In the before times, Bill Buckley would claim that he could know everything about a man’s politics based on his opinion of Israel and abortion. These were clarifying issues that did not easily allow for nuance or ambivalence. If you had any politics at all, you had an opinion on these issues. To some degree it is still true, but the clarifying issue of this age is Donald Trump. You cannot engage in politics at any level without having a position on the most famous pitch man in history.
All politicians, once they become famous, evoke strong opinions. This is due to the hive mindedness of the ruling class. For them, the friend-enemy distinction has come to dominate every aspect of their being. They have imposed this binary mindset on the culture so everyone, even the least informed, feels they must have a strong opinion on everyone and everything that is in the news. These opinions are moral signifiers that users wear like badges to indicate group affiliations.
Trump is something different. His biggest fans can and often do talk about his many faults as a politician. They can list all of the failures of his administration, while also praising him as a man and president. Many have fallen into a cult-like trance, but most of his fans are clear-eyed about the reality of the man. Despite his many faults and failures, they remain loyal to him because of what he represents. He is the ultimate protest candidate for people not allowed to protest.
For dissidents he has mostly been an amusing bull in the China shop, creating havoc among the beautiful people. Lots of people on this side foolishly thought he was going to be a something other than Donald Trump once he got into office, so they are still a bit salty about Trump, but they did enjoy the show. Others saw Trump as a chaos agent who created havoc in the enemy camp. The demise of conservatism was underway, but Trump swung a wrecking ball through it.
Last night Trump made it official. He will be running for president in 2024 and he is the prohibitive favorite to be the Republican nominee. The usual suspects are now rushing out to play their role in the drama. Here is state media making sure the drones in their cult know that Donald Trump hates democracy. The yesterday men of conservatism are doing their same old act. Then you have the moral panic crowd promising to be as ridiculous as ever.
Many on this side of the great divide are not thrilled by this. Again, some are still salty over falling for the god-empower stuff. Others, like RamZPaul, think Trump is too old and want someone younger. Ron DeSantis is half Trump’s age and seems to hold most of the same views as Trump. Having a young and more predictable version of Trump has obvious appeal. DeSantis has also shown that he understands government and could possibly get something done as president.
The other issue with the reboot of the Trump franchise is that his act feels dated now, like a now out of clothing style. When Trump bulldozed his way through the primaries and then the Clinton campaign, it was hilarious because it was refreshing to see someone give these people the business. His name calling and snide comments are not as funny now. His targets are just as loathsome, maybe more so, but Trump’s attacks just lack the same punch as 2016.
American politics is not kind to second acts. Pat Buchanan had a great run in 1992 but was largely ignored in 1996. Ron Paul had a similar run in 2008, but his 2012 reboot was a flop. Ross Perot is another example. Trump stands out because he won the primary and the general election, but like his populist predecessors, he will face strong headwinds from an audience not fond of reboots and sequels. That and the GOP will call in their vote counters this time around.
That is the critical question for dissidents. Is it better that they steal the 2024 election from Trump or is it better that they steal it from someone else? What happens if the GOP assembles their dream ticket of Nikki Hailey and Tim Scott only to see the magic of mail in votes hand the election to Biden? That is the other piece of the puzzle that has been ignored. It now appears likely that Joe Biden will be the first zombie to top the ballot for a major party.
On the other hand, what if the GOP rigs their primary this time and they assemble their dream ticket despite strong opposition from the voters? Pulling shenanigans on DeSantis or someone else would not get much attention. If they do this to Trump, it will be a disaster for the party. Given the corruption and incompetence of party leadership, this is a very possibility. Keep in mind that Democrats did this to install Joe Biden as their nominee in 2020, so it a strong possibility.
There is plenty to chew on for dissidents with regards to Trump 2.0, but now the debate must shift from whether he should run to how best to take advantage of it. Trump made the call and he will no doubt spend 2023 barnstorming the country doing rallies and media events to keep himself in the news. As with 2016, this has to be viewed as nothing more than an opportunity to change some minds. Who knows? Maybe Kanye West will join him on the campaign trail.
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