4 lessons from CPAC

What the conference showed about the state of the Republican Party

Trump at CPAC
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump provided the headliner speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) over the weekend. He painted a gloomy picture of the United States with a Democrat, President Biden, in the White House, and portrayed himself as the only person who can save the Republican Party and the nation. Trump's former United Nations ambassador and current GOP rival, Nikki Haley, got chased into an elevator by Trump supporters after saying in her non-prime-time speech that the GOP needed a new generation of leaders, in a veiled criticism of the former president.

Other Republicans used their time at the podium to call for eradicating transgender rights and stripping Big Tech of the legal immunity social media companies have under Section 230, the protection from liability for what users post that is currently being challenged at the Supreme Court. Far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) said in her speech that the liability shield is letting tech executives censor conservative voices, "acting like editors rather than publishers." But some of the GOP's heaviest hitters — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and likely presidential contenders former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — didn't show up at the sparsely attended conference. Here are four lessons from this year's event:

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Harold Maass, The Week US

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at The Week. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 debut of the U.S. print edition and served as editor of TheWeek.com when it launched in 2008. Harold started his career as a newspaper reporter in South Florida and Haiti. He has previously worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, ABC News and Fox News, and for several years wrote a daily roundup of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance.