These are only the opening days of what is supposedly the post-Trump era, and whether the country has really seen the last politically of Donald Trump is a matter that depends upon Donald Trump. The principal Trump-hate outlets are still pleased to refer to him as “the disgraced former president” but, of course, he has not been disgraced and there is no indication that he will be.
All of the Democrats and about a third of Republican officeholders are engaged in an elaborate and strictly observed pretense that Trump was a freakish and horrifying interruption of the normal, serene, bipartisan devolution of events in Washington. Like a dreadful meteor, he came and he went, pushed into the instantly forgotten past by a united effort of civilized Americans.
When Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis takes the stage to deliver a welcoming address at the Conservative Political Action Conference on his home field in Orlando Friday, it will be as a fast-rising force in the conservative movement and an increasingly plausible and popular contender for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024.
DeSantis will be followed in the spotlight on the first full day of CPAC 2021 by a succession of marquee GOP names vying to woo the party’s conservative base at the movement’s signature annual gathering of the tribes. Among them will be potential 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls and aspiring heirs to the leadership of their party’s populist conservative wing, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley, of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, respectively.