Conservatives are crowning Trump their king. Is it too late for a checkmate? | Opinion

No matter what Donald Trump does, some conservatives keep applauding him. For evidence, look no further than his schedule.

Donald Trump is speaking Saturday night at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, a group that historically drew young people for workshops and speeches centered around bolstering the conservative movement. Trump has spoken at CPAC several times, even last year, as his legal troubles mounted. Now, attendees are crowning him king, so to speak. Even though CPAC doesn’t hold the power and sway it used to, the fact that it’s turned into nothing but a Trump Fest — even Nikki Haley isn’t there — while making less news than ever means something.

For four days now, CPAC has been nothing but Trump-centric. The speaker roster includes conservative media personalities who adore Trump, possible running mates such as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, politicians who continue to back him like Rep. Matt Gaetz and of course, Texas’ own attorney general, Ken Paxton. Failed presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who spent presidential debates slamming Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis spoke Friday night.

It doesn’t matter that CPAC closes on the heels of the South Carolina primary, Haley’s home state and her last chance to show she’s actually a contender for the GOP nomination. Republicans have already decided who will represent them, and it’s disappointing. They decided long ago, against any and all evidence that demonstrates Trump isn’t even a good person, let alone a strong presidential candidate.

Trump’s drowning in legal challenges, but it doesn’t seem to matter. So far, he faces 91 felony charges across four states. The first criminal trial is supposed to start in about a month, the first of its kind involving a former U.S. president, but no matter. A civil jury found Trump liable for a sexual assault in May, but this doesn’t matter, either. The Republican Party will nominate Trump officially over the summer and excuse his indiscretions.

Just about a week ago, Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump to pay more than $354 million in damages in a civil business fraud trial and barred him from doing business in New York for three years. But no matter. GOP voters will invite him to CPAC on a red carpet and applaud his candidacy, suggesting that the decision was biased, even unjust, and that all the courts in America who have ruled against him in some way or found no credible evidence of election fraud are rigged and stacked against him in some kind of massive, planned conspiracy.

It doesn’t matter that Trump has spent the last three years re-living Jan. 6 and pouting online like an adolescent whose mother took his video games away, spewing nonsense and smears at viable Republican candidates such as Ron DeSantis and Haley. In fact, those candidates were written off from the get-go, without even being given a chance or a boost from leaders inside the Republican Party. It’s “Donald Trump or Bust” and now he must beat President Joe Biden at all costs or America will re-live, like “Groundhog Day,” the last four years over the next five years, when Trump might even run yet again. Some conservatives, like myself, would rather live through a Zombie apocalypse.

Trump’s speech at CPAC won’t matter. Heck, even CPAC — an organization once thriving with exciting people, new ideas, and a fresh approach to conservatism, with an emphasis on the next generation — doesn’t matter much anymore.

In 2011, on the eve of the conference, I wrote a piece for The Atlantic with this headline: “CPAC Begins, but Does It Still Matter?” That question is still valid and we know the answer: It doesn’t matter much, but this election does. Who the Republican Party crowns its king does, and right now, it’s too late for a checkmate. Trump’s already won the party, and that is an absolute shame.

Do you have an opinion on this topic? Tell us!

We love to hear from Texans with opinions on the news — and to publish those views in the Opinion section.

• Letters should be no more than 150 words.

• Writers should submit letters only once every 30 days.

• Include your name, address (including city of residence), phone number and email address, so we can contact you if we have questions.

You can submit a letter to the editor two ways:

• Email (preferred).

• Fill out this online form.

Please note: Letters will be edited for style and clarity. Publication is not guaranteed. The best letters are focused on one topic.