How the left usurped our language—and the Right let it happen.
Making America Great Again
President Trump's CPAC speech lays out how the country can prosper like never before.
The following speech was transcribed by Samuel Lair, a Hillsdale PhD student and a former intern for the Claremont Institute.
On March 4, 2023, Donald Trump gave one of the most powerful speeches of his political career at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, as he is prone to do, Trump allowed his message to be largely drowned out within a sporadically focused and nearly two-hour long tirade. Interspersed between the tangents and adlibs, however, was the clearest explication of an America First platform yet to be put into words. It could be perhaps the most important speech given by a member of the Right since Pat Buchanan’s “Culture War” speech in 1992. Samuel Lair has transcribed and condensed the essential passages of Trump’s speech—with only a few minor alterations for clarity—in order to capture its vital essence.
As we gather here today, our country and our movement, the greatest political movement in the history of our country, is engaged in the most important battle of our lives. For seven years, you and I have been engaged in an epic struggle to rescue our country from the people who hate it and want to absolutely destroy it. The sinister forces trying to kill America have done everything they can to stop me, to silence you, and to turn this nation into a socialist dumping ground for criminals, junkies, Marxists, thugs, radicals, and dangerous refugees that no other country wants. If those opposing us succeed, our once beautiful USA will be a failed country that no one will even recognize—a lawless, open borders, crime-ridden, filthy, communist nightmare.
I used to say that we would never become a socialist country, but frankly, we are in a Marxist state of mind, a communistic state of mind. We are a nation in decline. Our enemies are desperate to stop us, because they know we’re the only ones who can stop them. They know we can defeat them. They know we will defeat them, but they’re not coming after me. They are coming after you. I am just standing in their way. That’s why I am standing here before you, because we are going to finish what we started. We’re going to complete the mission; we’re going to see this battle through to ultimate victory. We’re going to Make America Great Again. With you by my side, we will demolish the Deep State. We will expel the warmongers. We will drive out the globalists. We will cast out the communists. We will throw off the political class that hates our country. We will beat the Democrats. We will route the fake news media. We will expose and appropriately deal with the RINOs. We will evict Joe Biden from the White House. We will liberate America from these villains and scoundrels once and for all.
When we started this journey, a journey like there has never been before, we had a Republican Party that was ruled by freaks, neocons globalists, open borders zealots, and fools. But we are never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush. We are not going back to people who want to destroy our great Social Security system and cut Medicare to such a level that it will no longer be recognizable. We’re never going back to a party that wants to give unlimited money to fight endless foreign wars and, at the same time, demands that we cut veterans’ benefits and retirement benefits at home. Our soldiers will no longer live on the streets of our cities. We will take care of our soldiers. Illegal immigrants come in, and we house them in the Waldorf Astoria, one of the greatest hotels anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, for our soldiers, we do nothing. They sleep out at night, and they freeze in the cold or die in the heat, while the people who come into our country illegally are in beautiful hotel suites. We were taking care of our soldiers just a short while ago. We don’t do that anymore, but we will start doing so again.
If a wonderful town in Ohio has difficulty, we are going to take care of that town, that city, that village, prior to worrying about the rest of the world. We’re never again going to be a country ruled by entrenched political dynasties in both parties, rotten special interests, China-loving politicians, of which there are many, and a militant left-wing news media that is either frightened of telling the truth or is truly evil. We are not going back to this mindset. Not now, not ever.
In 2016, we took away the power of this corrupt political class, and we did more in four years than any administration in the history of our country. We shut down the illegal foreign invasion at our borders and achieved the most secure border in U.S. history. We deported illegal criminal aliens by the tens of thousands. I smashed the false idols of the free-trade fanatics and left the China lobby reeling from the historic tariffs and taxes we charged them, bringing in hundreds of billions of dollars pouring into our treasury from China.
I was the only president in modern history who did not have any new wars. I finished them. I finished all of them. Remember when the Democrats and my Republican opponents would often look at me during the debates and say, “He’s going to start World War III, it’s in his personality type.” No, I had the personality type that kept us out of wars, because people knew they weren’t going to mess around with us. That’s why I rebuilt our military. We were strong. We were safe. And I told delinquent foreign nations that if they wanted our protection, they had to pay up, and they had to pay up now. And they did. We truly had a policy of peace through strength. This was a serious, powerful policy. And we didn’t have to lose our loved ones fighting wars in countries that no one has ever heard of.
I stood firm against the forces of anarchy and decay. I arrested the Marxists who toppled statues of our great heroes in Washington, D.C. They were knocking down the most beautiful artwork, the most beautiful statues of our great heroes. They were headed to the Jefferson Memorial; they wanted to take out Thomas Jefferson. I don’t think so. I don’t think we’re going to let that happen. So, I passed and signed an executive order that anyone who does that will get ten years in jail with no negotiation. And as soon as we passed it, that was the end. Not only that, but we also banned transgender insanity from our military, and we signed the world’s first ban on Critical Race Theory long before anybody had even heard of the term.
