Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 is widely described as ‘shocking’ even though the indicators were there for those astute enough to notice them. After Trump won, I described in this column that probably only two presidents In my lifetime could’ve beaten him: Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, when each was in his political prime.
Let’s not forget, Reagan was known as the ‘Teflon President’ and Clinton as ‘Slick Willie. Neither would have let Trump get under their skins, the way Hillary and countless Republican primary rivals foolishly did. In fact, Reagan and Clinton would have had Trump in fits by effectively ignoring him.
It seems that Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida and possible 2024 Republican presidential nominee, has figured that out. Ever since the 2020 election, Republicans have been divided over whether they want to see Trump run again or simply vote for Trump’s policies in the form of a less abrasive persona. Much of the mainstream media is left-leaning and routinely commits journalistic malpractice (the rightwing media does too, but Trump and DeSantis aren’t their targets) and above all wants ratings, so what better way to achieve both than to instigate a Trump-DeSantis feud to splinter the party so that supporters of the one who doesn’t get the nomination stay home for the general election?
To this point, DeSantis hasn’t taken the bait. Trump, true to his nature, promises he’ll vote for DeSantis for governor this November, but reminds that DeSantis would’ve never won in the first place without his endorsement. Trump also boasts about how he beats DeSantis in poll after poll. Yet DeSantis prudently continues to ignore it.
A media-driven feud that would emphasize their differences would also serve to quash any hopes of a Trump-DeSantis ticket, which would be a dream to Republicans and a nightmare to Democrats. Never mind that Trump would have to move to a different state (DeSantis wouldn’t, since he’d presumably still be governor) to satisfy presidential election laws; that’s a mere technicality. But sources in the know insist that, much like Newt Gingrich, DeSantis is an Alpha male who won’t play second fiddle to anyone.
Also, it would appear that DeSantis wouldn’t damage the party by running if Trump does. Therefore, it’s Trump’s call at the moment as to who gets the 2024 nomination.
No Republican can stop Trump, except Trump.
Many Trump supporters, including me, were disappointed with Trump’s post-election behavior. Though to blame him for ‘inciting a riot’ is histrionic overhype, he didn’t do enough to project a ‘country first’ mindset. His loophole seeking to stall the electoral certification would mean the most powerful person in America is the incumbent vice president. I wouldn’t want to live in a country where that’s the case; that’s even worse than imagining AOC as president.
Trump’s refusal to concede the election and snubbing of Joe Biden’s inauguration were petulant. Nonetheless, all of that happened in a stretch of a couple of months, and as bad as it was does not erase the impressively long list of positive accomplishments.
As I’d been telling people all spring and summer, I’ll vote for Trump in 2024 if he’s the candidate, but I’d rather not see him run. Sadly, all presidents are easy targets for the
petty, jealous haters seething with envy because they’re not the ones flying around all over the world on Air Force One, but even by that measure the contempt for Trump is far beyond the ordinary. A different candidate might be more effective in governing because the left can’t possibly sell the notion that s/he’d be just as bad as they’ve been saying Trump’s been, because thousands if not millions of sensible Americans would head for the exits.
Something happened in early August that changed my mind, though. The FBI raided Trump’s home, marking the first time in U.S. history that a former president has been treated so disrespectfully. As of this writing, there aren’t many details to report, other than that the authorities are purportedly investigating whether Trump illegally removed classified documents from the White House upon leaving office.
It’s indisputable that presidents have the authority to declassify documents. But did Trump declassify the documents before taking them, and even if he did, did he declassify them for an improper purpose, such as to cover up incriminating information?
These questions remain unanswered, but it’s also well-known that many past presidents helped themselves to documents upon leaving office that objectively would merit as least as much hubbub.
The reasons they’re singling out Trump are obvious: so they can throw the book at him and force him to make a deal to stay out of jail but be permanently banned from every seeking office again. They might even bar him from holding public rallies, as any self-respecting banana republic would do.
I’m back to hoping Trump runs. Not because I necessarily think he’s the best candidate, but because otherwise the bullies win. America’s establishmentarian duopoly, which transcends party and ideology and includes the media, academia, Hollywood, and even Wall Street, through vile and evil methods, will have destroyed its most credible threat in decades, all the while sporting an “aw, shucks, who, me?” facade for the gullible public to behold.
Big changes happen when the masses finally scream aloud: “enough is enough!” This antic is far from the beginning of that outcry, but it’s enough of an affront to kick public outrage up a few notches.
It will help Trump – who for many turns from sore loser to victim in one fell swoop – in 2022 and 2024. But maybe he wouldn’t even be viable if only they knew how to ignore him.