and the Red Ripple
As I write this commentary, the votes are still being tabulated on a number of key races, but the final outcome is coming into focus. The Republicans are likely to take control of the House of Representatives but by a slim margin. Control of the Senate may have to be determined by a run-off in Georgia – again! What happened? Republicans were supposed to take over both houses of Congress in a giant red wave – a red tsunami. Turns out it is more of a little red ripple. I actually view this as a positive development.
One thing is very clear to me, and probably to many others now. The endorsement of Donald Trump is magic in a Republican primary – almost a guarantee of victory. But that same endorsement is toxic in the general election. It may not guarantee a loss, but it is a substantial headwind. That’s why progressive PACs donated to Trump-backed candidates to help them in the primaries.
And if the Republicans cannot make substantial gains running against one of the most disastrous Democratic administrations in history, then what do you think will happen in 2024 if the Democrats are able to find a presidential candidate that is not non compos mentis. In the mid-term elections after Barrack Obama was elected president, the Republicans gained 64 seats in the House and five in the Senate. In this midterm election, it looks like the Republicans will gain 10 or 20, at most, in the House, and maybe none in the Senate. Some tsunami.
Former President Trump has broadcast that he will make a major announcement next Tuesday, November 15th. He hasn’t said what the announcement will be, but he has been constantly hinting at another run for the presidency. He could likely win the nomination. His base is very strong, and they will follow him anywhere. To hell and back. But he cannot win the 2024 election, no matter what Niall Ferguson says. It is unlikely that the Democrats will rename a feeble old man to run for the most powerful post in the world, or the quota-filling woman-of-color he named as his vice-president (an intersectional goldmine). A more reasonable candidate would be Gavin Newsom, governor of California or someone like him. Reasonable for the Democrats means not someone on the far-far left like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Mr. Trump’s MAGA-Republicans will back him if he asks them. But even the most radical MAGA-Republican must realize that Mr. Trump could never win a fair election. And he would likely drag down the entire Republican ticket with him, giving the progressive-left the control of the government that they need to radically transform America to match their socialist vision. Mr. Trump and the MAGA-Republicans must never let that happen. He could be an elder stateman (he will be 78 in 2024). He could be a kingmaker behind the scenes.
But he would have to let the spotlight be on someone else, not on him. That will be hard for him. His narcissistic dementia makes him seek the spotlight at all times. But in a rare rational moment, even he must realize that his time has passed, and it is time to move on. His desire to run again would destroy the Republican Party. He must balance a legacy of his accomplishments in a single term of office against a legacy as the person that destroyed the Republican Party and allowed America to sink into socialism. I guess that if you can’t be famous, at least you can be infamous.
The poor performance of his chosen candidates in the mid-term elections should serve as a lesson for Mr. Trump. Being a TV personality and a Washington outsider served Mr. Trump very well. But it evidently did not translate to his chosen candidates, none of whom had any experience in politics or in public administration. Many people like mavericks and outsiders some of the time but ultimately they want competent people that can run a government and not just sycophants to the great leader.
But who could replace Trump? Mr. Trump is already mocking potential challengers such as Ron DeSantis. His mocking nicknames frustrated his challengers and enlivened his base. But he would be better served if he participated in the selection of his successor. Any successor to Mr. Trump will need his base to win the general election. But that successor must also be acceptable to mainline Republicans (or RINOs as Mr. Trump calls them) and independents.
Ron DeSantis with his landslide victory in 2022 is probably the best situated to be Mr. Trump’s successor and might even be able to overcome Mr. Trump’s MAGA-Republican supporters but would have a tough time in the general election without them. Other potential successors have a lot of baggage. Glen Youngkin (another inexperienced pol?), Ted Cruz (replace a meanie with another meanie?), Mike Pompeo (Dick (not Liz) Cheney clone?), Mike Pence (the rioters wanted to hang him not elect him) and Nikki Haley (an interesting possibility but not popular with the MAGA crowd).
My particular favorites would have no chance in the primaries. Larry Hogan and Mitch Daniels are experienced professionals but are RINOs of the first order. Condi Rice is probably content attending the Masters and owning an NFL team (while serving as Director of the Hoover Institution). There may be someone else out there that I haven’t thought of, but the last thing we need is some popular but inexperienced candidate (and especially not a celebrity). But a crowded field of presidential aspirants works to Mr. Trump’s advantage.
Mr. Trump can define his legacy in his November 15th announcement -as a one-term president and a Republican elder statesman working hard to elect his Republican successor or as a deranged narcissist who is willing to hand America over to the socialists in his search for revenge. Mr. Trump hates to lose but the choices he faces are to lose gracefully or lose disastrously. From his social media posts it appears he has chosen the latter.