The Right Resistance: Donald Trump and the eternal dilemma of fifty percent plus one
Amidst all of the recent chatter surrounding the upcoming 2024 Republican primary race has been the notion advanced by many that former President Donald Trump should not only not be the primary winner – that he can’t be the ultimate nominee.
Why? Doubters claim it’s because Trump can’t dream of attracting fifty percent of American votes and therefore, nominating him for the GOP’s next presidential runner is a suicide mission for the conservative Republican grassroots before it even takes flight. Because of the way that senile president Joe Biden has thoroughly dismantled and trampled on any semblance of fiscal – and cultural – sanity, the prospect of potentially losing in two years is something that can’t even be contemplated by lots of smart people.
Therefore, the question becomes, can Donald Trump change his political stripes and be that majority maker in the Republican Party? Some say never. And that’s being kind. In a piece titled “Nominating a Republican Who Can Get 50 Percent”, respected Political Science Professor Paul Kengor wrote at The American Spectator last week:
“[T]he bigger problem for Trump is not merely that he can’t get 50 percent of the vote from the general population but that well over 50 percent of the populace despise him with an extraordinary vehemence, a red-hot hatred. Conceivably, a Republican who isn’t liked could still win a national election, especially against Biden, who also isn’t liked. The problem with Trump is that the dislike for him long ago escalated to the point of seething rage among a massive segment of the population. What that means is that Trump in a general election turns out people on the other side — he drives voters sprinting to the voting booth to cast ballots against him.
“That is not good for a party’s nominee. You don’t want that. To be fair, Trump also has a sizable portion of people that will run to the voting booth to cast ballots for him. Trump has followers who would light themselves on fire for the man. But Trump has opponents who fume with fiery rage against him. And the latter outnumber the former.
“What that means in a general election is that he loses, again. The Republicans lose, again.”
I’ve heard this argument a lot. And I think, based on results of the past few years, that the naysayers not only have a leg to stand on, they’re correct in their assessment. I believe that if the 2024 election were held today that Donald Trump would lose. Doddering old idiot Joe Biden would beat him and so would most any Democrat who could make a coherent case against him. Or they could simply sit out the campaign as Biden did in 2020 and Arizona’s Katie Hobbs did this year.
But today is not 2024, and this gives Trump – and any Republican would-be candidate – time to shape their candidacies, though obviously Trump’s comes with a ton of pre-conceived baggage.
So I’ll put on my Trump advisor hat and provide advice to the former president on how he might boost his numbers four or five points. The Democrats are so incompetent and corrupted that at least 45 percent would vote against them for any Republican, including Trump. Besides, their potential candidates are horrible. In this, I’m playing somewhat of a devil’s advocate because, as I’ve argued in this space a lot lately, there may be better choices than a Trump 3.0 candidacy – not only for the chances of winning, but also the possibility of getting something substantive done by the next president. Even if Trump managed to get past the voters and came into power with slim congressional majorities, he’d still have to clear the Washington establishment hurdle to press MAGA forward, a task he was largely unsuccessful at doing during his four years in the White House.
Translation: Conservatives need a 2024 candidate who can not only prevail in the Electoral College, we – and the whole country – require an extraordinary man or woman who could assume power, understand his or her limits, work within and without the system, kick the crap out of the swamp creatures but look friendly while doing it, and then attain and maintain an approval rating that will permit him or her to withstand the onslaught of mud and negativity that’s waiting around the corner of every news cycle to make the president look aloof, uncaring, out-of-touch, unprepared, physically incapable, mentally incapacitated and… downright mean.
The last point is particularly important because, as we discovered under the very capable but chronically unpopular Trump, if a president isn’t supported by most of the public, the stodgy swamp establishment simply won’t go along with his or her agenda. And then you get what happened in 2017 through 2020, namely an opposition party that won’t budge – on anything – and a small contingent of RINOs who feel empowered to hold out whenever they feel like it, and emerge politically unscathed.
