Is former president Donald Trump the most famous person in the world and still the undisputed heavyweight champ of Republican politics?
We may see a slow trainwreck of legal maladies and political defeats, but Trumpism is still alive and well in the party. Just take a look at the war in Ukraine. Trump’s America First strategy of military non-intervention without spending on foreign entities still resonates with MAGA Republicans who think aiding Ukraine is a fool’s errand brought about by Democrat warmongers.
Democrats Go After the MAGA Movement
The Democratic strategy has been to frame Republican leaders as too extreme and radical. They are accused of supporting the Make America Great Again movement over the Constitution. This worked to a certain degree in the 2022 Midterm elections in which Trump-backed inexperienced Republican candidates such as Blake Masters and Kari Lake of Arizona plus Mehmet Oz of Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker of Georgia were seen as outside the mainstream and too beholden to Trump’s denial of the 2020 election. Thus, democracy and Trumpism was on the ballot, and this hurt Republicans.
Can Trump’s Legal Jeopardy Stop His Campaign?
Despite years of hunting Trump for transgressions big and small and impeaching him twice, Democrats have not been able to stop Trump and his movement. He gets deposed in a rape case and insults the alleged victim. He is being sued over wrongful deaths associated with the January 6 insurrection. He could be criminally indicted for inciting the assault on the Capitol Complex that day. At least 978 supporters have been charged for the January 6 riots, many sentenced to jail. They are seen by Trump acolytes as political prisoners.
Donald Trump Still Has Much to Run On that Stokes MAGA Fires
Despite all of this, which would make normal candidates go into hiding, Trump is even more emboldened. His grievance politics and rebellion against the Swamp of Washington, D.C., and the fight against woke policies and identity politics from the Left still reverberate.
Leading In at Least One Poll
Trump’s announcement to run for president again was seen as humdrum and low energy. It was designed to clear the field. Although many other candidates are exploring a run, no one has declared. It is still early of course, but some polling for hypothetical GOP matchups with Trump favor the former president. A recent Morning Consult poll had Trump ahead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis 48 to 31. Third place went to Mike Pence at eight percent. All other candidates barely registered. If this poll can be believed Trump still is number one with almost half of the Republican primary voters.
His Supporters Don’t Give Up
That’s why you can’t count Trump out at this time. His supporters are still rabid. Go to Twitter and search for MAGA and you get numerous results. There are Trump supporters who are already saying that the 2024 presidential election will be rigged and stolen from Trump. You see accounts that claim “MAGA Forever.” Some people say that Biden is a “fake president.”
‘Let’s Go Brandon:’ Vulgar and Widespread
Look at the “Let’s Go Brandon” movement – a chant that was code for an R-rated incendiary word that cannot be mentioned in this column. “Let’s Go Brandon” became so widespread that MAGA faithful even yelled it inside a church and the pastor had to stop it. Imagine people who think they are religious yelling an obscenity code in unison inside a place of worship.
More War Against the Media
Donald Trump is also an entertainer who drives cable news ratings. CNN and MSNBC viewership has gone down since Trump left office. He refuses to be tamed by the media. He calls for journalists to be jailed repeatedly. He has funny nicknames and caustic insults for his opponents. Trump will run against the establishment again and rage at career politicians. This endears him even more to his fans.
Big Conservative Confab Coming Up
The next big test for Trump’s support is a keynote speech that he will deliver to the CPAC conservative conference in Maryland at the beginning of March. 19FortyFive will watch this address closely and monitor the crowd reaction. Will he get standing ovations from the MAGA folks? Will he attack other candidates who may have declared against him? And will he win the famous CPAC straw poll?
The Iowa caucuses are about a year away and Trump won Iowa twice in the general elections against Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. A 2024 win there would give him momentum. If you want to stop Trump, it will be necessary for other candidates to build an enormous grassroots network in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina because Trump has already built his army in those states.
MORE: The F-15EX Is No F-35
This is why you could see a re-match between Trump and Biden. As Freddy Gray just wrote for the Spectator, “You won’t want to watch it, but you will.”
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.