In January of 2020, the prospects for our country were looking good. Under Donald Trump––a populist outsider who galvanized the voters whose interests and concerns the bipartisan political establishment either ignored or dismissed––our future was promising.
From the beginning of his administration, Trump had started fulfilling his campaign promises to fix the problems that troubled his constituency, such as a porous border, free-loading allies, China’s economic predation, and feckless globalist shibboleths like the “rules-based international order” that under the globalist Barack Obama gave us the Munich-class appeasement of Iran with the nuclear deal, and the economically poisonous Paris climate accord, putting the interests of the globalist Davoisie over our own national interests and security.
Looking ahead back then, it seemed that a booming economy, record low minority unemployment, energy independence, our country’s restored prestige abroad, and three Constitutionalist Supreme Court Justices all pointed to a likely second term for Trump.
Then Covid happened. Reckless mitigation protocols like shutting down schools and the economy created the kind of crisis wannabe tyrants never let go to waste. More specifically, the lockdowns provided a rationale for multiplying mail-in ballots, which are so prone to corruption that only one-third of nations holding regular elections allow them.
We don’t know for a fact that these unusual circumstances contributed to the election of a notorious political mediocrity and addled serial grifter. But that doesn’t mean it’s a fact that the election was clean. The unseemly haste and vehemence with which the Rhino and NeverTrump “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” Republicans announced that the election was completely legitimate was itself suspicious, given the numerous anomalies of the campaign and election, and the “trout in the milk-pail” circumstantial evidence like ballot harvesting––after all, you may not know who put the trout there, but you know for sure it didn’t swim into it by itself.
At any rate, Trump was indeed the victim of egregious political malfeasance and corruption that made election fraud more believable in the case of the “by any means necessary” progressive Dems:
- The Dems had weaponized the FBI and DOJ to peddle the Russia collusion hoax, and a Democrat House held multiple show-trial hearings and staged two impeachments that criminalized political differences.
- The political establishment and media were despicably unfair to Trump, indulging preposterous double-standards like “election denier,” an epithet never applied to two noisy and bitter “deniers” like Hillary Clinton and Georgia’s Stacey Abrams.
- The Dem House made preposterous charges of fomenting an “insurrection” on January 6, based on specious evidence and hear-say, with the committee stacking the deck to make sure no Republican could cross-examine dubious witnesses.
- The bankrupt media, dead-tree and social, before the election colluded with the FBI to keep hidden the bombshell scandal of Hunter Biden’s laptop, which is filled with evidence of the Biden family corruption––a huge in-kind contribution to Biden’s campaign.
All despicable, all true. But once the election was over save for the formality of recording the electoral college votes, all those legitimate grievances were in the past, where Trump should have left them. His obsessive harping, like the Ancient Mariner, on the 2020 election grew tiresome and annoying for many voters. Then there’s Trump’s throwing his support only to those Republican midterm candidates who soothed his “stolen election” pique. Even though the charge of electoral fraud could be true, Trump’s constant dwelling on it when nothing could change the outcome put off many voters and helped to drain what should have been an electoral tsunami for the GOP.
Nor did Trump’s cheesy publicity stunts like hawking his “official Donald Trump Digital Trading Card collection” comprising “limited edition cards featuring amazing ART of my Life & Career,” give him much gravitas for a run in 2024. Neither did a lunch with notorious anti-Semites Kanye West and Nick Fuentes. Then there’s his tin-eared statement that the contested outcome of the 2020 election “allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” Sounding like a “living Constitution” progressive isn’t a winner for conservatives.
Even more oddly, Trump began the new year by blaming the Republicans’ disappointing midterm election results on their “mishandling” of the “abortion issue” by not allowing exceptions like rape. But as Robert Spencer pointed out, not one Republican candidate in November ran or “firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother,” as Trump claimed. Such comments suggest an effort to deflect attention from Trump’s failed midterm candidates.
