“Do You Miss Me Yet?”

“Do You Miss Me Yet?”: Trump vs. The GOP At CPAC


Leonard Zwelling


That was Mr. Trump’s question to the gathered loyalists in Orlando on February 28. “Do you miss me yet?”

As usual, Mr. Trump is confusing himself with the identity of the Republican Party. Except maybe it’s no mistake. In an unofficial straw poll of the conservative delegates to the Conservative Political Action Conference, fully 68% of the responders want Mr. Trump to be the party’s nominee for president in 2024. As Ted Cruz said, “Donald J. Trump ain’t going anywhere.”

This may be good news for the red-hatted faithful, but bad news for those who might want to see a legitimate conservative agenda forwarded to lead the GOP in the future. The Republicans have a severe problem. Most of the leadership has determined that the party cannot win nationally without the Trump followers and so have pledged their allegiance to the MAGAots. Unfortunately, this thinking has caused the GOP to lose the national vote in every election since 2004. Remember, Trump has never won the popular vote in either of his bids for the White House. The Electoral College saved him in 2016 and undid him four years later. My conservative friends who voted for Mr. Trump both times ought to consider this as they begin their plans for 2022, 2024 and beyond. An old failed leader in his 70’s is not the best bet for a brighter tomorrow for the GOP. In this lies the rub for the party. How do they dump Trump and retain his voters?

The only way that will happen in the foreseeable future is for Trump to make it so and that is highly unlikely. As long as The Donald lives and breathes, the GOP is tied to him. That may be fine for primary contests and it may indeed be the way that Donald Trump gets his revenge against the members of Congress who voted to impeach or convict him, but in the end, it is no formula for taking back the White House. The litmus test will be in 2022. If the weight of Mr. Trump’s endorsements swing the House or Senate toward the GOP, then maybe he really can stage a comeback. Much will depend on the state of the economy after Mr. Biden gets his blowout Covid Relief Bill passed. It seems that we are about to find out whether $6 trillion in government money pumped into the economy over a year or so is enough to jump start that economy even as Wall Street flourishes anyway.

The Republican Party is deciding whether it wishes to try to win by turning back the clock to the glory days of 2016 with anti-immigrant, anti-science sentiment embodied in the likes of Mr. Trump, Governor Ron DeSantis (FL) or maybe Governor Kristi Noem (SD) or if it will regroup behind figures like Liz Cheney, Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake and catch up with reality.

I certainly hope the GOP can find the will to dump Trump and the know-nothings in the party and return to the mainstream of Sasse, Flake, Cheney, Murkowski, Collins and Romney. I would like to see more national contests fought over real policy differences rather than cults of personality and conspiracy.

If those of you who voted for Mr. Trump need more reason to promote the saner wing of the party than the riot on January 6, maybe you can consider the nonsense going on in Orlando, reject it, and promote those GOP candidates more in touch with reality.

Here’s a bulletin. Not only did Mr. Trump lose in 2020, he lost the popular vote in 2016, too. He clearly does not represent the majority view of Americans and maybe not even of the thinking members of the GOP. The sooner the Republican Party renders Mr. Trump to emeritus status and picks a real leader who can compete with what is looking like an ever more liberal agenda from the Dems, the better it will be for those of us in the middle. We need a choice. A good choice. We haven’t had one in quite some time.

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