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19 Nov, 2022 14:39

Donald Trump remains a potent political force despite the US midterm election results

The former president still stands the best chance of winning the Republican nomination
Donald Trump remains a potent political force despite the US midterm election results

Earlier this week, Donald Trump delivered a speech in which he announced that he is a candidate for the presidency in 2024, and it was something of a political tour de force. 

In fact, it may well be the most important speech delivered by an American politician in decades – because it marked Trump’s resurgence as a political leader, in the aftermath of the Republican Party’s disastrous showing in the recent midterm elections. 

In an era in which political speeches have been rendered virtually obsolete by social media, Trump has seemingly revived the traditional political address.

Not surprisingly, mainstream American media organizations have failed to appreciate the significance of Trump’s speech, and have written Trump off as a political force – on the basis of the dismal performances by Trump-endorsed candidates in the midterms.

Even Rupert Murdoch – once a keen Trump supporter – has now cast him aside.

The leading article on Trump’s speech in the New York Times this week was titled ‘Trump Announces 2024 Run, Repeating Lies and Exaggerating Record’ – and the ‘fact checkers’ at CNN and MSNBC have been working overtime to conclusively prove that Trump’s speech is full of false and misleading facts.

What utter nonsense! Since when have lies, exaggeration, and the misstatement of facts not been an integral component of American political discourse? Do Democrat politicians not engage in such practices?

Even more delusional are the conclusions that the mainstream media have drawn from the midterm election results – including the following:

  • Trump’s standing as a political leader has been destroyed because some candidates endorsed by Trump, who made much of his ‘stolen election’ lie – aptly described by Republican election strategist Karl Rove as “knuckleheads” – failed to win office;
  • Republican voters will no longer accept Trump as a credible presidential candidate;
  • the Republican Party is certain to select Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as its candidate for president in 2024;
  • because the ‘Trump era’ has now ended, American politics has ceased to be divisive and irrational, and American democracy has been miraculously ‘saved’.

Each of these conclusions is false and misguided.

This brings us to Trump’s remarkable Mar-a-Lago speech itself.

Trump’s speech has three components: A description of the current state of America’s decline; a critique of Joe Biden and the Democrats’ performance since 2020; and a messianic appeal for the restoration of what Trump called “America’s golden age.”

One notable aspect of Trump’s speech is that he does not refer at all to the ‘stolen election’. Trump has shrewdly discarded this politically damaging and untenable falsehood – which he has endlessly peddled for the past two years.

The importance of Trump abandoning the ‘stolen election’ lie cannot be overestimated.  

It enables Trump to distance himself from the ‘knuckleheads’ who foolishly embraced the narrative in the recent midterm elections, together with the Republican Party’s poor overall electoral performance. Herschel Walker, Kari Lake, and others will now join the long list of people that Trump has cynically used and then discarded. 

It also enables Trump to focus exclusively on attacking Biden and the Democrats.

In his speech, Trump paints a graphic picture of America as a nation in serious decline, one that has been “brought to its knees.”

He asserts that “our country is a laughing stock” and that America “is being destroyed before our very eyes.”

In Trump’s view, America is beset by serious social and economic problems at home, and besieged by potential enemies abroad – including China. In fact, Trump claims that “lots of nations want to destroy us.”

The embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan left the US “humiliated for all to see” and it now finds itself embroiled in a conflict in Ukraine that “would never have happened if I were president.”

And by 2024, Trump says, things will have become “much worse” – which is why “our country cannot take four more years of Joe Biden.”

Trump places the blame for America’s decline entirely on the Biden administration. It is no coincidence that the deterioration commenced in late 2020. During Trump’s presidency “the world was at peace and America was a great and glorious nation.”

This is self-serving claptrap, but the appeal of such a stance to the Republican base cannot be denied, and there is no one better than Trump at rewriting history.

Trump describes Joe Biden as “the face of left-wing failure and Washington corruption,” and claims that the Democrats’ program is one that has resulted in “national ruin.”

Under the Democrats, inflation and gas prices have risen; America has “surrendered its energy independence”; the southern border has been “erased” and the US has been “poisoned by illegal alien criminals”; cities have become “cesspools of violent crimes”; a “total breakdown of law and order” has occurred; industry has been crippled by the “socialist green new deal”; and drug addiction has increased.

Meanwhile, Biden “falls asleep at global conferences” and “is leading us to the brink of nuclear war.”

Trump’s cure for America’s decline is very simple.  

Only he and “his movement” – which “is not about politics, it is about our love for this great country” – can restore “American glory,” “the spirit of the nation,” and “America’s golden age.”

Trump can achieve this because he is “a politician who is not a politician.”

Trump promises to “fight like no one has ever fought before” and asserts that only he can “defeat the radical-left Democrats.”

Trump pledges that he “will keep America out of foolish and unnecessary wars” and bring about “peace through strength” – because he is “not a warmonger.”

Trump promises to “unify people” and protect the interests of “workers and the middle class” – while opposing “the establishment, the media, special interests, Marxists, woke corporations, the deep state, the weaponized power of the federal government, the FBI and the Department of Justice.”

With Trump in charge, “America’s comeback starts right now” and “America’s golden age is just ahead.”

Trump has dealt himself back into the political game with this week’s powerful speech and, in my opinion, he will win the Republican nomination for president in 2024. 

Why do I think that? 

First, just cast a glance at those Republicans who have recently written Trump off as ‘electoral poison’ – they include Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, and Mike Pence. What a cabal of political losers – all of whom are seriously lacking in political judgment. 

The judgment of most of the media is no better. 

Second, Trump – whatever you may think of him – is a genuinely charismatic politician and an extremely effective campaigner.  

Max Weber, at the beginning of the collapse of the Weimar Republic, noted that at times of economic, political, and cultural turbulence, voters seek charismatic leaders. Weber also pointed out that charisma, by definition, cannot be transferred. That, by the way, is the real lesson to be learned from the midterm elections. 

DeSantis may be a competent politician, but he is not a charismatic leader.

In the 2024 primaries, I believe that Trump will wipe the floor with DeSantis and anyone else who runs – just as he did with Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and others in the primaries in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

Third, DeSantis’ policies are exactly the same as Trump’s. Why would the Republican base vote for a Trump clone when they can have the real thing?

Whether Trump will become president in 2024 is another matter.

Trump’s election loss in 2020 suggests that winning in 2024 will not be an easy task. 

Even so, it is not difficult to envisage circumstances in which a Trump victory in 2024 appears possible.

Assume, for example, that America is in the throes of a serious economic recession; that inflation and energy prices have continued to rise; that the immigration crisis has intensified; that serious crime in American cities is out of control; that the conflict in Ukraine is continuing; that conflict with China over Taiwan appears likely; and that Joe Biden is too frail to run.

In such circumstances, can any intelligent observer of American politics deny that Trump would have a good chance of being elected president?

In fact, Trump’s ‘America First’ isolationism – which compels him to adopt a form of realpolitik foreign policy – may well be the key to his future political success.

Whatever happens in 2024, however, one thing is perfectly clear – with Trump now back firmly in the saddle thanks to this week’s speech, the endemic divisiveness that has plagued American politics for decades can only intensify over the next two years. 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.