These unforced errors, along with the House committee’s recommendation that the DOJ should indict Trump, and the release of six-years of his tax-records, have contributed to perceptions that he is damaged political goods. As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, polls are starting to notice: “By 2-1, GOP and GOP-leaning voters now say they want Trump’s policies but a different standard-bearer to carry them. While 31% want the former president to run, 61% prefer some other Republican nominee who would continue the policies Trump has pursued.”
Worse, Trump’s gaffes and legal problems have made him look like a sore loser, and that’s politically toxic. The fact is, as Hillary Clinton learned, Americans don’t like losers, especially ones who continually whine about their losses.
Again, there’s no question that what has happened to Trump hasn’t been fair, and in some cases has been patently illegal. But democratic politics since the ancient Athenians has never been fair, for it is often based on subjective perceptions rather than objective achievements. No matter how many Trump policies have benefitted voters, many have been forgotten in the perception, fair or not, that he is a self-absorbed loser.
And don’t forget, in democracies, the most important question is, “What have you done for me lately?” The future, not the past, is what motivates voters. That’s how Trump won in 2016: he was a fresh set of eyes on our problems that under political guildsmen like his predecessor Barack Obama and his opponent Hillary Clinton, had been allowed to fester.
All this brings us to contemplate the next few years, about which Biden’s two years of abject failures have left us pessimistic. All threaten the integrity of our Constitutional order, our prosperity, and our freedoms:
- The “woke” assault on our families, sexual morality, history, national heroes, popular culture.
- The school curricula polluted by crude, unscientific racist fads and anti-science transsexual propaganda.
- The disastrous Covid mitigation protocols, about which Hoover senior fellow Scott Atlas writes, “professors with prestigious titles and affiliations denied scientific data about risks, effective mitigation and biological protection,” and “who spouted politicized opinion as if it were objective truth and demonized views counter to their preferred narrative.”
- The war on police, and the rogue prosecutors filling the streets with violent felons.
- The suicidal war on carbon that has left our electric grid vulnerable to severe weather and the machinations of our rivals.
- The censorship hollowing out our First Amendment.
- The inflation and a looming recession brought on by feckless spending and metastasizing debt.
- The de facto amnesty policy on the southern border that is allowing millions of unvetted illegal aliens and tons of dangerous drugs to be distributed throughout the country.
- The foreign policy of retreat coupled with an involvement in Ukraine, now costing $100 billion with little explanation for why, and no plan for how this stalemated conflict will end short of a dangerous escalation.
We need bold new policies to slow down our country’s suicide, and a fresh face younger than 60 and untainted by the D.C. company-town’s failures.
But right now, Donald Trump isn’t that fresh face anymore. His persona, policies, and in-your-face personality once were exciting and new compared to the old blue-suit and blow-dried hair Republican company men who many conservatives believed, fairly or not, had serially assumed the preemptive cringe in the face of the Democrats’ assaults on Constitutional rights and freedoms. Now Trump seems predictable and stale, an old champion who’s past his prime.
Again, Trump and his supporters will dispute that assessment. But its truth is not the point. The Roman poet Vergil wrote, “They have power because they seem to have power.” Perception, especially in a media world saturated with information, opinions, and images––an ever-shifting kaleidoscope spinning 24/7/365––frequently decides elections, not facts, truth, or principles.
Ultimately, however, what I or anybody else thinks is not the point. This spring the presidential campaign will rev up, and in 2024 the voters will decide who will represent the Republican Party. Will Donald Trump catch lightning in a bottle once more? I wouldn’t count him out. But in 2016, Trump was the new kid in town, facing off with one of the most unpleasant and mediocre establishment candidates since World War II. There’s a good chance that won’t be the case in 2024. There’s a governor in Florida who’s young and accomplished and has shown he will fight against the “woke” lunacy of our times. Dems aren’t rooting for Ron DeSantis the way they are for Donald Trump.
Obviously, a lot can happen in two years, most of it unforeseen. Trump himself in 2016 proved that banal truth. But in the end, we the people will make the choice, and for good or ill, we the people will have to live with it.