There’s only one president in history who has ever taken on the entire corrupt establishment in Washington. When we win in 2024, we will do it again even stronger, faster, and better, because now I am experienced. I know the people of Washington. The good ones, the bad ones, the weak ones, the strong ones. I know them all. I know the people who have to do the job and can do the job. I will put America first every single time, every single day. From the beginning, we have been attacked by a sick and sinister opposition. The radical Left communists, the bureaucrats, the fake news media, the big money special interests, the corrupt Democrat prosecutors who are racist and hate our country, the partisan and often corrupt intelligence agencies, and the George Soros money machine that spends a lot of money on the prosecutors who allowed Antifa thugs to roam the streets while we have people, great patriots, saying prayers every night and playing our national anthem every day, sitting in a jail nearby, rotting away and being treated so unfairly, like nobody has probably ever been treated in this country before.
Our enemies are lunatics and maniacs. They cannot stand that they do not own me. I don’t need them. I don’t need anything about them. I don’t need their money. They cannot steer me, they cannot shake me, they will never control me, and they will never ever, therefore, control you. At the end of the day, anyone else will be intimidated, bought off, blackmailed, or ripped to shreds. I alone will never retreat, and that is why we must stand together and charge full speed ahead. We have no choice. If we don’t do this our country will be lost forever. People are tired of RINOs and globalists. They want to see America First. This is the final battle, they know it, I know it, you know, everybody knows it. Either they win, or we win. And if they win, we will no longer have a country. But I promise you this, if you put me back in the White House, their reign will be over. America will be a free nation once again. In 2016, I declared, I am your voice. Today, I add that I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.
I will totally obliterate the Deep State. I will fire the unelected bureaucrats and shadow forces who have weaponized our justice system like it has never been weaponized before. I will put the people back in charge of this country again. The people will be back in charge of our country. Our opponents are doing anything they can to hurt me politically, because they are afraid of me, and they are afraid of you. They know that when we return to power, we will bring their lies and corruption and disinformation tumbling down. Our getting back into the White House is their worst nightmare. But it’s our country’s only hope.
In recent weeks, I have been laying out a bold, detailed agenda for how we are going to complete this mission in our next term. Today, I want to go through some of our big plans that I will pursue as the 47th President of the United States. At the top of my list, we will stop never-ending wars. I was the only president in decades who didn’t have a war. But I completed wars that were already started, including defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. I was the only president where Russia didn’t take over a country during my term. I said Vladimir, you and I are friends, don’t take over any countries, or Moscow will be hit hard. He probably didn’t believe it. But he believed that 10%. And President Xi believed that when I talked about Beijing. He probably thought, “I don’t believe him, but there’s a 10% chance. You never know.” But with Bush, they invaded Georgia. With Obama, they took Crimea. With Biden, they are trying to take everything. And with me, they took nothing. They understood me very well, and they knew they couldn’t do it. Putin knew it. President Xi knew it too. Likewise, China has its eyes strongly focused on Taiwan, and we could also have a nuclear-armed Iran. This is the most dangerous time in our country’s history, and Joe Biden is leading us into oblivion.
Under my leadership, we will defend our borders. Three years ago, we had the safest border in the history of our country, and I will gladly do that again. As you know, I built hundreds of miles of wall, and I’ve completed that task as promised. Congress wouldn’t give it to me, so I took it right out of the military, because I considered it an invasion. And then I began to add even more in areas that seemed to be allowing a lot of people to come in, so we were going to do another 200 miles of wall. And it could have been done and completed in three weeks, but the Biden Administration said they weren’t going to do it. Under my leadership, we will seal it up and expand that wall.
Before Biden came into office, we had immigration at a record low. Refugees were at their lowest in history. Human trafficking was at its lowest in 30 years, and drug dealers were finding the U.S. border to be a very inhospitable place to be. In my last year, less drugs came through the southern border than had been seen in many, many decades. We were not playing games. Now we have complete chaos. Fentanyl is pouring in, and families are being wiped out and destroyed. There is death everywhere caused by incompetence. Millions of illegal aliens are stampeding across our border. Interior enforcement has been shut down. Everyone is overstaying their visas, and no one even thinks about reporting it anymore. Refugee numbers are through the roof. And spies and terrorists are infiltrating our country, totally unchecked like never before. When I’m back in the White House, the very first reconciliation bill that I will sign will be for a massive increase in border patrol and a colossal increase in the number of ICE deportation offices. Under my leadership, we will use all necessary state, federal, and legal resources to carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history. I will ask every state and federal agency to identify every known or suspected gang member in America and, for every one of them that is here illegally, we will pick them up, and we will throw them out of our country, and there will be no questions asked.
