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The Right Resistance: Trump toys with Republican establishment on 2024 campaign announcement

Let’s assume, for today’s sake, that Donald Trump will, as anticipated, announce a third campaign for president in the near future. In other words, it’s a done deal, a sealed envelope, an inevitability. The only mystery is when should he utter the actual words?

There are several schools of thought on the question. The first one suggests that it really doesn’t matter when Trump gives the go ahead, meaning everyone already knows it’s going to happen and therefore there’s no suspense involved whatsoever – and his entry won’t have much of an impact on the upcoming federal midterm elections, because, again, even the Democrats are in on the worst kept political secret in America today.


A second school counsels that Trump must wait until after November’s elections to say anything because there are dormant Democrats lounging in their safe spaces feeling depressed about the utterly failed presidency of senile Joe Biden, and they shouldn’t be startled awake and motivated to vote for liberal candidates due to Trump’s orange mug lurking in the background. These Trump-hating folks automatically presume that a vote for a Republican in state or jurisdiction x is merely a proxy for another Donald Trump presidency.


The “he must wait” crowd is predominantly populated by establishment Republicans, the usual overly cautious lot who stay awake at night worrying about Trump’s every move and statement. The slightest twitch from the former president causes these scaredy cats to flinch, and the very thought of having to endure two-plus years of regular Trump rallies, heavy media coverage and the unpredictability the man represents is too much for them to contemplate.


There’s a third school speculating that Trump honestly hasn’t made up his mind yet and should therefore hold off until after November’s elections – or longer – to announce and thus avoid the possibility that he’d need to retract it later because of health, bad polls, a change of heart, or whatever. Having observed Trump for the past seven years, I think it would be extremely out of character to see him go back on anything, so it’s highly doubtful that once the 45th president tosses his proverbial hat into the ring that he’d suddenly pull the plug at some point.


Purveyors of this opinion also wonder whether Trump truly believes he can do it again – namely, beat an unnamed Democrat in the 2024 election. With it looking less and less likely that the broken down senile old goat Joe Biden is going to run for reelection, it’s at least conceivable that the liberal party could find an “out of the blue” candidate who could lie convincingly like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did. Such a person could be out there, right?


A last school of thought has Trump throwing the switch early so as to consolidate Republican support and discourage other potential challengers to his dominance of the GOP. After all, no one else has even hinted that they’d make an announcement in the near term. Possible Trump-competitors all say they’re “concentrating on the current campaign” (Ron DeSantis), or “waiting until after the midterms” (mostly every other person), or, “waiting to see what Trump does.”


So, the matter’s completely up in the air. But what else would you expect? The future is uncertain at best. The only thing that appears set in stone is Republicans will have a very solid opportunity to take back the White House. That fact alone must give folks hope, doesn’t it?


Whatever Trump decides, it doesn’t appear as though the Republican congressional higher-ups will go out of their way to stop him, this time. In a piece titled, “GOP leaders won't get in the way of Trump 2024”, Olivia Beavers and Burgess Everett reported at Politico:


“Out of 10 senior House Republicans interviewed for this story, including nine who are in leadership or aspiring for leadership roles, only three were ready to say they would definitely throw their support behind Trump in a presidential primary. That sentiment extends across the Capitol, where none of the expected top five elected Senate Republican leaders said they would move to quickly back Trump.


“At the same time, none of those leaders said they’d oppose Trump either — or work to back another candidate...


“No matter when or whether the former president might launch a third run, there’s also a small but crucial contingent of Republicans who suspect he may pass up a campaign. Those skeptics point to the money going into his super PAC that would face different regulations if he runs, his age, his health and the possibility that he risks further tarnishing his reputation with another loss.”


Far be it from me to admit that I agree with the Republican leadership on any particular strategy, but it’s smart for them to lay low at this juncture. For the few who’ve already said they would back Trump in the 2024 primaries, it doesn’t cost them anything. Should the former president announce that he’s running and the GOP primary electorate goes nuts with enthusiasm, then these few early bandwagoners will look especially insightful and discerning.


