Discredited, divisive, nothing new to sell, trials ahead, Trump’s last hurrah reeks of retribution
The self-destructive Republican Party advances its decline, hoisted on its own contradictions, primitive candidates and deranged brew of mass delusion with idiocy. And that all preceded McCarthy’s animal House of clowns and klutzes, just starting its scorched-earth branding – so don’t expect redemption here. Cult addiction – still absent real-world job growth programs – clings to the Loser-in-chief with an electoral dead weight spouting spite, tantrums and retribution. Unlike the phoenix, resurrected after death, where’s the heir apparent capable of taking command, repairing the worsening damage, even redeeming a true national party?
At CPAC, the Avenger-in-chief made clear all Trump offers is violent retribution, bizarrely going out of his way to slander the only party he needs to again hijack: “The Republican Party was ruled by freaks, neocons, open-border zealots and fools. We’re never going back to the party of Paul Ryan, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.” Right, instead Trumpists must recommit to election denial and vengeful belligerence (reliving Jan 6?) – qualifying as especially tin ear propaganda by dramatizing how presidential is the underestimated, legislatively successful Biden.
In good years, with half-way legitimate candidates without drastic baggage (like the Bushes), Rethugs only won the popular vote once since 1992. And 2024 looks like anything but a good year. Winning the Electoral College without popular vote endorsement is a long shot, no trustworthy projection. Now, seven years into the toxic dumpster that is Trumpism (who never held majority support in voting or polling), the Grievance Over Party (GOP) faces a reasonably popular, scandal-free Democratic unifier whose party support will rocket against an authoritarian, rights-stealing Trumpist.
Simple question: what visible rightwinger can solidify enough national leverage in enough big states to beat Biden (or any centrist, competent Democrat campaigner)? No Democrat carries the unshakable stink of a Trump or a DeSantis, a Pence or Pompeo.
In short, one can imagine decent, national Democrats, if not Biden, leveraging a strong, four year record with expansive, country-wide deliverables. Name one Republican who can run a legitimate, positive campaign while offsetting the shrunken Trump base, Never Trumpers, and billionaire donors fed up with the anti-governance, anti-compassion, anti-victory party? Sure, anything can happen, but like progressive malcontents eager to dump the aged Biden without one real-world alternative, what rightwinger can beat an appealing Democratic moderate like Sherrod Brown or Gov. Whitmer?
End matches the means
On point, there’s nothing random about the current Rethug dead-end, the offspring of the brazenly opportunistic Trump hijacking and abusing an established party without which no electability. And if the spoiled Complainer-in-chief runs a third party, the Dems will run the table. Further, while Trump is capable of pulverizing the DeSantis dullard (if he runs at all, as postponement benefits him), he has no chance for national redemption. Trump glories in being a subversive party leader (how else to hold unchallenged, solitary power?). He never valued or fostered the party, instead playing the avenging bad angel against his fantasies of entrenched power.
Thus, Trump’s craven, racist attacks on McConnell and his (non-white) wife, then stupidly (needlessly) paling around with racists (the one constituency locked in like granite). When did the Trump cult ever expand his electorate towards the center (bringing in non-voters, but still small numbers)? As opposed to the Dems, greatly coalesced since the disaster of 2016, Trump has committed political negligence by recklessly stunting the party growth he needed to return to power.
Trump has just enough knee-jerk loyalists to squeeze out the nomination, especially since his wizard challengers are duplicating their conspicuous 2016 blunder: too many notes (read: primary candidates). Split a split party and 30% can win a most pyrrhic victory. So not only will primary Rethugs eat their own, they will hand off the prize to the least deserving, least loyal, greatest loser in a century. Barely electable in 2016 (thanks to an appalling Hilary campaign), what has this squanderer of incumbency done since leaving office that makes him MORE electable? Not untenable election denial, not inciting an insurrection, and not glorifying as patriots the (confirmed) criminal Capitol insurgents.
Dead end, no messiah looms
Even if DeSantis is nominated, where’s the evidence that steering Florida back into the Middle Ages is a winning national strategy? Florida is no longer purple, and much of America is appalled at what’s happening to education, free speech and gender/human rights. Would not even a non-Biden Democrat, after a reasonable, fair-minded primary, be less scathed than any Rethug hack surviving a grueling battlefield where there’s no bottom to the low-blow invective.
Further, hard to measure is how much worse will Trump look after historic, multiple (persuasive) indictments, even a conviction or two with severe penalties? Were his health to fall off, his cancerous ripples won’t vanish when he departs. What perfect high comedy that a fraudulent, self-obsessed master schemer, without principles liberal or conservative, will live on – the imploding party bunker buster. Beyond irony, more like poetic justice on steroids.
Eventually, as with any flashy meteor, sputtering on whim and chaos, there will be a post-Trump era. True, these days that’s as hard to envision as a nationally-electable Republican. No party so corruptly but predictably ambushed (indeed, geared up for it by FOX and company) can anticipate the inflicted damage. Becoming a regional party is hardly off the table. There’s no safety rail when a cowardly national party condones, even supports the errant gut instinct of nothing less than all the worst qualities of humanity in one person. Trump is such a nincompoop that when he couldn’t concoct plausible “election fraud,” he defaulted to rigidly brand it as “stolen” – simply because the loser got fewer votes. Say what? No outrage across American history matches this unquenchable humiliating laugher.
Perhaps when the dust has cleared, historians will identify Trump’s most notable if disruptive feat: he single-handedly demolished one of two national parties running U.S. politics for 175 years – and a thorough enough trashing to boost Democrats for a generation. What we do know is that his last public hurrah, the ultimate in victimized, self-pitying martyrdom, will end with as much coarse ugliness as he campaigned and ruled. Racist, oblivious, amateur demagogues just don’t play well over time.
Trump always dreamed of notching history, but what if he ends up closer to the pantheon of Madoff or Cosby, a dim bulb compared to successful, much more strategic authoritarian rulers like Putin. In any case, PT Barnum falls to a distant second in the perpetual Yankee hustler sweepstakes. The ultimate putdown of “Like Trump” will be immortalized in the American vernacular.