’24 Wannabes +

Why do so many Republican office holders stay loyal to Trump? That question has perplexed me for some time and I’d like to explore it today.

Trump is not a lifelong Republican. In fact, he hasn’t been a Republican for that long. Despite rhetoric to the opposite Trump is not a political genius. He certainly isn’t very knowledgeable and I for one have seen no proof of genius. Over the years he has been a big money donor (including to many Democrats) but he is certainly far from the biggest or the only one. Recently most of his donations have been of the self-preservation variety and historically they have been in his self-interest or in the anticipation of creating favors owed.

He made several totally unsuccessful runs at the presidency prior to 2016, including as other than a Republican. 2016 was his only successful election (losing the popular vote by about 3 million). Even then it was rather close and certainly tainted to say the least. He got beaten fairly convincingly (by about 7 million) in the popular vote in 2020 – considering how polarized America is politically and that he was the incumbent – that says a lot.

The bottom line is he is far from a political juggernaut. So why the loyalty at least on the surface?

Racism is one of the three pillars holding up the current version of the GOP. The reality is that many could not believe their best candidate at the time, John McCain, lost to a Black man in 2008. Desperate, instead of adjusting their platform to become more appealing to the majority of Americans they doubled down on racism by letting the Tea Party take them over. Make no mistake; if Barack Obama had been white there would never have been a Tea Party. The talk of tax inequity was malarkey (as was proven under Trump) it was based mainly on racism.

The Tea Party has helped the GOP in many local and state level races but it failed to be enough in 2012. So, in 2016 they went full blown nutcase and ran Trump. A few things fell his way and he squeaked one out over insufficiently popular Hillary Clinton in 2016. In 2020 the GOP had no choice but top run the incumbent president and Trump lost to Joe Biden when the Democrats coalesced basically over one weekend in the primary to save America even if it was at the cost of several of their egos.

That’s most of the background but the initial question remains. Why? Today’s reality in the GOP is that they have let the inmates run the asylum for so long now that the inmates control it. On the state and local levels, a Republican cannot win the Republican primary without getting the Trump supporters out to vote for them. In a competitive race the general may well be another question but then, too often (via gerrymandering and other factors), the primary is decisive and then general little more than a formality.

While Republicans have struggled to win the popular vote for the presidency (which is just a “beauty contest”) think how badly they would get beat without the Tea Party and Trumper vote. By virtue of the electoral college that vote, if the distribution falls just right, can be the margin of victory.

That brings me to the 2024 Republican presidential wannabes. I firmly believe that if Trump wants the ’24 nomination it is his. It is also obvious that several other Republicans want it. I’ll just pick on four sitting Senators for this article: Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. All four are interestingly careful not to upset Trump. Cruz and Rubio were insulted (and I’m being kind) by Trump during the 2016 race yet have all but kissed his posterior since. Why? I feel that more than anything else they are hoping Trump will self-destruct between now and the 2024 convention and they can step into the nomination. In order to do that they have to avoid alienating the Trump base which is as much a cult as anything else. (Doubt me? Look at all the useful idiots who stormed the Capital on 1/6.)

In order to be a great leader you have to have political courage. (Think Harry Truman.) Often the right thing to do is not the most politically expedient at the time.

It is a fear of Trump’s base that keeps the ‘24 GOP wannabes (and many other Republicans) in line. Again, I reflect on 1930s Europe; it didn’t end well for the people of the cowardly blind followers.

This article was written well ahead of scheduled publishing in order to accommodate my travel plans.

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