Anyone who doubts that Trumpism remains the dominant ideology of the Republican Party need only watch the speeches from the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference, which concluded in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, February 28. From Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to former President Donald Trump himself, the event seldom strayed from its Culture War theme. The Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial board analyzes the event in an editorial published on March 1, warning that if Trumpist "grievance" is going to be Republicans' main focus in the months ahead, the GOP is in trouble.
"The CPAC crowd cheered (Trump's) speech, which was largely a collection of greatest political hits," the WSJ's editorial board observes. "But if CPAC represented America, Mr. Trump would still reside in the White House, not Mar-a-Lago. He lost to Joe Biden, the old Democratic war horse, by 7 million votes. He also lost five states he carried in 2016, even Georgia. That's the cold GOP reality as the former president seeks to dominate the party from exile and tease a 2024 comeback."
During his CPAC 2021 speech, the WSJ's editorial board notes, Trump "laid out his political enemies list and is clearly bent on revenge against anyone who voted to impeach or convict him or disagrees with his election claims" — and those "intra-party fights" will "sap GOP energy and resources when their priority now should be retaking Congress in 2022."
"Republicans lost the House in 2018 as suburban voters fled to check Mr. Trump," the WSJ editorial board points out. "He proceeded to lose the White House on November 3, and he cost the GOP two Georgia Senate races on January 5 as he made his claims of election fraud the main issue rather than checking Mr. Biden and Nancy Pelosi. Mr. Trump essentially told his Georgia supporters their votes didn't matter, and many stayed home. The GOP lost the Senate."
The WSJ wraps up its editorial by stressing that Trumpist "grievances" are not a winning formula for the Republican Party in 2022 or 2024.
"Mr. Trump's base of support means he will play an important role in the GOP," the WSJ editorial board writes. "But as the Biden months roll on and the policy consequences of the 2020 defeat become stark, perhaps the Party's grassroots will begin to look past the Trump era to a new generation of potential standard-bearers. As long as Republicans focus on the grievances of the Trump past, they won't be a governing majority."