The ghost of Rush Limbaugh chimes in on this from beyond the grave.
I agree with Dr. Hill.
The 2016 election was an electrifying roller coaster ride. I voted for Donald Trump in both the primary and general election. I voted for him mainly to demolish the conservative establishment.
The Trump presidency was a demoralizing shitshow from beginning to end which I covered for four long years. Trump voters congratulated themselves for Making America Great Again, checked out and went back to sleep. The Alt-Right cracked like an egg after Charlottesville. We were wiped out by an Iron Curtain of censorship. As president, Trump reverted to conventional conservative policies after settling into office. His major legislative accomplishments were the tax cuts and criminal justice reform. Jared Kushner was put in charge of our foreign policy. Trump’s final act was capitulating to Anthony Fauci and allowing state election laws to be changed, tweeting LAW & ORDER as cities burned and swindling millions from his supporters during Stop the Steal only to abandon them and pardon a bunch of black rappers. He endorsed people like Mitt Romney while destroying Jeff Sessions. He ran for reelection on Jexodus and the Platinum Plan.
Throughout it all, I judged Donald Trump like I would have judged any other president. The only thing I cared about was policy results and changes. I didn’t care about his scandals or impeachments which absorbed the attention of CNN and MSNBC. He could have brought the troops home from Iraq and Syria. He failed to Build the Wall. He normalized faggotry. He pandered to blacks and Hispanics while ignoring his demoralized White supporters. He picked the worst people like Mad Dog Mattis or Christopher Wray. By 2020, I was exhausted and was ready for it to be over, which is why I didn’t vote for him. You couldn’t have been more done with Donald Trump than I was in January 2021.
Lately, I have begun to reconsider my view of Donald Trump. What if the stuff which I actually cared about – immigration, foreign policy, trade policy, censorship, Southern heritage, White issues, etc. – didn’t matter all that much? What if the stuff that I DIDN’T care about – Russiagate, FBI spying, the impeachment over the phone call with Zelensky, January 6 – is what actually mattered in the long run? By the standard of a normal presidency, the former is what should have mattered. Trump ran on an agenda and largely failed to deliver it. As time moves forward though, it is increasingly clear that it is the latter – the extremes his opponents are willing to go to take him out – for which Trump will be remembered by history.
The 2024 election has a much more interesting dynamic: either Trump wins and wields state power to take revenge on all of his various enemies, OR, Biden wins by using the legal system to destroy and imprison Trump. Policy has nothing to do with this election. Settling scores is all that matters. Both sides are willing to break the glass and wield emergency powers. The Left sees Donald Trump as an existential fascist threat to Democracy. The Right sees the Left and the Deep State incarcerating Trump as an existential threat to their freedom. Given the stakes, neither side can afford to lose the election.
In the eighth year of the Trump Era, it is clear that the truly significant thing that Trump has accomplished isn’t his policy record. It is the divisions he has stoked. It is the distrust of elites and institutions that he has fueled. It is the radicalization on both sides that he has fostered. Joe Biden ran on restoring normalcy in America, but our politics are now more acrimonious than when Trump was president. Normal times when we debate policy choices are long gone. We have only traveled further into a crisis era.
Back in 2017, the Alt-Right was chomping at the bit for Trump to push through radical changes in society. Normie Republicans were relieved to be rid of Obama and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump himself never expected to win the 2016 election and scrambled to cobble together an administration. Trump only had a tenuous hold over the Republican Party. Congress was stocked with Paul Ryan types who saw his victory as a fluke that they could ride out. The political atmosphere is completely different now. Both sides are now ready for confrontation and radical change and will stop at nothing to steamroll over the opposition.
Picture the following three scenarios in 2024:
1. Ron DeSantis or someone else, not Donald Trump, wins the Republican nomination on the basis of their policy vision and practical ability to implement long overdue reforms. In normal times, DeSantis may have defeated Trump, but this looks increasingly unlikely. Voters are spoiling for a fight.
2. Trump is convicted of multiple felonies, but wins the Republican nomination only to be sent to prison where presumably he will run in the general election as Joe Biden’s opponent. Perhaps the Supreme Court intervenes and bails him out after his conviction. Trump goes on to narrowly win the general election. Does the Deep State accept a Trump victory? Is policy going to matter in this scenario?
3. Trump is convicted of multiple felonies, but wins the Republican nomination and is sent to prison. Joe Biden wins the general election. Does MAGA accept the legitimacy of Biden’s victory?The first scenario is unlikely. The last two scenarios are about equally probable. Donald Trump isn’t going to go quietly into the night like Richard Nixon who
1.) accepted the stolen election of 1960 and
2.) resigned during Watergate.
He is ready to take the whole system down like Samson.
I’m not saying go out and vote for Trump.
There are plenty of good reason not to vote for Trump. He doesn’t deserve a second chance. We’re almost certain to get a Trump vs. Biden rematch though. Political tensions are now higher than at any point since the 1860 election. The whole house of cards could come tumbling down under the stress of it all. You might want to start thinking ahead to who you would rather be in charge of the government when that happens instead of this or that policy which isn’t going to matter when hell breaks loose.
In sum, the best case for Donald Trump in 2024 is that the system simply can’t handle the political stress that he is uniquely capable of causing. It is also frightening to think about Trump’s deranged opponents being empowered by a crisis in which they are unshackled by the limits of the Constitution. Think of the Radical Republicans and how they were empowered during the War Between the States and the use that they made of the crisis in the Reconstruction era.