Published at 19:35 on 9 November 2022
The beginning of the end of Trumpism, that is.
The dust has yet to fully settle on the midterm elections, but what we do know is that the standard shellacking of the in-party did not happen this time. Even Lindsey Graham has openly said so.
Already the knives are coming out for Trump in the GOP, with no shortage of suggestions that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (more later on what his victory in the Florida gubernatorial race says) would make a better standard-bearer for their party. (As unlikable as I find DeSantis, he’s still better than Trump.)
But here’s the thing: I have thought there would be such tipping points many times before, most recently after the failed coup attempt on January 6th. Every time, it did not happen. The GOP kissed and made up with Trump. Maybe this time is different, but I can’t get my hopes up.
Suppose for sake of argument, it actually is different this time. Then what?
First Trump is still Trump. He’s never had the emotional maturity to engage in honest self-assessment before, and there is absolutely no reason to believe that he has suddenly and for no explicable reason acquired this ability. Trump never thinks he is anything but the greatest ever. He never thinks anything is his fault.
If Trump doesn’t get the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, he will say it is because the whole process is rigged and it was unfairly stolen from him. Then he will run as an independent in all 50 states. His base of fanatical, sheep-like followers will vote for him and not the GOP.
Suppose that’s only 5 to 10 percent of the GOP. That’s still enough to doom them. DeSantis loses to whatever Democrat (hopefully not Biden, but more on that later) runs against him.
At that that point, the earliest the GOP can win back the White House is 2028. By then, Trump will either be dead or in the old folks’ home. For that matter, so will a significant chunk of his base, who leans to an older demographic. Those still alive will have the same short memory that most Americans have, and will have mostly forgotten about Trump.
As such, 2028 will be the first year the GOP can realistically hope to win back the White House. Even if they do, it will be with a more garden-variety conservative who does not pose such an existential threat to political democracy.
But, to reiterate, this only happens if the knives stay out for Trump. Also, GOP strategists have no doubt run just this scenario through their heads, and don’t much like the idea of waiting until 2028 to get the White House back. So the temptation to kiss and make up with Trump will be very real.
On the other hand, they just might go through with dumping Trump. Rage and the desire for revenge are very real things.
So yes, this might be the beginning of the end. But, to reiterate, I can’t get my hopes up.