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Donald Trump’s Path To Self Destruction

Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Can Donald Trump Pull Off a Win in 2024?  Donald J. Trump considers himself a champion of the Forgotten Man.

In many respects, that is true. His 2016 campaign was a long-running narrative about how he alone could fix the problems that our indolent political class had either created or ignored—and that the vast majority of Blue-Collar and middle-class Americans had paid for dearly. 

Under Trump, the GOP went from the party of Blue Bloods to Blue-Collar and the real estate mogul was able to rejigger the electoral map in 2016 enough to overcome the Hillary Clinton machine (likely saving the nation from the corruption of the Clinton family). 

By 2018, however, Trump’s electoral fortunes had shifted (not for the better). He had been subject to a completely unhinged special prosecution investigation and an endless pile on from the mainstream media about how he was corrupt and awful. Trump’s own erratic behavior didn’t help him. By the midterms of 2018, the shine on the outsider, Trump, had worn off. 

What does the future hold for Donald Trump as we consider 2024? 

Donald Trump From The Art of the Deal to the Art of the Comeback

People elected him to overcome the stifling stagnation of the Washington political scene. They elected the man who wrote The Art of the Deal to make deals with Democrats and foreign leaders that would enhance the United States. Once it was clear Trump would not or could not achieve this, people began growing tired.

Of course, Trump was always a man apart from the Republican Party. He was not on the ballot in 2018. Many assumed that the 2020 election would be quite different since he would be on the ballot. Still, the loss in 2018 set the stage for a Democrat-led evisceration of the Trump Administration that continued to slow President Trump and stymie any movement on key issues that he wanted to resolve. 

In 2020, Trump clearly lost. Whatever one’s opinion on how he lost, the fact is he did lose. It is incumbent upon Republicans to understand why. A large reason for Trump’s loss was his personality. He was way too volatile. Whereas Trump was competitive—winning 74 million votes to Biden’s 81 million—the unevenness of his COVID-19 response and the subsequent economic downturn that occurred under his watch were simply too much for most voters to tolerate. Had COVID-19 not occurred, it is likely Donald Trump would’ve coasted to reelection. With the novel coronavirus from Wuhan, China, Trump’s fortunes changed again.

Following his loss, Trump has gone on to announce he is running again for the presidency in 2024. This time, he is not running as anyone’s champion; but their “retribution.” That rhetoric appeals to a swathe of the electorate, for sure. 

Can it galvanize enough people to Trump’s cause again? That remains to be seen. 

Rage and Self Destruction: The Trump Way

The fact is that Trump is now viewed by a sizable portion of the electorate as unstable and ineffective. Most don’t like that he has spent the last few years trying to prove that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. This is working against him as he seeks reelection. With other contenders, notably Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis possibly entering the 2024 GOP Presidential Primary, Trump will need to be aware that his constant rage might not be the thing voters are looking for in a General Election.

Paradoxically, Trump’s wrath seems to be precisely what many Republican primary voters desire. As I’ve written before, Ron DeSantis is the best possible presidential candidate I’ve ever seen—possibly since Ronald Reagan graced us with his presence. Yet, the same strengths that DeSantis has in terms of appealing to a wider spectrum of voters in a General Election appear to be (so far) the kind of weaknesses that would prevent Florida’s governor from getting the Republican nomination. 

Trump is brash, funny, and speaks very well extemporaneously. Most of Trump’s political career has been defined by an almost Vaudevillian act in the setting of a Christian revival (without Christ as the figurehead) combined with unpredictable, ceaseless name-calling directed at all of Trump’s perceived enemies. 

Donald Trump spoke plainly and off-the-cuff; he not only sounded differently than your typical, Ayn Rand-loving, milquetoast Republican presidential candidate but he behaved differently as well. This is still Trump today and it is why DeSantis and his backers foolishly underestimate Trump’s power to enchant ordinary Republican voters—even though DeSantis is clearly a better possible nominee.

Yet, the main reason for why Trump won in 2016 was simply because he was not Hillary Clinton. In 2020, Trump lost when he went up against a seemingly more likable (and just as much of a blowhard) Joe Biden. The chips were down for the United States, Americans were tired of Trump’s volatility during an already chaotic moment, so they went with a man in Joe Biden who was the exact opposite of Trump. 

Yes, Biden’s term in office has been a shambles. We will be paying down the bad decisions of Biden for decades to come. But he seemed to enough Americans to be the more moderate (and therefore safer and stabler) candidate than Trump.

Only Total Collapse Under Biden Could Elect Trump in ‘24

Should Trump be the Republican nominee in 2024 who faces off against Biden, Trump’s angry schtick won’t be any more attractive to the bulk of American voters than it was in 2020. If, however, the economy has entered another Great Recession (or, God forbid, another Great Depression) and/or if the United States appears on the brink of a nuclear world war with Russia over Ukraine, suddenly Trump’s chances get better. The American people at that point will likely be looking for an avenging angel screaming, “You’re fired!” to everyone in Washington, D.C. 

Without a true collapse in the American economy, though, Trump will be just another failed Republican presidential nominee in 2024 and the country will be in the sclerotic hands of “Sleepy” Joe Biden. Trump has always been radical in his disposition and approach to life; this was the source of his fame and fortune. 

It would take a radical moment in this country’s development, such as a 2008-style financial crisis in the United States, to restore him to the White House. Barring that, Trump will not become the forty-seventh president.

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Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (Republic Book Publishers), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16, Encounter Books). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

Written By

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who recently became a writer for Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.