I do believe that our 45th President Donald Trump was on balance a good President. I say on balance because I do take into consideration the few minuses, such as the appointing of Christopher Wray to run the FBI, allowing the influence of Dr. Fauci, the elevation in Federal spending and failure to complete the southern border wall.
In 2020 he was the incumbent, and as such I, the loyal Republican naturally supported his renomination for President. It is a very different calculus today, Trump is not the incumbent, sadly the man that defeated him, Joe Biden is the current occupant of the White House, and the guy we must defeat in 2024 to save the country.
For Trump and his primary backers, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the devastating fact of his defeat, and let’s face it losing to Joe Biden is devastating. To counter this inconvenient truth they promote the dubious claim that the 2020 election was stolen. The evidence doesn’t back up such a claim. Sure, the Democrats took advantage of the pandemic to push for mail in voting and states such as Pennsylvania liberalized the voting rules, without going to the legislature as the constitution requires. In addition, the pandemic made it easier for Joe Biden to hide in the basement. Making it tougher for voters and the media to question him. However, I doubt the mainstream media ever had any desire to ask Biden tough, probing or nuanced questions.
Even adding up all the irregularities, and yes, I believe that some fraud took place, it is impossible to say the election was stolen. As heartbreaking as it is, the American people picked Biden over Trump. They did it then and if forced to make the same choice in 2024 they will probably answer the same way.
Ironically, If Trump had acknowledged that he probably or might have legitimately lost, or at least refrained from the stop the steal rhetoric, he’d been in good shape today, I daresay he’d be almost a shoo in. As it stands, he is neck and neck with Biden in the polls. That is not good considering Biden is senile, in his 80’s and has a 40 percent approval rating. Trump’s negative rating is higher than Biden’s. That tells me that while most Americans don’t want either Biden or Trump, I think more American voters will hold their nose to vote for Biden. Trump like many Presidents before him got hit with events beyond his control. Hoover got a stock market crash, Buchanan got a country moving into a civil war, and Trump got the virus from Wuhan. Those are the breaks.
But what has changed from 2020? Why is Trump going to be stronger in 2024? What Biden state will he win this time? I can’t see any. Georgia? Well, Georgia elected Trump’s Nemesis Republican Governor Brian Kemp handily, while Trump backed, indeed produced a challenger David Purdue in a primary who lost big. Trump also endorsed Herschel Walker who went on to lose a winnable senate race. Perhaps Pennsylvania? Well, Trump backed Doctor Oz who ended up losing to a guy Jon Fetterman, who makes Biden look compos mentis. Maybe Trump can pick up Arizona? Well, his acolyte Kari Lake lost her race for Governor. Perhaps she was seen as too much like Trump.
Trump ran the table in 2016, he drew a weak opponent, perhaps the most hated woman in American politics, and eked out a win. It’s been downhill ever since. In the midterms in 2018 we Republicans, with Trump as the head of our party lost 40 seats in the House. In 2020 we lost the White House and the Senate. In 2022 Trump endorsed a number of high-profile senate candidates. Needless to say, we didn’t retake the senate. While it was quite possible and there were a number of scenarios to retake the senate several Trump backed candidates lost.
It seemed bad enough on January 6th 2021, after that day I thought if Trump ever wanted to be President again or even invited back to the White House as a guest, he would never make it. But it got worse for Trump’s comeback goal. He has now been indicted over the handling of classified documents. And there may be more indictments to come. While I do believe the prosecutorial cases against Trump are for the most part politically motivated, I don’t believe he is completely innocent either. He had to have known that the left was out to get him, and act more carefully. Indeed, every prosecutor in every blue state throughout our beautiful land want to make a name for themselves by prosecuting him. Some even explicitly run on that promise.
At worst he broke the law regarding classified documents, at best he acted recklessly. Either way, that is not good. Its not good for us Republicans that feel compelled to keep defending him. And he wants to be our nominee for President. His poor behavior puts our quest to retake the White House at risk.
If we nominate Trump the election in 2024 will become more about him and his alleged scandals and less about Biden’s poor record. We need the election to be a referendum on Biden not about Trump.
We Republicans have every reason to be very optimistic about 2024. So much so that already measuring the drapes and curtains in the White House would be intellectually defensible. And the Senate map favors us, heck basically guarantees we take over that chamber. Imagine a President Ron DeSantis with the house and 55 senate seats.
We have a number of good candidates who are more conservative than Trump, more electable than Trump and no doubt have the potential to be more effective in the white house than Trump.
If we get off the Trump train, nominate anyone of our great candidates and we win in 2024. It’s that simple.
Let’s not give Biden and the media Trump to kick around anymore.
David Shephard is the author of “Elections Have Consequences; A Cautionary Tale.”