I was on airplanes all day yesterday—three legs to get home from the east coast because of the heavy snow in Denver—so I missed Trump’s tour de force at CPAC. And while there is a lot of commentary about it today, I perked up at one set of observations in particular—those of Nick Gillespie of Reason.
I know Nick pretty well, and he is an uber-libertarian who dislikes politics and does not much like politicians of any kind, and surely isn’t a fan of many of Trump’s policies. But Nick’s great strength is his feel for pop culture, and insofar as politics today is in very large part a cultural phenomenon, it is worth paying attention when Nick says of Trump’s CPAC speech that “Trump Just Might Have Won the 2020 Election Today.”
It’s way too early to be thinking this, much less saying it, but what the hell: If Donald Trump is able to deliver the sort of performance he gave today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual meeting of right-wingers held near Washington, D.C., his reelection is a foregone conclusion.
There is simply no potential candidate in the Democratic Party who wouldn’t be absolutely blown off the stage by him. I say this as someone who is neither a Trump fanboy nor a Never Trumper. But he was not simply good, he was Prince-at-the-Super-Bowl great, deftly flinging juvenile taunts at everyone who has ever crossed him, tossing red meat to the Republican faithful, and going sotto voce serious to talk about justice being done for working-class Americans screwed over by global corporations. . .
At moments, he seemed to be workshopping his themes and slogans for 2020. “We believe in the American Dream, not the socialist nightmare,” he averred at one point. “Now you have a president who finally standing up for America.” The future, he said “does not belong to those who believe in socialism. The future belongs to those who believe in freedom. I’ve said it before and will say it again: America will never be a socialist country.” That’s a line that may not work forever, but it will almost certainly get the job done in 2020.
Very much worth reading the whole thing.
That’s the arresting headline on Gideon Rachman’s column in the Financial Times on Tuesday.
What’s new: “In the years since ‘Brexit-and-Trump,’ a global populist movement has gathered momentum. The fact that Mr Trump is despised by much of the western establishment and media can obscure this point. But the US president has many admirers, some of them running governments around the world.”
Why it matters: “Past precedent suggests that if a ‘populist era’ takes hold, it might last as long as three decades.”
Wait! What? “[I]t already seems likely that future historians will look upon the events of 2016 as marking the beginning of a new cycle in international history. The bad news for anguished liberals is that these cycles can last quite a long time — 30 years seems to be about average.”