They’ll also likely get the attention of the top dog himself, who always appreciates – and rewards – loyalty. An attractive administration position or cabinet nomination could be waiting for the boosters, assuming they’re qualified in any particular area. Trump would never appoint anyone to a post they couldn’t handle. This isn’t like senile Joe’s tapping the hopelessly naïve and inexperienced Pete Buttigieg to head up the Department of Transportation just because he’s gay, has a husband, and said he liked trains as a kid.


Or selecting the “I can’t define ‘woman’ because I’m not a biologist” wishy-washy wavering of now Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. Or promising to appoint a [fill-in the blank] identity politics candidate like Kamala Harris just because she’s got African blood and happened to be born with female genitalia. No, Republicans aren’t like that.


For those leaders who are holding off on public Trump support, it doesn’t hurt them either. It’s at least a year before there would be any nationally televised primary candidate debates, and there are bound to be twists and turns between now and then, not the least of which is the entrance – and possible exit – of several challengers to Trump. There’s a credible group who could run, such as DeSantis, Mike Pompeo, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton, and there are establishment showboat-ers who would try it just to savage Trump.


This small gathering includes Liz Cheney and maybe Larry Hogan, John Kasich and Chris Christie. And Mike Pence, whose actions suggest he wants to be the establishment’s choice. None of these pretenders (except maybe for Pence) would register as a blip on the final radar screen, but they’ll have plenty of money should they want to try it.


Then, when (or if) Trump emerges as the clear favorite after the GOP primary voters have had their say, then the holdouts can endorse the certain winner with enough time to make it seem like they were in his corner all along. Any fence-sitting will have long been forgotten by transition time after the General Election, and Trump has been known to extend patronage olive branches to those who merit it. We’ll see how it goes.


The folks who aren’t yet prepared to declare public backing of Trump typically cite the possibility that a Trump declaration would instantly send Democrats into overdrive trying to defeat Republican congressional and senate candidates in 2022 because said politicians are secret Trump stooges and therefore need to be defeated now or else “democracy” could lie in the balance. It’s stupid, but what else would you expect from Democrats?


But there’s also the other side of the coin – namely, that Trump jumping into the 2024 race would energize millions of skeptical conservatives to vote for supportive Republicans rather than just sit it out like they’d done for most of their lives. I personally recall meeting a number of people in 2020 who indicated they – or someone they knew – were voting for the first time because of Trump and the necessity of defeating the Democrats.


It shouldn’t be ignored that Trump attracted about ten million more voters in 2020 than he did in 2016, and that’s even allowing for the multitude of Democrats’ cheating efforts, scare tactics, phony Post Office mailbox removal schemes, Zuckerbucks, mail-in balloting, COVID absurdities and any other reason that led to senile Joe Biden somehow coming out ahead in the electoral college.


The elites may not like it – or admit to it – but the Republican party doesn’t feature another person or leader who can draw out the base like Trump can. Put it this way, you’re not going to plaster Mitch McConnell’s face on a campaign ad and expect conservatives to be motivated to contribute, campaign, work or vote for the Republican candidates in their district.


Trump brings out the “marginal” vote, which will be crucial in down-ballot state and local races as well. Most people invariably vote straight party ticket, so arguably all GOP candidates stand to benefit from an early Trump announcement. (Naysayers would argue that just the opposite is true as well, but how much overall enthusiasm will there be for independents to vote for status-quo guaranteeing Democrats?)


The Republican establishment’s lack of early commitment on a possible Trump announcement reveals one more thing: they’re apprehensive of making him mad. Trump has never hesitated to name names when the occasion calls for it, and the leadership knows where their bread is ultimately buttered. They must carefully consider their every word where Trump is concerned, and that’s a good thing.


The 2024 presidential campaign – and the 2022 midterms – will unfold the way they will. Donald Trump may declare early, or he may not – or he might not run at all. In the meantime, there’s plenty of reason to concentrate on beating the Democrats at all levels in a few months’ time. Conservatives are anxious to make senile Joe Biden a de facto lame duck. Let’s make it happen!


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