, globalists, open-border zealots and fools. We are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.
In that context, Trump also promised a swift end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, presumably by negotiation – and to stop the slide toward World War III.
Trump v. the Democrats
But he reserved most of his fire for the Democrats:
If you put me back in the White House, their reign is over. Their reign will be over. And they know it. And America will be a free nation once again. We’re not a free nation right now. We don’t have a free press. We don’t have free anything.
For seven years, you and I have been engaged in an epic struggle to rescue our country from the people who hate it and want to absolutely destroy it. The sinister forces trying to kill America have done everything they can to stop me, to silence you, and to turn this nation into a socialist dumping ground for criminals, junkies, Marxist thugs and radicals, and dangerous refugees that no other country wants. If those opposing us succeed, our once beautiful USA will be a failed country that no one will even recognize. A lawless, open borders, crime-ridden, filthy, communist nightmare.
Speaking of which, Trump promised to attack crime directly. He would even send the National Guard into the worst crime-ridden cities to keep (or restore) order. He also would “crack down” on prosecuting attorneys who selectively prosecute, and abuse their discretion using racial criteria.
One obvious heckler broke into vulgar song; security swiftly removed him.
Trump concluded thus:
His most sensational promises were not about revenge or any purge. He made two promises that seem to aim squarely at population growth – or decline. Specifically he promised to set aside some of the federal government’s vast landholdings, to build ten new cities. The reportage on this point offers few details – but in his speech he did speak of holding a contest for the best architects and city planners.
More saliently he promised explicit bonuses for having more children, to spark a second baby boom. He has a point. World Population Review shows the United States population slowing its growth; it should level off by century’s end. More to the point, the United States is growing its population by immigration and not by natural increase. Trump wants to boost the natural increase – a policy of which Elon Musk should approve. Musk has publicly sounded an alarm about worldwide population decline. (Natural increase is the amount by which births exceed deaths.)
Trump appears to blame the People’s Republic of China for releasing SARS-CoV-2 upon the world. In fact, the FBI and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory both say the most likely origin of the virus was its release, by accident or by intention, from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Even laying that aside, Trump recognizes that a trade-independent state is a secure one. Accordingly he intends phasing out “imports of essential goods” from China within four years. His goal: total economic independence, at least from China.
Addressing a few canards
Trump explicitly promised to protect the Social Security and Medicare programs, and maintain current benefit levels. Tellingly, Ron DeSantis has spoken of curtailing both to save money. Trump reminded his listeners of that fact.
He also promised to protect the positions of parents against “woke curriculum” in the nation’s schools. Much of what he said, would require action at the local and State, not federal, level. Nevertheless he pledged his support for “school choice,” “patriotic” curricula, and more direct accountability of school principals to parents. He also said he would seek to forbid directly the surgical mutilation or hormonal poisoning of minors.
Concerning elections, as long as early and mail-in voting are lawful, Trump urged his supporters to use those means. But – if Republicans gain full control in 2024, he would press to abolish those practices. He hopes for a future of one-day voting, paper ballots, and reserving mail-in voting for military and elderly infirm voters. No doubt Trump would find the French experience instructive in this regard. France disallowed mail-in ballots in 1975. All voting is in-person and on paper. Furthermore, absentee voting is by proxy – and voter and prospective proxy must pre-register at the local police station. France recently ran an election this way, with results in one day.
Trump also directly attacked the current city government of Washington, D.C. He accused the city government of poor management, even to leaving garbage in the streets. That would stop, he said, because “home rule” in the city would end.
Donald Trump is correct, at least in principle. His provision for “baby bonuses” finds an echo in a recent legislative proposal in Texas, along similar lines.
Childbearing and child-rearing are the engine of civilization, as CNAV has said before. This makes all Trump’s promises to support both, all the more valuable and necessary. The “freedom city” idea needs more elaboration. But the rest of his program is definitely sound.
Furthermore, civilizational states do make themselves independent of the rest of the world. They stand ready to provide their own goods and services no matter who decides to make themselves their enemies. The United States once was a civilizational state. It probably ceased to be such a state with the Spanish-American War, which was America’s first exercise in empire-building. Trump seems to know the need for America to resume that status – and to have a plan to reach it.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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