Sarah Longwell, the executive director of the Republican Accountability Project, writes in The New York Times Sunday Review on May 8 that, in essence, Donald Trump has already won. His hold on the Republican Party is complete and uncontested. All those who wish to challenge him for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2024 had better hope that he decides against running because if he runs, he will get the nomination and if he wins that, he has a better than even chance of winning the general given the level of incompetence being displayed by the leadership of the Democratic Party in Congress and in the White House.
Longwell cites the come-from-behind victory of J.D. Vance in the Ohio Republican Senate primary that determined the nominee to compete to fill the seat of the retiring Rob Portman, a rare middle of the road Republican. J.D. Vance is a former never-Trumper who got the religion and attracted the attention of The Donald and gleaned the priceless endorsement that seems to have translated into election gold. If Dr. Mehmet Oz, Trump’s choice in a similar Pennsylvania race to fill the also moderate Pat Toomey’s Senate seat (too close to call now), can win that election, the only conclusion to be drawn is that the power of Trump is undiminished. He is still a king maker and the once and future king.
Why does this sadden voters like me?
I believe that my former affiliation with the Democratic Party has been permanently damaged. The Dems no longer represent the wing of the party with which I identified. That would be the wing that was big on personal freedoms, for a strong defense, logically compassionate, and not characterized by a drive to the fringe. Scoop Jackson, Joe Lieberman, and Lyndon Johnson were politicians whose ideas I shared and they were all Democrats. Now, when even the supposed middle-of-the-roader Joe Biden seems beholden to the extreme left wing of his party, and as I said above, Donald Trump represents a personal philosophy that borders on hedonism, racism, xenophobia and managerial incompetence, where am I to go?
If, as I fear, 2024 shapes up as a replay of 2020 where Biden runs against Trump, count me out. Neither of these two guys represents my philosophy of government. The Democratic Congress cannot get anything done, although we shall see if the likely GOP Congress of 2023 can accomplish anything. The Supreme Court ascribes to the Constitution as if it were written last week instead of over 200 years ago. Does anyone have any common sense? Apparently not.
My main hypothesis of the cause for this desperate state of American politics is the regression to the mean among our leadership. The one word that characterizes Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump is mediocrity. Neither is insightful. Neither is intelligent. Both are way past their use by date. Is this the best of American leadership?
As this blog has said, this has become the common denominator in our culture when it comes to leaders. They just don’t seem to make them like they used to. Why Mr. Trump attracts his devoted followers speaks more to their longings and his ability to tap into their fears than to his vision for America.
Similarly, Mr. Biden cannot articulate what his America would look like other than Scranton, Pennsylvania.
But I do know that Mr. Trump has a firm grasp on the GOP and if the Dems continue to trip over themselves and Mr. Trump chooses to run for President again, he may well win or at least decide who does.
Regardless what Mr. Trump decides, he is still a force in American politics.