Were You Better Off with Trump?

In the final days before what appeared to be a neck-and-neck 1980 election, Republican Ronald Reagan landed a haymaker against President Carter by asking a simple question: "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"  Americans were not, and Reagan ended up beating the incumbent Democrat in a drubbing — carrying forty-four states, taking 489 electoral votes, and winning the popular vote by nearly ten percent.  Donald Trump's 2016 campaign slogan — Make America Great Again! — will be remembered as one of the most effective rallying calls in political history.  As we near what looks like his return to battle for the 2024 election, though, a potent six-word slogan reminiscent of Reagan's rhetorical thwack is inescapable: Were you better off with Trump?

Only one incumbent president before Trump ever won significantly more votes on the way to losing re-election.  That president, Grover Cleveland, left office in 1889 amid allegations that fraudulent balloting in several states had secured his opponent Benjamin Harrison's victory, and four years later, President Cleveland returned to the White House after decisively defeating Harrison in a rematch.  The 22nd and 24th president of the United States is the only man to serve two non-consecutive terms.  If that changes in 2024, it will reflect the fact that, as with Cleveland, President Trump did remarkably better with the electorate the second time around, only to be handed his walking papers.  

On paper, nothing about Trump's performance looked like anything other than a win.  Losing an election looks like the Romney/Ryan debacle in 2012, in which Obama actually lost five million votes from his 2008 haul but still defeated the unelectable Republican duds.  Trump, on the other hand, won more votes than any sitting president in U.S. history and took in roughly fifteen million more votes than Bush, McCain, or Romney could ever muster.  He won over ten million more voters than in his previous 2016 victory, won almost every traditional bellwether county in the country by double digits, and expanded his share of the electorate with women and minorities.  But for Biden being declared the winner by the press after four days of counting in a handful of battleground states, Trump's impressive gains in 2020 would have been heralded as a resounding endorsement from the American people.

That is the part of the 2020 election story that has always bothered me most.  If it were stolen, and I obviously believe it was (sorry, thought police), then the theft not only denied the American people their say in their own governance and saddled the country with a dangerous, corrupt, and cognitively declining stooge, but also unfairly recast widely successful Trump policies as having been rejected by the people.  That rewriting of history is as dangerous and consequential as the election fraud itself.  

In tort law, there's a doctrine known as res ipsa loquitur — "the thing speaks for itself" — which permits the inference of a negligent act even without direct evidence because no other plausible explanation exists.  The thing speaks for itself is how I've felt about the 2020 election.  Although I have been told ad nauseam by America's esteemed Expert Class that the last election was the most honestly conducted exercise in "democracy" to grace our shores, I still don't see anything but a brazen robbery conducted in broad daylight and covered up by a conspiracy of corporate news factories peddling falsehoods, state attorneys general and secretaries of state overlooking election lawbreaking, state and federal judges shutting down timely investigations, and a national Uniparty enthusiastically giving its stamp of approval for the whole sordid affair. 

Time Magazine admitted as much in its post-election boasting that "a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information," conspired to manipulate the election's outcome, as set forth in its detailed exposé hubristically titled "The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election."  That kind of blunt testimony certainly speaks for itself, as does the New York Times' long-belated admission that the Hunter Biden "laptop from hell" was real, even though its explosive contents were covered up by members of the Intelligence Community, the Department of Justice, mainstream news corporations, and social media companies in what Congressman Darrell Issa notes was "clearly a conspiracy" undertaken to get Biden elected. 

If journalistic admissions that the fix was in were not enough, continuing social media censorship of anyone pointing out the unlikelihood that Dementia Joe won fifteen million more votes than Obama did in 2012, combined with the January 6 show trials and congressional clown shows desperate to paint the Capitol breach as literally worse than 9/11 and the Civil War put together, has left me with the enduring feeling that the "ruling class" doth protest too much.  In fact, every time I see a card-carrying member of the Establishment Club vouching for the authenticity of the 2020 election, I am reminded of the scene in the brilliant comedy The Jerk (surely "canceled" out of existence by today's "woke" scolds) in which a bumbling gas station attendant played by Steve Martin accepts an obviously stolen credit card from a thief because his accomplice vouches for his friend's identity.  We couldn't possibly have had a stolen election in 2020 because all the very best people in America swear it was legitimate.  Okay, as long as we've got a voucher!

Far from the mere opinion of the "fringe minority" for whom I try to speak, a majority of the American people agree that the 2020 election was not on the up-and-up (a consensus that, while ignored by the mainstream corporate press, has only grown over time among Democrats, independents, and Republicans).

Here's the kicker, though: whether you believe that 2020 election fraud speaks for itself or you have absolute faith in "our precious democracy" because we've got a voucher, President Trump's 2020 performance was better than any Republican's in history.  That's his undeniable baseline regardless of how much NeverTrumping the NeverTrumps trumpet.  And a little over a year since O'Biden was installed in office, Donald Trump has only become more popular.  His favorability rating tops every national political figure.  He's leading potential primary opponents by forty points.  And he's beating President Braindead head-to-head by four points.  At the same time, 71% of Americans believe that the country is now headed in the wrong direction

Now, with all of that said, America will be asked repeatedly over the next two-plus years:

When trying to pay for gas, food, and other bare necessities, were you better off with Trump?

If trying to keep America out of foreign wars is important to you and your family, were you better off with Trump?

If you are worried about the future your children will inherit, were you better off with Trump?

If you are shocked by rampant censorship and "cancel" culture, were you better off with Trump?

If you are concerned about millions of illegal aliens destroying local communities, were you better off with Trump?

If you just desperately want America to be America again, were you better off with Trump?

You don't have to be Nostradamus to know how tilted toward Trump's favor those answers are going to be.  At some point, no matter how many institutions conspire to prevent his victory, the people clamoring for his return will be too much for the Expert Class to hide or overcome.  The country will be asked in Reaganesque fashion, "Are you better off today after four years of Biden?"  And Americans will answer by decisively re-electing President Trump in 2024.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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