Does such a superhero-type politician even exist? It’s a pretty tall order in today’s political environment to suggest that any Republican can command a working majority of the people behind him or her. And in the case of a very flawed Donald Trump, it would be near impossible for him to bring enough doubters into the GOP tent to make it work. Not only would he have to figure out a way to win the election (hard but not insurmountable), he’d need to morph into a “uniter” type human being whose best talent is selling his agenda, not pursuing personal vendettas or ticking people (including his friends) off all the time.
And on day one he’d confront some sort of massive boycott of his inauguration in addition to leftist protest crowds that would make those of 2016 and 2020 look small and tame by comparison. The nationwide rioting would reach epic proportions and Trump might even have to call out the national guard before he sits down to his inaugural lunch with Congress.
I’m just pointing this out, not trying to downplay a Trump presidency before it has a chance to get a bunch of positive things done quickly.
By the same token, is there any Republican who could win in 2024 who wouldn’t engender such a collective leftist freakout? Probably not. But here’s thinking the demonstrations against Trump would be that much more intense. Why? Because of Trump’s hard-edged personality.
Trump’s team would need a plan in place on what to do about the political “unrest”. During the presidential transition, for instance, he would not only need to recruit a cabinet full of capable conservatives who could execute their duties in a flawless manner, he’d also need steely-spined advisors whose expertise is in weaving public opinion – and to get some cooperation from the media. Heck, Fox News might not even be in Trump’s corner the next time around, since Rupert Murdock has already announced that he’s opposing Trump.
It won’t be enough for Trump to think he can come in and steamroll simply by the force of his will and confident decision-making.
Can this kerfuffle be avoided by nominating someone else? Perhaps. The Republican primary voters will decide. But as Mama Gump said in “Forrest Gump”: “We’re talking about five little points here. There must be something can be done.”
Is it possible for Trump to get those points to reach 50 percent? Trump’s most difficult task is persuading most of the persuadable independents to give him another chance while also trying to pick off a few Democrats. Since there is no way the Chuck Schumer/Nancy Pelosi limousine liberal class and the AOC angry single female bloc will ever warm to him, there’s little use in appealing to the elites and/or the pathetic “I’m young and I only care about myself – the country be damned” -- useless cohort.
Forgive me if I sound like Karl Rove scribbling on his white board on Election Night, but Trump’s people must break the basics down to understand where there might be extra votes to snatch from Joe Biden.
I believe Trump’s best hope for mining a few percentage points of gold from Democrats clearly lies in continuing to appeal to minority communities to crossover the party switch threshold. There’s already some precedent that this is happening, since around forty percent of Hispanics voted Republican this year – about ten points higher than a decade ago – and the Republican party won the popular congressional ballot vote, rather easily, too.
Trump can also reverse course and start calling on his masses of supporters to vote early and put the resources into ballot harvesting, within the rules, of course. I realize this is heresy to most conservatives, but last week, Ned Ryun made a very persuasive argument for doing so at American Greatness. If Democrats are putting in the money and effort into sending out ballots and making sure they’re collected, then so can Republicans, particularly targeting the marginalized religious and working class folks who don’t think voting does any good.
Changing tactics would upset the sizable number of conservatives who continue hammering the voter fraud angle, but until they produce concrete proof of shenanigans that will sway the average non-political person on the street, it won’t bring results. And we need to win – and win NOW.
Doing so would force Trump to cease repeating that the 2020 election was stolen, but elections are about the future, not the past. Trump is smart enough to realize that continuing to dwell on the unfairness of 2020 won’t get him anywhere. If anything, it will cause millions of good people who otherwise might think about voting again for Trump to either stay home or vote third party. If Trump can convince anyone that he’s changed, it’s in this area. And it could help him win those extra few little ol’ points, too.
There’s time to figure out whether Donald Trump is right for the GOP in 2024. It will depend on who runs for the party nomination along with other factors we haven’t thought about yet. As my old law professor used to say, “You know what you know and you don’t know what you don’t know.” Let’s put some effort into knowing, and then talk about Trump’s chances.
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