A quick glance at the calendar this morning reveals that today is the last day of July, 2023. For parents of school-aged children, the relatively quick passage of the hot season means
there’s (likely) only three weeks of summer “vacation” left until the young impression-ables head back to the classroom for another school year of (hopefully) learning and maturing.
For politics watchers, the conclusion of another month and the beckoning of what promises to be the beginning of the “real” presidential primary campaign season is a welcome change from what’s proven to be a fairly stagnant quarter of little movement among the frontrunners in either party along with the mundane presence of a number of candidates who’ve yet to prove they belong in the national conversation.
As most people realize, the first 2024 Republican candidates’ “debate” is slated to be held three weeks from Wednesday (August 23rd) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For most of the hopefuls, the chance to finally appear on stage with all the major players at the same moment and answer questions regarding the salient issues of this year’s movement is the potential breakthrough opportunity they’ve been searching for since announcing their campaigns.
For others, such as race frontrunner Donald Trump, it’s still not clear whether he even intends to participate in the event. Somehow, the prospect of appearing among a collection of political wannabes (a.k.a., Trump’s GOP competitors, in his estimation) isn’t enticing to the lifelong real estate developer, reality TV star and first-time politician-turned former commander in chief. The mystery of Trump’s involvement will take care of itself.
Several of the candidates have already met the qualifying criteria for inclusion in the made-for-TV forum. A few others are still in the running. In a piece titled “Seven Republicans made the August debate — but the stage is far from set,” Zach Metellaro and Steven Shepard reported at Politico last week:
“The August Republican debate is the first big chance for Donald Trump to face his rivals — if he decides to show up. Trump and six of his rivals have already met the qualifications to make the stage. How many more will join them — and whether so many candidates will qualify that the Republican National Committee will need to hold two debates to accommodate them all is still up in the air.
“A spokesperson for the party committee did not respond to questions about what, exactly, would trigger a second night of debates, which the party raised as a possibility in its rules. But there is some precedent: In 2016, some low-polling Republican hopefuls were relegated to a so-called ‘kiddie table’ debate that took place before the main show. And in 2020, Democrats randomly divided up their 20-person field for their first debate over two nights.
“The candidates who’ve already cleared the polling and fundraising thresholds to make it, according to POLITICO’s tracking: Trump, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Chris Christie and Doug Burgum.”
Who? Huh? Doug Burgum? Is he Canadian?
The last name listed being the biggest surprise considering even seasoned politics observers (outside the upper Midwest, that is) are still getting to know who Burgum even is, much less devoting precious mental energy to deciding whether the obscure man merits a vote vis-à-vis the seasoned Trump or the more well-established not-Trump names in the top five or six competitors.
In their report, the Politico writers detailed the chances of each Republican making the stage, suggesting that several are encountering difficulty meeting both the polling and minimum donor threshold. Creative – and wealthy -- Burgum apparently offered $20 gift cards to anyone who would donate a buck to him online, essentially making a mockery of the rules in the process. Which just goes to show how much a lectern on the red, white and blue stage is really worth to these fame seekers. To someone like Trump, who has all the campaign money he could ever want along with enough fame for several lifetimes and gravitas to take up the entire show by himself, being included in the program doesn’t mean a thing. If anything, the Republican powers-that-be at party headquarters must be begging the frontrunner to be there, worried about the donors who won’t be sending in their coin to the main party coffers if the poohbahs can’t convince their “star” to help them with the effort.
For his part, Trump appears content to make a few media appearances, travel to different MAGA-friendly events around the country, post a lot on his TRUTH SOCIAL account and generally bask in the limelight of a large lead in the primary race. The Joe Biden Justice Department is keeping the establishment media busy with fresh rumors of new Trump entanglements and much of the coverage involves court dates, lawyer statements and lots and lots of liberal commentators forecasting doom for the man’s 2024 prospects at some undetermined date.
Meanwhile, Democrats are going back-and-forth about senile Joe Biden’s age issues, all the while denying they’re even contemplating replacing the current duo at the top. Biden’s done a number of speeches touting his “Bidenomics” agenda, promising to “finish the job!”, while ignoring the fact that nearly three-quarters of the country believes the nation is on the wrong track.
Democrats have already announced that they won’t hold any debates of their own despite outsider Robert F. Kennedy Jr. having launched a challenge to Biden and the party legacy politician polling at somewhere around twenty-percent, which isn’t chump change.
One wonders how the Biden handlers can keep sending poorly prepared Karine Jean-Pierre out before the White House Press Corps to repeat the tired and false line that the “Big Guy” didn’t speak with his son about the family corruption ring nor knew anything about the specifics. Gone is the conjecture from earlier this year that senile Joe would be ensnared in his own classified document scandal or that there would be serious intra-party debate on who to nominate for 2024. Instead, Democrats would much rather talk about Trump. Will it backfire on them again?
Now that it at least appears we’re heading into a different phase of the campaign, it’s appropriate to look back at what has happened – and what’s not happened – in the past few months to change the race and influence opinions.
Most strikingly, it’s interesting to note that Trump’s lead has endured and even grown. Harken back to the latter months of last year when American political commentators were solely focused on the 2022 federal midterm elections with a particular emphasis on those races that Trump was personally involved with, such as in Pennsylvania, which featured the disastrous loss of a senate seat to Democrat John Fetterman, a candidate so debilitated from a stroke that he couldn’t even respond to verbal questions.
If there was any doubt left that Democrats would prefer a rubberstamp vote for leftism to anyone with ideas and a liberty-based platform, it was erased by last year’s Keystone State election.
Republicans did manage to wrest control of the federal House of Representatives away from Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, but ended up losing close senate contests in Nevada, Arizona, Georgia (all pick-up chances) – and Pennsylvania. The pundit class blamed Trump for the GOP’s lack of fortune, even though his name wasn’t on any ballot. Trump didn’t do himself any favors by suggesting that the Republicans’ pro-life messaging cost them seats.
At any rate, conservatives wondered whether Trump’s 2024 candidacy would eventually fizzle out. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis was said to be considering a run to challenge the former president, and some polls had the successful conservative Sunshine State boat-rocker within striking distance. Trump critics predicted that the previous Republican nominee would get trounced by senile Joe if there were to be a rematch, and that eventually the multitude of investigations and scandals would scare off the “our only cause is victory” voter bloc in the GOP.
None of this has taken place. Trump regularly cites poll numbers demonstrating his strength with likely Republican voters and none of the other candidates – including DeSantis himself – have been able to establish themselves as credible threats to Trump’s hold on the minds of conservatives and populists. The obvious government-fostered decline created by Biden has bolstered Trump’s argument for claiming he’s the best one/only one who could get the country turned around again.
Here's thinking Trump will probably come to his senses and show up for the debate in a few weeks and he’s certain to be given a preponderance of time by the organizers to say whatever he feels like saying, both in posed questions and in rebuttal format. I’d like to see Trump speak to how he plans to convince congressional Democrats (or some of them) to fix immigration, reform the bureaucracy, take a realistic position towards the Ukraine/Russia war – and to give up their obsession with the January 6 “tourism riot”.
Further, will Trump’s Republican rivals bow to the inevitable and leave the race – and endorse Trump – if the polls don’t show real movement in their favor in the next couple months? With Trump’s backers pretty much set in stone, what could possibly dislodge them? It certainly won’t be any of the Merrick Garland in-Justice Department’s witch hunts. And Trump’s personal life has already been so thoroughly explored… there’s nothing left to discover.
Voters are ready for the campaign to get going. Will we finally see some movement?
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2024 presidential election