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The Trump effect on a changing conservative movement

Written By | Feb 22, 2021

WASHINGTON. It angers my friends when I tell them I’m no longer a conservative. You see, President Donald Trump radicalized me against the ineffectual, all-talk movement. Remember, the late Rush Limbaugh made a fortune on syndicated TALK radio. It earned him the kind of affluence needed to purchase a seaside Florida mansion not far from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

Rush Limbaugh speaking with attendees at the 2019 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia,

A commercial success but a political failure

In his 1955 mission statement for National Review magazine, William F. Buckley said a conservative “stands athwart history, yelling Stop.” And no conservative yelled stop louder than Limbaugh. (God invites Rush Limbaugh to join Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley Jr.)

President Ronald Reagan meets in 1988 with William F. Buckley in Oval Office. Photo: The White House.

When in 2004 lefties launched an alternative progressive talk-radio network, Air America, it limped along for six years before going belly up. The debacle proved two points: conservatism is a commercial success and political failure. Leftism is a political success and a commercial failure.

Conservatives talk. Leftists act.

The MAGA effect

It was Trump who defeated a well-oiled Clinton political machine in 2016, where all his GOP rivals, from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz, would surely have failed.

Conservatives weren’t all that happy when Trump defeated his GOP primary rivals in 2016, least of all Rush Limbaugh. But Rush understood a big change was in store for the Republican Party. And that change would come from the bottom and work its way to the top.

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. Fox News screen capture.

“Can somebody point to me the conservative on the ballot?” asked Limbaugh of his radio audience in September of 2016. “What do you mean, Rush? Are you admitting Trump is not a conservative? Damn, right I am!
“Folks, when did I ever say that he was? Look, I don’t know how to tell you this. Conservatism lost, in the primary, if that’s how you want to look at it. We had Cruz; we had Rubio.”

In other words, the GOP base shifted from one considered by conventional political observers as “conservative” into a robust America-First incarnation of nationalism. An activist and vocal MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement. And it surprised everyone, including major news organizations who assured their readers/viewers (and themselves) Hillary Clinton would break the glass ceiling to win the White House.

The MAGA movement dashed all their hopes. That is why Democrats devised a ballot-fraud strategy to steal the 2020 election from Trump. It was the only way the frail and dementia-plagued Joe Biden could take the White House. (We know Biden stole the Presidential election, the numbers don;t add up)

A new conservatism

Next Sunday, President Trump will speak before the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida. A source told CNN Trump intends to speak “about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: The White House.

This may explain why Vice President Mike Pence has declined an invitation to attend the event. After all, he was among the governing elites on Capitol Hill that scattered for cover when angry pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the building knowing Pence would certify Biden’s illegitimate claim on the presidency.

If Pence should change his mind and attend CPAC, it’s likely he’ll receive a cool reception from the activist attendees.

That’s because the conservative movement has changed. And that change has come, as stated earlier, from the bottom up.

And that movement is a lot less William F. Buckley and a lot more Joe Sixpack.


Top Image: President Trump speaks at CPAC 2020. Fox News screen capture.


Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.