To stop the flow of deadly drugs, it will be my policy to take down the cartels just as I took down the ISIS Caliphate. I will direct the Department of Justice to go after Marxist prosecutors to make them pay for their illegal race-based enforcement of the law. In cities where there’s been a complete breakdown of public safety, I will send in federal assets, including the National Guard, until law and order is restored. All of us have seen too many videos of 13-year-old carjackers and 14-year-old hoodlums viciously beating their victims. They kill people without retribution, because they may be days short of the age requirement needed to put them in jail for a long time. My administration will crack down on these out-of-control monsters, young though they may be, and impose tough consequences on juvenile criminals.
I will end the scourge of homelessness taking over our cities and suburbs. I just drove through Washington, D.C. coming here for the first time in quite a while. It looked like somebody had just took their garbage and threw it all over the highways, the Beltway. It’s so disgraceful. Under my leadership, we will take the homeless, drug-addicted, and severely deranged to get them off the streets and create tent cities where we will get them the help they so desperately need.
On day one, I will revoke Biden’s executive order installing Marxist diversity, equity, and inclusion czars in every federal agency, and I will immediately fire all staffers hired to implement this horrible agenda. I will urge Congress to create a restitution fund for Americans who have been unjustly discriminated against by these Biden policies that are so unfair and so un-American. And we will ban all racial discrimination by the government. I will fight for parents’ rights, including universal school choice and the direct election of school principals by the parents. If any principal is not getting the job done, the parents should be able to fire the principal immediately and select someone new. Continuing the work of our 1776 Commission, we will teach our values and promote our history and traditions to our children. We will, in other words, be proud of our country again.
I will revoke every Biden policy promoting the chemical castration and sexual mutilation of our youth and ask Congress to send me a bill prohibiting child sexual mutilation in all 50 states, and we will keep men out of women’s sports. That will take place from day one. I will destroy the illegal censorship regime and bring back free speech in America. I will stop Joe Biden’s massive demolition of our economy. We will take care of inflation very quickly, and I will create a true national trade policy like the kind that made America the world’s economic powerhouse. I will tell foreign nations where we spend billions of dollars on military protection that if American products do not receive preferential treatment in their markets, our military is packing up and leaving.
Because economic security is national security, I will revoke China’s most favored nation’s trade status. I will have a four-year plan to phase out all Chinese imports of essential goods and gain total independence from China. We have to do it. I will hold China financially accountable for unleashing the China virus upon the world. I will withdraw from the WHO, which stands for We Hide Outbreaks. The United States was paying the World Health Organization $450 million a year for 350 million people. On the other hand, China was paying $39 million a year for 1.4 billion people. Doesn’t sound too right.
I will fight for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress. And I will move heaven and earth to fully and finally secure our elections with paper ballots, one-day voting, and voter IDs. But until that day comes, Republicans must compete using every lawful means to win. That means swamping the Left with mail-in votes, early votes, and election-day votes. We have to do it. We have to change our thinking. Where we can’t get rid of drop boxes, we will put them in every church. Until we can eliminate ballot harvesting, we will become masters at ballot harvesting. We have no choice but to beat the Democrats at their own game, and we will do it legally.
The agenda I have laid out today will end America’s destruction, but it is not enough just to stop the forces tearing America down. I want once again to build America up. I’d like to get back to building our country and making our country great again. It is time to start talking about greatness for our country. Our objective will be a quantum leap in the American standard of living, especially for young people. As I announced yesterday, we will hold a competition to build new freedom cities along the frontier and to give countless Americans a new shot at home ownership and the American dream. It is a wonderful and beautiful thing. I will challenge the governors of all 50 states to join me in a great beautification campaign. We will rename our schools and boulevards not after communists but after great American patriots. We will get rid of bad and ugly buildings and return to the magnificent classical style of Western civilization. We will support baby boomers, and we will support baby bonuses for a new baby boom. Our country will shine, thrive, and prosper like never before.
All of this is within our reach but only if we have the courage to complete the job, gut the Deep State, reclaim our democracy, and banish the tyrants and Marxists into political exile forever. They are bad for us and want us to fail. They want our country to go down. They are sick people. 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.
This is the turning point and the time for that decision. Because, as you have probably heard me say before, we will not back down. We will not bend. We will not quit. We will not yield. We will press forward with push. We will press forward with vigor. We will push onward, and we will finish what we started. We started a great positive revolution. Nobody has ever seen anything like it before. It’s called Make America Great Again. We want to Make America Great Again. We will cross the finish line. We will dismantle the deep state. We will demolish woke tyranny, and we will restore the American Republic to all of its radiant glory. And with God’s help, and your support, we will make America powerful again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will Make America Great Again.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.