It was a wild CPAC this year. Controversies arose even before it began. Arguments broke out between conservatives on one side of the Trump camp and conservatives on the other side of the Trump camp. In the end, it was a standard event with right-leaning political enthusiasts coming together to exchange ideas and promote their agendas.
The big event was Saturday’s speech by President Trump and he didn’t disappoint. He got the crowd riled up with his longest public speech since becoming President. Leftists raged over his colorful language and attacks on Robert Mueller. Conservatives cheered as he attacked socialism and the hyper-leftists who are pushing it. But there was one portion of the speech that I believe highlighted both the best and worst parts of President Trump. He said he was going “off script” in his speech and said he needed to go off script with his policies.
No. He shouldn’t.
If anyone needs a script, it’s President Trump. While some would rightly argue that he’s best on the campaign trail when not reading from a teleprompter, by no means should his policies continue shifting away from the ideas that preceded his rise in politics. Those ideas, the conservative principles that were once the hallmark of the Republican Party, need to make a comeback as quickly as possible.
There’s one caveat to this. If he was referring specifically to the Republican campaign scripts, then there’s nothing to worry about. He’s correct in that regard. Republicans have been unable to put together a compelling message to retain power since 1984. They work well in opposition; their 2010-2016 successes can be directly attributed to being against Obamacare. But when it comes to the rest of their scripts, those have failed.
The problems arise if the President is planning to continue to go off script on the conservative agenda. We’ve seen many instances of this in the last two years, from failing to make the border wall an issue until it was too late to making a snap decision, totally off script, to declare he was pulling all forces out of Syria. Whether you agree with the move or not (I happen to agree we need a systematic withdrawal from Syria), the way in which he announced it (via Twitter) and the reason he announced it (to appease Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) were completely wrong.
Had the GOP been following the conservative script, there would have been zero budgets passed in 2017 or 2018 without wall funding. We wouldn’t be messing with tariffs, opting instead to embrace the free market economy and remove regulations to the degree that companies won’t be beholden to China or other nations. We wouldn’t have the criminal justice reform law, the bump stock ban, or any taxpayer dollars going to Planned Parenthood.
These are the parts of the conservative script that needed to be followed, but they weren’t. If he’s talking about going further away from THAT script, then we’re in for a long year and half before Washington essentially shuts down for the general election season.
It’s one thing to appreciate the President’s “straight talk” nature. It’s another thing to believe he’s capable of shooting from the hip on his policies and still find success. Things would be much better if he’d stick to a conservative script in his agenda.