Trumpism grips a post-policy GOP as conservatism fades

“We can sit around and have academic debates about conservative policy, we can do that,” Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said to an ovation in his CPAC remarks. “But the question is, when the klieg lights get hot, when the left comes after you: Will you stay strong, or will you fold?”

This is the party Mr. Trump has remade — and it’s why so many traditional Republicans are appalled, or at least alarmed, that Trumpism is replacing conservatism…

Beyond the former president, no two Republicans in attendance drew a more fervent response than Mr. DeSantis and Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, two former House members turned first-term governors.

Neither sketched out a new policy agenda or presented a fresh vision for a party that has won the national popular vote just once in over 30 years. Rather, they drew repeated ovations for what they share in common: a shared sense of victimhood over media criticism for their handling of the coronavirus crisis and a pugnacious contempt for public health experts who have urged more aggressive restrictions in their states.