Even if Herschel Walker had won the Georgia Senate race, there still would be no path for Donald Trump to receive the Republican nomination for president.
Former President Donald Trump calls for suspending the Constitution, which inescapably means “the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”
Trump will become a pariah in his own party, no longer winning while attacking opponents.
His rationale is “massive fraud” in 2020, which is exemplified by the media suppression of the Hunter Biden story. Internet titans indeed slanted Google, Twitter, Facebook, and more to favor now-President Joe Biden. However, that’s an argument for reforming their autocracy, not repudiating our heritage. So-called “progressives” don’t take the Constitution seriously, but conservatives regard the Constitution as sacred, amended with care and deliberation. They despair of an imperial presidency, illustrated by their opposition to Biden’s unilateral cancellation of student loans.
The misconduct of Big Tech oligarchs was egregious. Fortunately, help (Elon Musk) is on the way. But I’ve been involved in many close elections, including some where biased media coverage likely affected the outcome. It’s unfortunate, but not illegal, and surely not unconstitutional for a private media firm, on its own, to be biased. (Besides, as a court-recognized expert witness on election outcomes, I know the difficulty in isolating a single variable, ceteris paribus.)
The real scandal is that the FBI used Big Tech to suppress social media discussion of the Hunter Biden story. For example, Twitter and Facebook were not acting on their own, but at the behest of the government, thus the government (by agency) was violating the First Amendment. That’s scandalous and unconstitutional, but Trump’s remedy is not to defend the Constitution, but rather to abrogate it.
To be sure, Trump has more grievances. His alleged collusion with Russia was a hoax, and the FBI did act improperly against him. (And notwithstanding Trump’s awful, gratuitous praise of Putin, his administration’s policy on Russia was tougher than Obama’s.) Trump claims ballot-box fraud, but characterizing his supporters as “election deniers” is hyperbole. Prominent Al Gore partisans said the 2000 election was “stolen”; Hillary loyalists derided Trump as an “illegitimate” president. And as for Trump’s impeachable conversation with Zelensky on investigating Hunter Biden before the presidential election, what about President Biden asking Saudi Arabia to withhold an oil price hike announcement until after the midterm election?
It’s no longer a matter of the mainstream media having an agenda to get Trump. He hands them raw meat.
Last week, Trump hosted two bigots — Ye (Kanye West) and Nick Fuentes — and thus reinforced the futility of his presidential bid. Trump should have stayed a mile away from Ye. He should have shown Fuentes the door. Regardless, when the Ye-Fuentes dinner went viral, Trump was handed a wonderful opportunity to attack both men for their virulent anti-Semitism, and he did not take it. (READ MORE: On Trump, Kanye, Biscuit, Jews, and Dinners)
“I love the Jewish people and Israel,” Trump might still have said. “I am repulsed by anti-Semitism. Bigotry has no place in America. One hopes that haters can change. But until they redeem themselves they will have no seat at my table.”
Ye and Fuentes obviously intended to embarrass Trump. Perhaps a disillusioned Trump staffer on the way out decided to sabotage Trump. Even a routine Secret Service check would have flagged Fuentes, if not as a direct security threat, then as a cautionary “person of interest.”
Trump, you say, should have staffed out who he might dine with. But he is not really the CEO he claims to be: he is often neither informed nor briefed and goes rogue. It was not the case this time, but sometimes being his own man has been an asset, as when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision opposed by “experts” who predicted a Third Intifada. Trump rejected the State Department’s flawed obsession with the “Palestinian problem” while he marginalized Iran as he reshaped the Middle East.
For Democrats, Trump is the gift that keeps on giving, as he is destroying his legacy.
And Jared Kushner was key to the resulting Abraham Accords and also to criminal justice reform, notably including Trump’s landmark reform, the First Step Act. But Jared is no longer aboard, as essentially telegraphed by his wife Ivanka Trump, who minutes after her father announced he is running again, said she loved her father but would not be involved in the campaign. She and Jared will not back a loser.
