Despite being the only Republican candidate who could have won in 2016, he is currently (in my mind, at least) the only one who could lose in 2024.
I am a big picture guy. For my money, Donald Trump’s presidency was greatest not in the many policies he enacted, but because of what he represented. I have the words to back it up; in the aftermath of the 2020 election I wrote that “Win Or Lose, Trump Saved America.” I still stand by every word. The movement Trump inspired – arguably one of the greatest conservative revivals in American history – was born of his justified hostility to the corporate media, unabashed love of country, and general fearlessness.
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Indeed, the movement kickstarted by Trump is far larger than his fleeting presidency or of the man himself. It needs to stay that way.
Setting aside the ego-driven interview with Candace Owens the other week and the garbled messaging around his vaccine program, I am struggling more and more with the prospect of a Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2024. Let me count the ways.
First of all, I think conservatives pride themselves on being, among other things, practical. Is it practical if Trump attempts a return to the White House? What is gained exactly by Trump being president, and not, say, Ron DeSantis, Rand Paul, or another liberty-oriented executive?
Like it or not, Trump’s style of politics turns people off. The same traits that catapulted him to his nomination and ultimate electoral victory in 2016 are, for better or worse, the same traits that likewise prevent otherwise sensible people from voting for him. In my immediate orbit, I can think of twelve people that cast a vote in 2016 that didn’t return the favor in 2020. And that’s only a really immediate orbit. Concerns of voter fraud are entirely legitimate, but so too is the fact that registered Republicans and center-right independents sat out the presidential contest. How much of his persona has been generated by the media and how much is a veritable inherent characteristic is moot; people have their minds made up one way or the other.
The other big problem with Donald Trump as a politician, as opposed to a kingmaker, is that his ability to provide clear, concise, and meaningful rhetoric is a glaring weak spot. Yes, the hubris and the attack-first mentality play well in soundbites and make me proud to have a rare patriot in the White House, but played longer and those soundbites start to sound like a glorified book report without having read the book. Donald Trump is a very savvy individual, but explaining complex and nuanced ideas is not one of his fortes. That’s not a dig, either. That’s just a reality. As the left continues its relentless encroachment on American values and ways of life, we need a leader who can identify, name, and provide a pinpointed solution to the problem. If the conservative movement wishes to attract new voters, it will have to appeal to their rationality and intellect. Can Trump do that?
There are then other practical concerns. Is Trump immortal? Doubtful. Should he run and win in 2024, his single term would conclude with him being 82 years old. He’s obviously more vibrant than Brandon at a similar age, but anyone with parents or grandparents knows that sudden declines are, unfortunately, not rare. What then? Rather than have established a youthful two-term prospect like DeSantis, the Republican Party would suddenly be running its 2028 hopeful on a (more than likely) less-than-desirable vice president. Not only would Trump be gone, but his movement could similarly evaporate. Conversely, by playing the role of kingmaker Trump would both be passing the torch and cheerleading. His movement could gain its own momentum during his lifetime.
There is finally the practical concern that a Trump rerun would be as much for his personal ego as it is his beloved country. That’s not a fatal flaw, but it would sully the attempt. If Donald Trump did love America, and it seems obvious he does, then shouldn’t that love manifest in his removal from consideration? Any Trump campaign would signal, among other things, that he is as much interested in himself and his legacy and he is this country.
Like all historical figures, Trump is no doubt concerned with his legacy. His presidency was great in many ways, and certainly hampered by a lying fake news media and the resultant mass formation psychosis (phrased contemporarily as Trump Derangement Syndrome). At the same time, he had his shot. He made bad cabinet appointments and likely underestimated the extent of the Deep State, but did he overhaul anything drastically? As far as I can tell, the Department of Education still exists. That needs to go. There isn’t a wall or tough immigration policy. That needs to happen. There is rampant abuse of our federal money printer. That’s on him as much as Biden. Can Trump deliver the critical changes we all need? His previous presidency simply doesn’t suggest so. He loves America on principle; now we need a president who understands how to act on that love.
Asked again, what is gained by a Trump presidency that could not be gained by a non-Trump presidency? As far as I can tell, not a whole lot. If he runs he knows he has my vote, so there’s that. Right now, though, I’d like to consider voting for someone else. Maybe, just maybe, he’d be willing to cast a ballot for someone else, too.