About a month ago, Donald Trump gave an extended interview to The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens and it didn’t play well for me. I wrote my response to that interview here. I had long been considering possible alternatives to a Trump run, but with each passing day it seems that the conservative agenda is ready for a different nominee.
Apparently, I am not the only one. Two recent articles from my inbox – one from this same site by a regular contributing author and the other by the intellectual heavyweight and inimitable Ann Coulter – both featured compelling arguments reaching similar conclusions: Trump’s reign might be over. Both are worth taking the time to read.
Supporting their claims are polling figures, cited in the articles, and our own comments section, which illuminate a growing discontent with the prospects of a renewed Trump campaign effort. I will share a few such comments at the end of this piece. Although I expected a lot of pushback, since our reader demographics skew towards older white males, we got a host of sympathetic agreement. I dare say people are glad to be having this conversation in the open. (Wait, you liked Trump but don’t want him again either? Me neither! Whew!)
Make no mistake, Trump was a fantastic spokesperson and lightning rod for conservative populism. He was the only – literally the only – Republican candidate that had a fighting chance to defeat Hillary in 2016 and who could uniquely provide a launchpad for a rejuvenated, hope-filled base of conservative Americans. His stand against the corporate media was absolutely essential. This is and was all terrific.
Perhaps because of the combination of his rare (for the GOP) courage and list of accomplishments, the brand/aura/image of the former president demands an odd reverence from a group of people that don’t normally want or express such homage. In a perfect world, we’d have an invisible president to signify a quite limited government. I am envisioning a do-nothing Calvin Coolidge. Instead, we have a larger-than-life politician.
This all being said, then, I can’t help but wonder if Trump’s place in space and time has passed. He served an essential role, no question. Is it time to move on, though?
I laid out a few central misgivings and apprehensions in my last piece. To recap, I laid out four main observations. First, I wondered what he brought to the table that someone else like a DeSantis, Paul, or as-of-yet unidentified candidate could not? Asked in 2016, and the answer would have been no one. Asked today, and I think it’s a legitimate question.
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Second, and related then, I asked why we should have more faith that Trump, who installed every Deep State actor known to DC in his cabinet, should be presumably more trustworthy to fight the Establishment in his second go-round. Framed differently, what is different in the swamp in 2022 than in 2017? Let me just point out the obvious: Fauci is still there. So is everyone and everything else.
Third, who will he win over in the electorate that he didn’t last time? Election fraud or not, and even acknowledging the sizable increase in votes in his defense election, Trump admittedly turned some voters off. Can we quantify how many? Not likely, but can we at least reason that some voters might be more inclined to vote for a different GOP candidate based on just a person’s personality? Similarly, there’s the not-insignificant fact that Trump has major issues in communicating specifics. He’s a big picture guy. He sees through nonsense. But he just doesn’t spell out specifics. As I said in the last piece, this isn’t a knock against him, it’s just the reality.
Fourth, admittedly less crucial, I don’t want another old person in the White House. It’s as simple as that. What is gained by Trump the octogenarian, single-term president that couldn’t be better achieved by Trump the octogenarian MAGA kingmaker or Trump the torch passer? He is throwing his weight around House races right now and making a huge America-first dent in washing out RINOs like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. This is good. But let’s not forget he lost the first two Senate races he endorsed as president emeritus.
At the end of the day, only one question matters in the political arena: What strategy wins the White House in 2024 and also provides the best opportunities for sustained change? Maybe it is Trump. Let’s have that conversation. But maybe it isn’t. And let’s have that conversation, too. Suffice to say, many are indeed having it.
As promised, here are a few of the comments. They by no means represent the totality of viewpoints, but as a matter of representing conservative readers, it’s not a small percentage that see real value in an alternative Republican candidate:
- “Prior officeholders have to run on their record. Trump’s is excellent except for one issue – the vaccines. Fair or not, he’ll be judged by a wary and weary electorate on those experimental medicines whose dangerous side effects are just now coming out. Oh, and he won’t be able to run for re-election in 2028, and his manner will disaffect middle-class white women, who in 2028 will be that much less likely to favor a republican. I love him, but DeSantis avoids all these issues. I hope Trump does not run.”
- “I have been a supporter of Trump for a long time. My problem with him is he picked RINOs and known Dems for his administration. Pence was always an establishment republican. He still hasn’t learned by endorsing a leftist traitor for Tennessee. He is fast losing my support. DeSantis would be much better.”
- “Agree. 100%. I too was not a Trump fan but wound up appreciating much of what he accomplished. I loathe the establishment uniparty. Alas. My eyes have been opened to exactly how bad the cheating that goes on in elections has become. And, honestly, I think even the RINO establishment rigs their elections. Nothing ever changes and they like it that way. Trump rocked their boat. It needed rocking. It needs more rocking. Capsizing even. But, like you, I don’t think Trump is the one to do it. We need more libertarians in the conservative movement.”
- “Although I voted for Trump both times and was a strong supporter, 3 things stand out that give me cause for pause for future support. Many of his key picks for high offices were deep state, he was quick to roll out the Vax and now pushes it (only pulling back after being booed by his base – typical politician), and finally he has been as quiet as a mouse about the unjust and illegal imprisonment of his jailed January 6 supporters who have been denied due process. Leaders don’t throw their followers to the wolves. I no longer know whose side he is truly on as he considers the Clintons “decent” people and wishes Epstein’s girlfriend G. Maxwell well.”
Depressingly, we still have three years of Joe Biden (or, somehow, someone worse) left to lord over us with irrational and tyrannical mandates. Let’s hope we make it to 2024 in one piece to find out what happens.