Is Donald Trump Done?
Is Donald Trump done? Can Republicans ever again overcome the systematic election corruption Democrats have mastered?
If he’s fit in 2024, Trump can be reelected. Barring failing health, Trump still will have great, if not even greater appeal. That’s partly because of the damage Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will do to the country in the interim.
Even so, the 45th president will need to make significant adjustments if he hopes to overcome election corruption and become the 47th president.
Part of Trump’s appeal was that he spoke in absolute terms: Good vs. evil. Great. The best. Not merely better or not as bad. But good, great, best.
Such talk resonates with people longing for certainty in an uncertain world, and particularly in our postmodern woke world where the only certainty is that everything is uncertain.
But his absolutism, his unwavering certainty, cut both ways. He was seemingly incapable of nuance. And his mania for always (another absolute) being right too often disappointed the faithful while giving his antagonists ammunition to shoot down his claims. Proven wrong often enough, the absolutism begins to seem less like preaching the gospel and more like tyrannical dogma.
That brashness and, yes, arrogance, intuitively rubs many people the wrong way, as it should, and to their credit. But the same attitude and hardness was part of his secret to success, making him stronger in battle with less confident opponents and less vulnerable to equally strong-willed opponents.
Trump is a paradox in the mold of a Shakespearian character. A tragicomic character, a portrait of the limitations and defects of authority.
Even in defeat, he clung to his absolutism and certainty: “While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” he said, very much still in character.
Trump has no shortage of supporters, drawing more votes in his reelection bid than any president ever, yes, even more than Barack Obama. Had he attracted a greater portion of those who were offended by him, even Democrat cheating probably couldn’t have overcome him.
But Trump never was destined to attract #NeverTrumpers and left-wing loyalists. Had he tried by compromising his policies, he surely would have lost his base that turned out 75 million strong.
There was a segment of voters he might have attracted but apparently wasn’t willing to try. Those were the voters, and we all know many of them, to whom his policies were all but incidental, but to whom his persona was so distasteful they couldn’t hold their nose enough to prevent being repelled by his unpleasantness.
Arguably, these people could have been the easiest to convert. All it would have taken would have been a modicum of humility, a dose of kindness and grace. An apology and asking for forgiveness every now and then would have gone a long way to winning hearts and minds.
In short, had Trump simply appeared to have been nicer, he had the potential to pull together the largest, unbeatable constituency the nation has seen. Well, at least since Ronald Reagan carried 49 states in 1984.
Trump’s diehard supporters talk interminably about his kindness and his personal generosity, but it’s often exhibited when the cameras are off, and in one-on-one relationships. There’s a reason Democrats hawked their otherwise abominable alternative to Trump as the more “decent” candidate.
The next four years would be a good time for Trump to become more like the Christian he claims to be. Sanctification is literally transformative. And as believers all know, it’s supposed to show.
Perhaps tragically (or perhaps not) many Americans pick which candidate to vote for the way everyone picks friends. If they don’t like the guy, they don’t want anything to do with him.
Unfortunately, for the good of the nation, it would be better if voters picked their candidates to vote for the way they pick a plumber, or a heart surgeon, or an investment manager. He may be an SOB, but the more important thing is that he will fix the leak, get the heart beating and avoid poverty.
It will be more unfortunate yet, if in four years Trump runs without that attitude adjustment. It will certainly cost him votes, and if so, probably cost him reelection which will absolutely cost the nation in innumerable ways.
If in four years Trump doesn’t run again, Republicans need to learn the same lesson. It won’t be enough to nominate a Trump clone. To win, it will need to be a Trump policy clone with a Jimmy Stewart Mr. Smith Goes to Washington persona. That’s an unbeatable combination.
Of course, in the best of all worlds we would get the complete package, a kind, gracious, courteous, humble master of the political machinery with the right goals in mind. For Christians and conservatives, Ronald Reagan came closest.
Time will tell. In the meantime, y’all might say a prayer for #45.
Mark Landsbaum is a Christian retired journalist, former investigative reporter, editorial writer and columnist. He also is a husband, father, grandfather and Dodgers fan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org