To his legion of obsessed enemies, it is a fortunate thing that Donald Trump owns his own Elba, otherwise known as Mar-A-Lago. Not quite an island, but a place where America’s Bonaparte can be safely exiled, secluded, and sealed-off from the general populace. Carefully watched and heavily guarded, they imagine he too is approaching madness; angrily stalking the grounds, bitterly rehashing his humiliating defeat. In his gilded quarantine, the nation is for the moment safe from that highly contagious and genuinely dangerous virus that threatens to infect more and more of the country: MAGA-1.
The luxuriously incarcerated ex-president presently consults with a small number of carefully screened visitors, so in between rounds of golf (did Napoleon even know his handicap?) he meets with former allies, quietly weighing his options for a possible escape from the confines of the resort and return to active political life. All the while, the guardians of his moral imprisonment keep a wary eye on his goings on; designing new obstacles to any suspected flight from captivity or, alternatively, plotting to make his post-presidency as miserable as his plush surroundings permit.
If anti-Trumpers in both parties get their wish, a marooned and isolated Trump’s claims to future political stewardship will capsize in a sea of what ifs and might have beens; sunk by a wave of mutual insults, finger pointing and recriminations. Accusations of disloyalty and fraud will necessarily fly in all directions. In short, they pray for the typical nasty and personal free for all that Trump has always seemed to take delight in overseeing; the many likes of which over the course of his single term probably served to exhaust and repel very many voters who would otherwise have looked favorably upon his competent executive performance.
But will he oblige and play to type? We’ll soon see.
The bedsheets are tied snugly together and on Sunday, February 28, Trump will dodge the searchlights and descend the compound wall. Loyalists are waiting outside to whisk him to Orlando, where he’ll address the annual CPAC Conference. The audience will be suitably adoring; readily receptive to the menu of ideas Mr. Trump decides to place before them. He’s too good a natural leader not to grasp that this appearance is one of the most important, if not the most important, of his political life. The ground he chooses to stand upon, and the general attitude he strikes, will have a profound effect on not just himself, but on American politics, and even his successor’s future endeavors for the next few years.
Who will stand at the podium Sunday night? Will it be Trump the reputed solipsist; viewing every occurrence we’ve lived through during this unsettling time primarily through the lens of its effects upon him? Will he dwell upon the unfairness and hypocrisy with which he was surely treated in the aftermath of his unexpected election? Will he rail against the Deep State, and how he proved that it truly did exist, and how much wider and more insidious it turned out to be? And how much time will he devote to the much-derided STOLEN ELECTION meme that grew out of the highly suspicious events of the preceding contest? (And this is asked by someone who firmly believes the election may well indeed have been stolen.)
If this is the guy who shows up at CPAC, merely playing to the resentments of a crowd filled with justifiable anger at how its leader was so shabbily treated, and how its beliefs are constantly mocked and mischaracterized, he’ll be confirming his bitterest opponents’ assessment of him, and will in fact, be doing their work in marginalizing conservatism. He’ll hand them a victory more resounding than Biden’s November win.
But if he speaks in the voice of the leader of a movement that’s bigger than everyone in the room, including himself, then he’ll ensure that this vital fight will continue in the proper terms and in its legitimate context: on the issues, as a patriotic struggle for the principles upon which this nation should stand. Not as a vindication of one man, however much he’s been genuinely wronged.
The ideological captivity and moral blindness that motivates Biden and his cohorts to damage our nation by their comprehensive, almost suicidal reversal of sensible Trump administration policies, must take center stage. Not the vindictive and petty personal animus that accompanies their actions.
Donald Trump’s great service to the people of the United States, is that he recognized the crucial fights that desperately needed to be fought, and possessed the courage to prosecute them. They are, among others: open borders, unfair trade, the sacrifice of American workers to some nebulous Globalist ideal, and perhaps most importantly, Communist Chinese infiltration and corruption of our society and many of its institutions. His demanding, shall we say unorthodox manner and comportment, worked to hold a mirror before the various facets of the Washington establishment. All types of government agencies, congress, courts, private law firms, lobbyists, and the media that covers them, all faced that mirror, illuminating the rot, self-dealing, and corruption that have long afflicted them. That’s why they were so intent on banding together to turn him out.
At so many of his pre-election rallies, Mr. Trump stated that he was truly humbled by the raucous, emotional support he received. Further, he declared that he was merely a conduit; someone to give voice to the unease his audience felt about the direction the nation was taking. That was the reason, he explained, why he ran for president.
Was this false modesty, as his opponents maintain, shoveled out by a supreme egotist seeking mostly adulation and glory? Or is he truly the patriot his fervent supporters believed him to be, who sacrificed a good part of his fortune, and perhaps also much of his freedom of movement, to serve a nation he loves above all?
This weekend, the mirror will be turned back at him. The leader of the MAGA movement will be forced to take a good look, and decide the terms by which he intends to proceed forward. Will he see only himself, thirsting to avenge a loss that he hasn’t yet conceded? Or will he see the uncompleted work he began, now threatened by those who hate him more than they wish the country well? Can that work be completed by Mr. Trump once again offering himself as a candidate, or must he consider handing it off to a new generation of young leaders committed to winning the fights he began? Is Trumpism designed only for Trump, or can others play? We’ll know a lot more very soon.