Make America Great Again (MAGA) is synonymous with Trump, not the Conservative Party. Perhaps the party itself has changed in public perception to fit the humongous, infamous appeal that Trump holds ahead of the white supremacists in the US.
“Change only happens if we plow fearlessly ahead and declare with one voice that the era of woke and weaponized government is over. That is our task, that is our mission. And this is the turning point and the time for that decision” — announcing to his favorite crowd, the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump was hinting at the right wing’s best bet at a crawl-back: anti-wokeism. The support that Trump now holds isn’t as grand in magnitude as it was before. But the few that stick to his tactics and ‘raw honesty’ are the kind of groups that you’d find difficult to counsel and convince. They are loyal, they’re anti-partisan and pro-Trump. Trump’s best bet then, is this small fraction of Americans. But Trump’s biggest failing is his words. It's sad that he hasn't realized it yet. But most autocrats — and those like Trump — often mistake their speeches for good rhetoric. Why do they do this? Because they have a loyal group backing every little pin dropped from their leader's wallet.
Hold That Thought — Or Maybe Not
Donald Trump does not mince his words. Referring to Conservative leaders who came before him, he threw around adjectives that were far from subtle: "freaks, neocons, globalists, open borders zealots, and fools." Trump vowed to never go back to the era of these politicians who, according to his logic, have been very un-Conservative. Or to be more precise, were never subscribers to his strain of Conservative politics which is more dependent on the individual than an ideology. Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush do not appeal to his political sense. For CPAC, this bashing of Conservatives is precisely what works best.
The New York Times covered a set of false claims that Trump ended up making at the CPAC this year. But do these really matter to the crowd? No.
Does it matter that he has overestimated the worth of equipment seized by the Taliban? Does it matter that he's overstating the rate of homicide in America? Does it matter that he's accusing wind energy of being an overhyped channel and responsible for bird deaths? No, these do not matter to the crowd that assembled at CPAC. They were silent, even perhaps yawning, as all other speaker gave out their 'dry' drafts of well-worded speeches. But when Trump's arrival was announced, excitement filled the air. These people are not fact-checkers. They believe in a pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-DEI way of life. For them, the question is: why are we learning about diversity and inclusion in schools when most parents have not even demanded this? It doesn't matter if research shows the importance of inculcating accommodative, empathetic skills in young kids.
The MAGA Lot
In a survey that Reuters conducted last year, Trump supporters defined what MAGA meant to them. Of the reasons they gave, 26% of the respondents felt MAGA stood for Trump. This isn't a meager number.
With Trump as its face, the MAGA cause gets an accelerated standing amongst Conservative supporters. But it can thrive without his presence too — maybe not with the grandeur and volume it now does. In Tennessee, they ended up supporting Ron DeSantis more than Trump. What it then takes to emerge as the MAGA's savior is an aura of brutal, uncensored, problematic-ism. The extreme right crowd is extreme in their thought and will leave no stone unturned to safeguard a true American identity. That the American identity it envisions is an amalgamation of cultures and a construct, at its best, does not quite strike this set of people.
Problematic-ism. This best defines the MAGA lot. Their love for an anti-woke wave is humongous and explains why some like Vivek Ramaswamy, riding on reputations like the 'CEO of Anti-Woke, Inc.', offer to reinstate the position of merit in the lives of Americans. Promises of a better economy (regardless of whether you actually have a blueprint or not) and security can be quadrupled in worth if you announce that your candidature is in favor of tradition — of conservatism that does not compromise.
Words are what define the Conservative candidature more than that of the Democrats. For so long, Trump has held that grasp over baffling thoughts — but he can be dethroned by a bigger manchild if the Conservatives have luck as a friend.