Neither Trump Nor Never Trumpers - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Neither Trump Nor Never Trumpers
Donald Trump announces 2024 presidential bid, Nov. 15, 2022 (Fox News/YouTube)

Given a choice between squish and screwball, the Right prefers either to a Democrat.

Conservatives nonetheless might consider adapting to our nonbinary age by envisioning choice C, D, E, and beyond.

“America’s comeback starts right now,” Donald Trump explained last night at Mar-a-Lago. It felt more like the comeback starting was Donald Trump’s.

The subdued, funereal even, vibe felt so unlike those outdoor, raucous Make America Great Again rallies from 2016. Trump speculated that voters did not sweep Republicans into office last week because they do not yet fully feel the damage unleashed by the Biden administration. He predicted they would by 2024.

“In order to make America great and glorious again,” he explained about 20 minutes into the heavily scripted (for Trump at least) speech, “I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”

Trump’s ill-timed presidential announcement, occurring as the corpses of MAGA candidates still lay warm on the political battlefield and in anticipation of a must-win Senate race that Georgia conservatives do not want him to overshadow, spotlights why the 76-year-old’s support erodes even among conservatives who enthusiastically voted for him.

He puts his ego over our ideas.

He did so last year in Georgia, where he made support for his quixotic and unpopular attempt to block certification of the Electoral College vote a precondition of his support. Then he spoke for over 80 minutes, bizarrely claiming he really won a second term in a “landslide,” in an election-eve runoff rally in which he permitted the candidate he ostensibly came to help to speak for just over 80 seconds. Kelly Loeffler, looking like one strong-armed into it, started by saying she would vote to object to Joe Biden’s certification if elected senator, which elicited an “I’m glad I invited you up” by the president. He invited her up to speak at a rally for her. Hmmm.

The former president faces not just Democrats and independents almost wholly closed to him but a Republican electorate tepid on the idea of him running.

Needless to say Loeffler and David Perdue, made to look groveling and slavish by their supposed benefactor, lost two very winnable Senate seats, which gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate. Now Trump again upstages a Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia. Allowing Trump to wear white on someone else’s wedding day did profound damage during last year’s runoffs and this year’s midterms. Yet, last night he behaved the same way — his kind words for his former New Jersey Generals employee not offsetting the damage — with a crucial runoff occurring next month.

Should Herschel Walker feel thankful that Trump did not attack him as he did Ron DeSantis prior to the Florida governor coming before voters?

If Walker loses, a friendly-fire attack may come, as it did for losing Republican candidate Don Bolduc in New Hampshire. Trump throws candidates and staffers under the bus when the former lose and the latter leave. This behavior may prove cathartic for Trump, but the long-running act increasingly highlights two possibilities: 1. His horrible judgment in people 2. His profound disloyalty. (READ MORE from Daniel J. Flynn: 5 Reasons Why Republicans Failed in the Elections)

The latter makes the loyalty of his supporters appear so confounding. This loyalty stems in large part from the trauma-bonding that occurred after parts of the Justice Department and intelligence apparatus morphed into campaign auxiliaries for the Democrat Party. Their banana-republic injustices committed against Trump rightly elicited sympathy to such a degree as to bind supporters to him. The venom of the media, which truly assigns whom conservatives love by whom they hate, also enhances devotion. And, of course, many loathsome people loathe Trump. The man possesses the right enemies. Conservatives know this and love him for it.

“I didn’t need this,” he said last night. “I had a nice, easy life.” No truer words did he speak, and this very real sacrifice, too, binds supporters to him.

Conservatives owe Donald Trump gratitude for appointing three solid justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, cutting taxes and regulation, reorienting our foreign policy from war to peace, treating the border as a border, and serving as a walking, talking battering ram against woke constraints on freedom of speech. They do not owe him blinders for his ballooning the national debt $7.5 trillion, increasing the federal budget in each year of his presidency, and aggressively pursuing the loose money policies that witnessed him call Federal Reserve policymakers “Boneheads” for not bringing interests rates down to zero or below.

Of course, every Republican president, even Ronald Reagan, delivered a mixed bag on policy. Trump did better than most. He did worse than all in his conduct.

His boorish behavior during the first 2020 presidential debate in constantly interrupting his opponent, sore-loser response to falling short in the election by seven million ballots and 74 electoral votes, terribly embarrassing delayed reaction to the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, and repeated violation of Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment against not just Republicans but solid conservatives all served to chip away at his coalition. While Deep State dirty tricks and media dishonesty had already closed moderate minds to Trump, self-inflicted wounds peeled off conservatives.

Last week’s exit polls showing 58 percent of voters regarding him unfavorably to 39 percent who regard him favorably indicate the degree to which Donald Trump primarily motivates the Left, not the Right, to vote. Even on the right, Trump now looks terribly vulnerable. A YouGov poll taken after the Election Day debacle shows Republicans favoring Ron DeSantis over Trump as the 2024 nominee 42 percent to 35 percent. Other surveys, more suspect in that the Club for Growth, a group opposed to Trump, commissioned them, purport double-digit leads for DeSantis in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and New Hampshire. In other words, the former president faces not just Democrats and independents almost wholly closed to him but a Republican electorate tepid on the idea of him running.

Rejecting Donald Trump does not mean embracing the Bush-McCain-Romney incarnation of the Republican Party. A flawed vessel does not mean one must dump its contents down the drain. Other containers exist. One-sided “free” trade deals, amnesty for illegal aliens, a muscular Wilsonian foreign policy, and the aloofness to many of the concerns of blue-collar Americans that characterized the views of some of his presidential-nominee predecessors seem about as current to the Republican Party as monocles and rumble seats are to the broader culture. One of Trump’s most unsung accomplishments involves ridding the Republican Party of the bad ideas dragging it down.

Conservatives need not choose between the pursuit of empty victories or fidelity to a doomed old friend. They can pick a candidate with both ordered principles and an ordered personality.

Donald Trump can win the presidential nomination. He cannot in 2024 win the presidency.

Loyalty to losing is treason to beliefs.

Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website,   
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