Op-Ed: Nationalism Is on the Rise and We Should Not Apologize for Putting America First

With the Conservative Political Action Conference, or Conservative Coachella as I like to call it, just wrapping up over the weekend in Orlando, Florida, two things are very clear: There is a new Republican Party led by populists, and Donald J. Trump may very well be the GOP presidential nominee in 2024, whether you like it or not.

The conference dubbed “America Uncanceled” kicked off with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who touted how Florida has been an “oasis of freedom” and open for business, in stark contrast to Democratic states under oppressive lockdowns.

The state of the country’s economy related to the pandemic and the need for conservatives in America was of much focus on Saturday for a rising Republican star, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

“COVID didn’t crush the economy; government crushed the economy,” she said. Noem pressed for a limited government of and by the people. Some may recall that South Dakota never issued a shelter-in-place order, mask mandate or definition of which businesses were “essential.” Noem simply doesn’t think that is the place of government to “[trample] on people’s rights.”

The lineup of speakers throughout the weekend was filled with the likes of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, to name just a few.

The America-first agenda was on full display in just about every session, highlighting the importance of self-governance, the need to protect free speech, the battle against Silicon Valley, securing our country’s borders, the threat of China and preserving our Constitution.

Sunday was the day we had all been waiting for, with remarks by former President Donald Trump. As Trump made his way to the stage he was greeted by a standing ovation and chants of “U.S.A.!” One of the first things out of the former president’s mouth was, “Do you miss me yet?” Classic Trump.

It’s hard to believe it was only six weeks ago Trump left office. He went through his laundry list of accomplishments over the last four years, spearheaded by the America-first agenda, and the destruction the Biden administration has made in such a short amount of time.

When speaking about the future of the movement, Trump made it be known he did not have plans to start a third party. Many believed he had planned to lead a “Patriot Party,” but instead it seems he will be building upon what is already set in place and take over.

Trump said the party needs “tough, strong and energetic Republican leaders who have spines of steel” and then the 45th president name-checked the RINOs and establishment elites in Congress who turned their backs on him. “Get rid of them all” he said, calling for those Republicans to be primaried.

There is a civil war going on in the party. As much as the GOP doesn’t want to admit, there is — it’s the populists vs. the establishment. Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley were all absent from CPAC this year, and that says a lot. I doubt even if they had attended the crowd would have been courteous.

Though there will not be a third party, this weekend proved the Republican Party is the party of the new renegades, the misfits, fighting against the establishment and questioning authority. Outspoken congressmen like Matt Gaetz and Josh Hawley are proof the GOP is changing.

I consider myself a part of the populist right, and like many others, we are sick and tired of these establishment elites whose only interest is themselves and not fighting for the people who voted them into office.

After speaking for about an hour and a half, the former president wrapped up his remarks by saying together in the coming years, “We will take back the House. We will win the Senate. And then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be?

“I am supremely confident that for our movement, for our party and for our country, our brightest days are just ahead.”

Trump’s right: Nationalism is on the rise, and I for one will never apologize for loving America and putting our interests first.

Donald Trump is still the leader of the Republican Party, and even if he doesn’t decide to run again, whoever wants to win the GOP presidential nomination will have to be Trump-approved.

The America-first movement isn’t going anywhere; if anything it’s just getting stronger day by day. So keep up that MAGA energy — it’s going to be an interesting three years.

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This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.