Charlie Kirk's recent rhetoric is very telling.
I have long talked about what made Donald Trump's 2016 Presidential Campaign very special, and what differentiated his campaign from those of Cruz, Rubio, and Jeb! back then. It is true that his presidency did not fully encapsulate the populist magic that caused a massive realignment to take place, but he did keep enough promises for much of rural America to put up massive margins in his column in 2020. Trump talked a big game on issues that have rarely been touched by past Republicans, such as noninterventionism, trade protectionism, immigration restrictionism, and cultural/economic nationalism. This movement of National Populism and anger at the establishment that he spearheaded led him to victory in the Republican Primaries, and eventually led him to sweep the battleground states. It also helped him win "lean/likely blue" states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that have not been won by a Republican Presidential Candidate for nearly 30 years prior. He even came within 1.52% of flipping the state of Minnesota, which had not gone for a Republican nominee since 1972, during Richard Nixon's 49-state landslide. He attacked big business and career politicians and their unwillingness to fix problems that affected everyday Americans, and he was very effective in doing so. This expanded the map, and caused a realignment to occur. White working class citizens, and to a lesser extent Hispanics, moved to the right, whereas college educated whites began to move to the left.
Trump's original movement had a lot of people from the Republican Establishment worried at first, and many individuals in the GOP tried to stop his campaign. They called him every name in the book that the left routinely calls him now. Once these individuals realized Trump was an unstoppable force in the party, a significant number of them decided to jump ship. However, an even larger number of them decided to half-heartedly support him after the election, and then claimed to be his biggest supporters. Many of them hijacked his movement in part, ignoring the anti-corporatist sentiment, immigration restrictionism, and instead focusing on issues like the boogeyman of "socialism" and "big government." Don't get me wrong, I do not like socialism, but strictly opposing socialism is not what Trump's movement was about. In fact, he did support a government plan for healthcare, talked about getting money out of politics, and courted Bernie Sanders supporters disaffected by Hillary's elitism to his side back in 2016. All of those things made his movement back then stronger, and the GOP Establishment fails to realize this.
Nobody really embodies the fair-weather Trump adopter and co-opter better than Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk. Kirk came under fire in late 2019 when he was caught on tape saying that he believes green cards should be stapled to diplomas and that he would be okay with 50 million immigrants coming into America over a 10 year period (so long as it's legal) because we have "a bunch of land" between Chicago and Reno, or something. Kirk dealt with blowback from many individuals who sought to stop the overton window in the conservative movement from shifting to the left on social issues, and was eventually pressure to change his position on the topic. Kirk has since gotten better in terms of rhetoric on the issue of immigration because of this, but still really did not change the fact that his rhetoric was still lacking in terms of other issues. And then came this tweet out of nowhere earlier this week:
It is very surprising to see this rhetoric coming from Charlie Kirk. He built his brand on the idea that socialism is America's biggest threat (despite it being virtually nonexistent here), but then acknowledges that woke capitalism and corporatism is a larger problem than what he and his organization rails against. It is really promising to see the fact that America First Conservatives and National Populist individuals like myself and many others have been successful at pressuring Charlie Kirk to adopt rhetoric that will actually help Republicans gain in the future.
Now, I do not trust Charlie Kirk one bit. He definitely tells his donors a different thing than he tells the public. He is not someone who I see as a genuine person. However, I do not see it as a negative if he is adopting some populist rhetoric. He definitely reaches a more boomeresque base, and that is the largest voting bloc in the electorate. However, be skeptical of what he says and what his motives are, no matter how much of an improvement his new rhetoric may seem.