How much Donald Trump is too much?
The answer depends on who you ask, with some subjects claiming there is no limit to the quantity of bombastic anti-establishment and Democrat punching that the former president is renowned for while others have already moved on from the forty-fifth president’s controversial and never-ending in-your-face personal style. “Trump is Trump” sums up the views of the middle group, with these folks neither begging for nor outwardly hostile to the continuing presence of the New Yorker in the headlines.
Debate still rages over Trump’s actual command of today’s Republican Party, but there’s little doubt that he plans to remain in the driver’s seat whether the GOP higher-ups want him there or not. Most former presidents can’t wait to retire, to drift into relative obscurity and adopt some quirky hobby (like George W. Bush and painting portraits) or play a lot of golf or home in on their legacy as enshrined in their presidential library. But not Trump.
For now and the near future, Trump clearly intends to further his mission to reshape the Republican Party into a Make America Great Again (or currently, “Save America”) machine. The 2022 GOP primaries aren’t all that far away, and there’s comparatively little else in Washington to talk about these days specifically relating to Republican politics. Democrats control the White House, House of Representatives and the Senate -- and the always untrustworthy media -- so they dominate policy, and it isn’t going well for them.
Republicans react but they don’t lead the discussion. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has proven to be better and more assertive than most conservatives originally speculated he would be, but the California product is not a newsmaker and never will be. Neither is Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who puts most people to sleep. When “Murder Turtle” Mitch is not doing his best impression of a sleep-inducing medication he’s ticking liberty lovers off with another capitulation to the Democrats (see “bipartisan” infrastructure bill, which initiated a chain reaction that led to the liberals’ budget bill).
Today’s leadership void in Republican-land is tangible. That’s where Trump comes in. And he loves every minute of the impression.
That leaves Trump vs. his detractors. How much is too much? W. James Antle III wrote at The Washington Examiner:
“GOP insiders would love to see Trump help turn out the base next year and would like even better to retain his competitiveness in the Rust Belt — the key to his Electoral College upset in 2016 and maintaining some suspense about President Joe Biden’s win last year — in 2024.
“But even some who are sympathetic to Trump worry that he hasn’t gotten over his 2020 loss, continuing to claim that the election was stolen from him, and is too focused on intraparty grievances to remain an effective Republican leader going forward...
“Some Republicans fear there will be more ghosts that come back to haunt the party. ‘The general mood of the GOP is that while [Trump] still has some influence in the primaries with his endorsements, it hurts our candidates in the general election,’ said the veteran operative. ‘In fact, I don't believe we take back the Senate if his endorsed candidates to date win their primaries. Two of them have spousal abuse issues, for goodness' sake.’”
The same establishment consultants who worry about “ghosts” should take a page from Trump’s successful playbook and adopt his take-no-prisoners style when defending reputations and fighting for GOP candidates chosen in competitive primaries the way Democrats always do. Liberals are consistent and they recognize the importance of party unity. How long did it take for Democrats to turn on Andrew Cuomo after it was first revealed that he frequently violated the personal space of an untold number of female subordinates?
To Democrats, it was okay that Cuomo’s crappy policies directly led to the COVID deaths of tens of thousands of nursing home patients, but if he made improper advances to a staffer… he’s gotta go! Or how about when a sitting president of the United States plays hide the cigar with a young twenty-something intern and the party honks not only ignore the dirty deed but instead rally around him, telling people to butt (pardon the pun) out and give the man a little leeway?
Trump’s 2022 endorsement will not only be highly coveted, it’ll bring gold in the primaries and the general election. Is there a GOP candidate in the nation who would rather be Liz Cheney (who still plans to run for reelection though her only chance is to have her fellow challengers split the “Never Cheney” vote) than the fortunate and thoroughly vetted candidates on Trump’s list?
The key for any Republican candidate next year is to make sure the base is motivated behind their campaigns, because Trump’s supporters are consistently the most enthusiastic and will provide the legwork and grassroots dollars to fuel their efforts. With Joe Biden’s approval ratings hitting the floor -- and very unlikely to rise much, if any -- the same voters who might’ve rejected Trump last November aren’t about to make the same mistake twice. Independents have abandoned Biden and what’s the chance they’ll split tickets just because Trump likes a particular candidate?
Are people really that stupid? Um… hopefully not.
The so-called #NeverTrump faction -- if indeed it still exists in large enough numbers to make a difference -- theoretically shouldn’t be against Republican candidates when pitted opposite liberal Democrats. If these pretenders are as “principled” as they claim to be, they will stand up for the GOP’s agenda regardless of where the former president resides. Trump isn’t on the ballot next year, is he?
Meanwhile, Donald Trump isn’t an idiot. He realizes that his involvement and endorsement in some states or districts could actually do damage to Republican candidates and would likely stay away to save promising newcomers from having to defend him rather than tout their own accomplishments and devotion to the cause of saving the nation from the Democrats. But there are many, many blood-red territories searching earnestly for candidates with some spirit in them.
The Republican party needs more Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Jim Jordans and Tim Scotts and Lauren Boeberts and lot fewer Liz Cheneys, Adam Kinzingers and Lisa Murkowskis. Democrats always run candidates in swing districts who cling to the “bipartisan” label and commonly use catchphrases like “work together” and “reach across the aisle,” but when they reach Congress, these politicians become little tools for Nancy Pelosi.
Trump doesn’t want individuals who crave to go to Washington to pad their resumes or jump feet first into the putrid swamp to be accepted as a fellow creature by the ruling class. Trump actively seeks out ambitious aspirants who are fearless and willing to put America First and battle back against the status quo. In essence, Trump is working to clean house from the days of John Boehner and Paul Ryan and Trent Lott -- and Mitch McConnell.
Picture it this way. Trump is like the quarterback of a football team. He takes the snap starting the play, hands the ball off to the star running back or keeps it himself or passes it downfield to an open receiver. Who would fill this role in the GOP better than Trump?
It's not loyalty that Trump is after, it’s conservatives with fire in their soul. Why else do you think Trump reconciled with Ted Cruz for the 2016 general election campaign against Hillary Clinton? Why did some of Trump’s fiercest rivals and detractors -- like Ben Carson and Lindsey Graham -- become his closest friends? Most Republicans have many things in common in terms of policy. Trump added an emphasis on fighting and winning to the mix.
It’s why the establishment media and Trump’s Democrat opponents hate him so much.
2024 will take care of itself when the time comes. Most indicators suggest Trump will run again but his focus -- and our focus -- needs to be on finding the best candidates to run in 2022. We need to seek out people who believe in the right things and present themselves well, would-be officeholders with a demonstrated history of success and winning. It won’t inspire the Trump base to elevate establishment candidates who couldn’t lead a boy scout troop on an overnight campout.
How much Trump is too much? Everyone must decide for themselves. Maybe the real question should be how much Trump is too little? The Republican Party was always proficient at winning elections but not very good at advancing an agenda. Trump is an asset in both realms. A GOP without Trump is unthinkable at this stage of decline in Joe Biden’s America.
Something the naysayers should consider the next time they doubt him.
2022 GOP primaries
2024 GOP presidential candidates
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