CPAC: The Latest Attack On Democracy


Owen Harker, Staff Writer

The Conservative Political Action Conference took place in Orlando, Florida from February 25th to 28th, 2021 and left me with one key takeaway: Trump is still leading the GOP and is still a very dangerous threat to our democracy.

The conference featured an array of conservative politicians from Josh Hawley to Ted Cruz to former President Trump. Throughout the conference, speakers showed their loyalty to Donald Trump and frequently spoke about unity.

However, it was evident that the GOP is as divided as ever based on the people who came to CPAC and the messages expressed. Although CPAC expressed pro-Trump ideals with a golden Trump statue at the conference, many Republicans voted to impeach him in the most bipartisan impeachment in history. 

While the GOP was once the party of Abraham Lincoln, it has become the party of Trump and the America First movement. One of the key speeches of CPAC was from Ted Cruz, which felt more like a conservative attempting stand-up comedy.

Now that Ted Cruz is facing serious issues, the senator might actually be better suited to be a bad stand-up comedian. He cracked insensitive jokes like, “Orlando is awesome, it’s not as nice as Cancun,” all while people in his home state of Texas struggled with no electricity.

He also attacked mask-wearing, making a joke about how you have to wear it when you stand up but when you sit down for dinner you can take it off. He ended his speech by saying, “Let me tell you this right now, Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere.” 

There were other well-known speakers touting controversial thoughts during CPAC. Josh Hawley defended voting against the electoral college certification, with the crowd roaring for him as he defended his decision. Another controversial speech came from South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem, who attacked beloved Dr. Fauci for overestimating the extent of COVID in South Dakota (the state rates 8th worst in deaths per capita). 

Perhaps the most controversial, though, was the keynote speech from former President Donald Trump. 

Mr. Trump used his time to make personal attacks on major GOP members, saying, “The Democrats don’t have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey…and of course the warmonger, a person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that? The good news is in her state, she’s been censured. And in her state, her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I’ve ever seen. So hopefully, they’ll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of them all.”

Trump attacked Democrats for being too radical and touted his own accomplishments, saying the detained children in camps are getting a better education than US kids during COVID. He also added that only he would be able to get a vaccine completed so quickly and that it would have taken any other administration 5 years. He shamed the Supreme Court Justices that he appointed for not voting for fraud. 

He is caught up in conspiracy and lies. In fact, it is clear that Donald Trump is still convinced of his 2020 presidential victory, adding, “But who knows? Who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time, OK? For a third time”, implying that he already won twice.

All of these statements pose a great danger to our democracy. These types of statements lead to events like the January 6th insurrection. Our democracy is so fragile right now and these statements exploit that fragility. 

As a moderate, I try to see both sides of the argument, and right now the state of the GOP is disjointed and it is in disarray. There is no clear direction and it is filled with conspiracy. I have identified with many Republicans in the past like Ronald Reagan and John McCain and these leaders would be in shock as a result of the GOP right now.