During the 2016 Republican primary season I was among the many who entertained positive thoughts of Donald Trump becoming the nominee because I thought the American electorate was too smart to ever elect him. I got what I wished for; but I was wrong! As 2024 looms Donald Trump is again the favorite for the GOP nod but let’s not concede it to him just yet.
One of the dilemmas in politics is wishing for the other side to run an outrageously unqualified candidate in hope of an otherwise unlikely victory. If you look at the way the 2022 Senate races are shaping up you see several examples of that (i.e. Hershel Walker, and he is not alone) already. The down side is that some times that obviously bad candidate wins.
Among its many accomplishments the 1/6 Committee has put some dents in Trump’s armor. The thinking people within the GOP – and there are still a very few left – are beginning to think that perhaps a candidate without as much obvious baggage as Trump might be easier to elect in 2024. Don’t get me wrong, the diehard Trumpers are still with him and like Chris Hayes if I had to bet it now, I’d take Trump against the field in the primary. I have to wonder if some of the GOP big money people wouldn’t rather invest in someone else. After all, at their level it is not a donation; it is an investment and they expect a return on it like any other business venture.
I feel one of the major differences between top tier Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats to some degree care about the team winning; Republicans are self-centered. In 2020, with the exceptions of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders all the Democrats dropped out basically over a weekend. Good, bad or indifferent, it was a move to clear the way for Biden to defeat what most Democrats viewed as an unelectable Sanders in the primary and Trump in the general. I just don’t see the Republicans doing something similar in 2024.
If the damage to Trump continues – and we have every reason to believe that it will – the GOP wannabe field may again be large. It will split into the Trump and not Trump camps with all but Trump competing for the same primary voters. In that scenario Trump wins the primary. At this point – thankfully it’s early – the Democrats don’t appear to be going into the 2024 general strong so Trump could win in 2024.
Here is where another aspect of the be careful what you wish for scenario comes in: do you really think a Ted Cruz or Ron DeSantis would make a better president? If by some miracle the Republicans coalesced around an anti-Trump candidate they are among the most likely nominees.
Oh, and for all the Mike Pence fans out there consider two things. First his policies are well out of the mainstream. Second, he is no hero when it comes to 1/6. Remember he was in on the plot until he wasn’t at the eleventh hour. He looked for a way to do Trump’s bidding including going to Dan Quayle for advise. Dan Quayle, seriously! If Pence is your white knight, you really need to pay better attention!
I’ll close with a personal antidote. The scene is the family Thanksgiving dinner of 2016. The extended family is gathered around the table and one by one we say what we are happy for. I say that despite voting for Hillary Clinton I was happy that the Republicans ended up running Trump. He was evil but stupid and Cruz was evil and smart; a much more dangerous combination.
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