The Case against Trump 2024
There are many explanations for Trump's spectacular success in the 2016 election and during the first 30 months of his presidency. There are as many explanations for his descent into more spectacular
Using Occam's Razor — "plurality should not be posited without necessity" — my view is that Trump has two traits that account for both: Trump is amazingly stubborn and breathtakingly naïve.
Entering and winning the 2016 election required both traits. Occasionally, not knowing the odds against success is an asset. That occasion has passed. Over time, naïveté results in failure. Trump's failures continue piling up.
1. COVID. For 30 months as president, Trump successfully implemented standard conservative policies, which were successful, as all of us knew they would be. Even liberals know that conservative policies work. They just have a counterproductive agenda.
COVID provided a novel challenge requiring adaptation. Trump fell for the Fauci-Birx agenda. Two weeks to slow the curve became a forever nightmare on Trump's watch. As disagreements mounted, Trump left Fauci and Birx in place. They continued to spread the "shut down" mantra. Trump started a runaway train and didn't stop it.
Most performers and politicians know the risks of overexposure. Trump did not. He appeared virtually every night on camera with his enemies while facing a hostile press corps. He gave his enemies ample opportunities to successfully make him look foolish.
Two governors took a different path. Kemp in Georgia and, to a greater degree, DeSantis in Florida did not shut down. They took criticism, but, unlike Trump, they rose above it. Today, Trump is a critic of both men as he stubbornly defends his failure.
There are lessons here. Some people, in this case Kemp and DeSantis, can deal with novel problems. They can also overcome a hostile press.
Trump's record poses two problems. One is that he could make a similar mistake again. The greater problem is that a real crisis could arise that demands drastic action. If DeSantis said we have a major problem, everyone, including liberals, would believe him. But Trump would be the little boy who cried wolf.
2. Elections. When asked if the 2020 votes were fairly counted, my response is "I don't know, and neither do you." The numerous anomalies make the answer unknowable. What we do know is that the often illegal changes in the election laws in several states mean that the election was neither free nor fair. For example, the mass mailing of ballots invites votes from people who either are dead or have moved away. The bigger problem is that mass mailing denies everyone a secret ballot. A ballot-harvester who knows you have a ballot could be an employer, a union leader, or a gangbanger.
Trump used these anomalies to naïvely insist that he be installed as president and that Kari Lake be installed as governor of Arizona — too little, too late. That talk more than anything else will cost Trump the 2024 election, by costing him independent voters, who view these demands as attempts to override the Constitution
The time to fight voting problems was before the election. For example, Florida's increased population meant redistricting. DeSantis vetoed two weak legislative efforts. He finally forced his own new set of districts on the Legislature, which resulted in four additional GOP congressmen. Had DeSantis not taken action, the current GOP House majority would be one vote. DeSantis acts when his actions produce results. Trump rages, with acts that are too little and too late.
3. Endorsements. Trump made many endorsements in 2022. Many of his people won, but in the marquee races that determined a Senate majority, almost all of Trump's picks spectacularly failed. In Pennsylvania, Oz lost to a zombie. In Georgia, Walker lost to a slum landlord, while all the other Republicans running for statewide office won. In Ohio, J.D. Vance won but by significantly fewer votes than the rest of the GOP slate. We all know about the losses in Nevada, New Hampshire, and Arizona.
Trump based his endorsements on people loyal to him and on being well known in areas other than politics. Trump's endorsements had a negative effect in spite of their prior notoriety. Within a GOP primary, Trump's blessing carries weight. In the general election, it is counterproductive. For Trump, and the rest of us, to pretend otherwise is naïve.
4. Support. Trump believes he can win in 2024 in spite of losing important support he had in 2020. Evangelical Christians are now withdrawing support from him. Most of his financial supporters oppose him. Trump had some media support from the Rupert Murdoch empire, which includes Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the N.Y. Post. Murdoch now says he and his publishing empire would support a Democrat over Trump. Trump still thinks he can win. I hope the rest of us have outgrown believing in fairy tales.
My admiration for Trump's accomplishments is on record. In one article, I swept away all the standard criticism. Unlike Rupert Murdoch, I will vote for Trump if he is the Republican nominee. But my vote won't make up for all the losses.
It's true that some polls have Trump beating Biden. We would be naïve to believe that the Dems will run Biden in 2024. They'll find a better candidate.
It's time we acknowledge Trump's contributions and then cut him loose. A loss in 2024 will undo all the good that the first 30 months of Trump's presidency bequeathed us. That doesn't need to happen. We can win — just not with Trump.