Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and senior advisor Kellyanne Conway appeared in The New York Times last week with an opinion piece about her former boss: The Cases for and Against Trump. The piece takes stock of the contemporary problems facing Trump.
The piece makes valuable commentary on Trump and his impact on American politics. Ultimately, Conway acknowledges that Trump is suffering from a variety of self-inflicted wounds – but that to write Trump off as defeated, or out of the 2024 race, would be foolish. It seems Donald Trump can destroy himself – or save himself.
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Reflecting on Donald Trump
Conway had a unique vantage point to Trump’s 2016 campaign, which pulled off the biggest upset in modern political history – she ran the thing.
“Trump shocked the world in 2016,” Conway wrote, “becoming the first president in U.S. history with no prior military or government experience. He upended the fiction of electability pushed by pundits, the news media, and many political consultants, which arrogantly projects who will or will not win long before votes are cast.”
Conway compared Trump to Obama, in that both men “exposed the limits of Hillary Clinton’s political inevitability and personal likeability” while running an outsider campaign that spoke to everyday Americans. Trump “tapped into the frustrations and aspirations of millions of Americans.”
Yes, Trump certainly did tap into the frustrations of everyday Americans – he deserves credit for that. But Trump used snake oil to court a population that he had no relatability with and had no sincere interest in helping. Trump’s talent was in getting low-income, rural Americans to vote for him on the premise that lowering corporate tax rates was going to remedy their woes.
Conway goes on to describe “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” which I have to say I find to be a real thing.
“Cosseted in their social media bubbles and comforted within self-selected communities suffering from sameness, the afflicted disguise their hatred for Mr. Trump as a righteous call for justice or a solemn love of democracy and country,” Conway wrote. “So desperate is the incessant cry to ‘get Trump!’ that millions of otherwise pleasant and productive citizens have become naggingly less so.”
It’s difficult to argue with that. Conway proceeds to point out that citizens suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome are willing to ignore the shortcomings of President Biden and Vice President Harris. Also, true. Biden’s primary campaign message in 2020 was that he alone was capable of beating Trump.
If Biden runs again in 2024, he’ll probably run a similar message, at least throughout the GOP primaries.
Trumpism in the Future
Conway believes that only a fool would dismiss Trump’s candidacy for 2024 – for Trump “endures persecution and eludes prosecution like no other public figure.” Yet, Conway acknowledges that Trump will not have a smooth path to another GOP nomination. Conway, who led the 2016 campaign but is not associated with the 2024 campaign, pointed out that his new team does not have the “hunger, swagger, and scrappiness of an insurgent’s campaign.”
Where Conway and I really deviate, is that she touts Trump’s record of accomplishments with respect to the economy, energy, national security, trade, the southern border, etc. Basically, Conway touts Trump as a standard Republican with standard Republican accomplishments.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.