Trump’s characteristic lack of humility — he would not repudiate Ye or Fuentes: the former he had emboldened, the latter he had legitimized. Instead, Trump explained that Ye is a fan and brought along Fuentes. Trump is not an anti-Semite. But again, he remains for Democrats the gift that keeps on giving, as he is destroying his legacy, including all the good that he did: robust economic growth, energy independence, secure borders, strong national defense, criminal justice reform, the Abraham Accords, and confronting China as our primary enemy. In a single term, he appointed 234 judges, including three to the Supreme Court. He accomplished much that I admire. Yet, he makes any election a referendum not about policy, but about himself. He cost Republicans control of the U.S. Senate twice — first two years ago and again last month. The Walker loss was unnecessary. In Georgia and elsewhere, alternative conservative candidates (unacceptable to Trump) would have won control of the Senate.
Trump is not in office and that power is gone. Senate and House Republicans no longer fear recrimination from him. With his declining political strength, Trump cannot plausibly threaten to “primary” a Republican critic. The Wall Street Journal conservative editorial page has led the way against Trump; conservative columnists and television and radio personalities are now becoming part of Trump’s inescapable downward momentum.
Critics blame Trump for the poor Republican showing in the midterms. They accuse Trump of requiring candidates to pass a litmus test of putting loyalty to him above their viability in a general election. Yet the media demands a litmus test of Republicans — elected and candidates — to renounce Trump, or else.
Trump has been written off many times, you say.
It is different this time. He is not president and there is no need for elected Republicans to favor him in order to support his policies. Yes, his populism has brought many converts, including Hispanic and black voters and blue-collar workers, and he motivates his hardcore base to vote; but he also in effect recruited many for the other side, energizing even low-propensity young voters against Republicans. On net balance, he is an albatross. (READ MORE: And Now for a Painful 2024 Decision That Republicans Will Celebrate for a Generation)
Trump was elected in 2016 because Hillary Clinton arrogantly took for granted (stopping polling, pulling resources) certain battleground states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Earlier, Trump was a creation of CNN and only later Fox News. He won the nomination by winning a plurality in several states against many candidates, each of whom successively withdrew, always too late. The winner-take-all rules were created by party bosses to assure Jeb Bush the nomination, but backfired in favor of Trump. The Republican National Committee may now change the rules against a Trump plurality, but that risks a divided party for the eventual nominee and also deprives that nominee of closing the deal well before the convention.
Republicans will vote overwhelmingly for Trump against a Democrat, but not for Trump against another Republican. An initially crowded field will dissipate sooner rather than later, as one candidate — not Trump — becomes the most viable. All polls will show that Trump is the weakest in a general election, and even diehard Trump supporters will be increasingly pragmatic. The largest donors already have deserted Trump. Internet small donors will eventually settle on a few candidates and then one whose policies are not that indistinguishable from Trump, but who is without his baggage, which — despite the unprecedented witch-hunt against him — may include at least one plausible, legitimate indictment/prosecution.
Trump will continue to lash out … at Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, et. al. Trump will become a pariah in his own party, no longer winning while attacking opponents with humor, but losing while on defense and with venom.
Many Republican insiders fear that Trump, if he is not the nominee, will run as an independent, thus assuring that the Democrats remain in power. In fact, Trump’s third-party gambit in a general election would help, for example, the reliably conservative Ron DeSantis to be seen implicitly as a triangulated centrist. Also, remember in 1968 when segregationist George Wallace ran for president as an independent and was supposed to hurt Nixon? It turned out that his supporters were mainly Democrats, typically blue-collar, and opponents to the Vietnam War.
In a three-way race in November 2024, Trump could well end up taking more votes from the Democrat.
That’s assuming Trump doesn’t drop out next year.
Arnold Steinberg is the author of Whiplash! From JFK to Donald Trump.