by Joel Kotkin
Friday, 17
June 2022
Analysis
10:00

Trump is the Democrat’s secret weapon

The former President is ruining a historic opportunity for the GOP
by Joel Kotkin
Fly, you fool. Credit: Getty

There is no question that the Democrats are going overboard on the staged theatrics surrounding the horrific events of January 6th. This is a clear attempt by the Party to revive their electoral prospects this autumn, but they may well end up undermining the only man who can save them: Donald Trump.

The hearings already face diminished ratings. After the first day, audience figures fell by 50% and seem unlikely to persuade most fair-minded people that January 6th was anything like the ‘insurrection’ it’s painted as. What emerges instead is a confirmation of mass stupidity by addled MAGA activists set in motion by a cheerleading Chief Executive.

Trump certainly bears his share of the blame for January 6th but not as an organiser of a coordinated rebellion in the historic sense. A coup? Without guns and no military or police support? Mussolini, he is not. January 6th lacked the focus and planning of the March on Rome and there’s certainly nothing of the organised violence that facilitated the Nazi rise to power. Instead, Trump comes off as a hopeless narcissist unwilling to accept his loss even when presented with the facts by his most reliable advisors.

What is catching up with Trump is not his fascist leanings but his pathetic character as an overaged Baby Huey. Progressives and Democrats revel in the idea that the GOP is now a tool of Trump as the unassailable il duce. But in reality, the ex-President is not getting stronger, but weaker. His poll numbers, even among Republicans, have weakened, as more members claim to identify with their party rather than its titular leader. Trump does not retain the respect and loyalty that Ronald Reagan, for example, maintained among a broad part of the party.

Trump’s paranoid, personal style — so evident in the hearings — is no longer unchallenged inside the party. This year his record of endorsements, particularly in hotly contested races, is mediocre. His loss in Georgia, against state officials he desperately wished to topple, was particularly revealing. Last week in South Carolina, he was only partially successful in his drive to expel “disloyal” house members. There are even signs that he may have lost the support of the Murdoch empire.

This is not to say that Trump might not win the GOP nomination, which would be a disaster for the party and country. Even though Trump still leads the field, it’s likely much of the party would favour figures like former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida’s Ron DeSantis or South Carolina’s Tim Scott or Nicky Haley. For many, a Trumpista policy agenda without the diversions of Trumpian insanity may prove appealing.

As for the rest of us, it’s clear that we are fed up with both of the flawed alter cockers who have run this country into the ground. Over 70% of Americans would prefer that neither one runs again.

But we may be forced to accept this choice. If as in 2016 the opposition to him is divided, Trump can skate to victory with 30% of the Republican primary vote. This would give the Democrats a rallying point that they will sorely need, particularly if their likely candidate is an ever more debilitated Joe Biden or the remarkably unappealing Kamala Harris. Indeed, even amid the awful performance of this Administration, Trump polls about even with the likely Democratic candidate.

The hope here is that sentient elements in the Republican Party can stop Trump from ruining what could be a historic opportunity to stop the more extreme progressive agenda. At the same time, the GOP can be recast as the voice of the middle and working class. In this, the Democrats may be helping by placing emphasis on Trump’s personal awfulness. If Trump’s image continues to fade, even to the point of caricature, the GOP may end up thanking Nancy Pelosi for saving their party from itself.

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Matt M
Matt M
12 days ago

The more I see of Ron DeSantis, the more I like. He knows how to play the media game, has good instincts on cultural questions, is pro-business and seems likeable, organised and measured. The wackier end of the Dems can’t stand him obviously but I suspect he could win over a majority of voters, maybe even a sizable one, which could take some of the heat out of US politics and would be a blessing for the country and the world.

Last edited 12 days ago by Matt M
Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
12 days ago
Reply to  Matt M

I don’t know. I think De Santis is going to fight the culture war for keeps in a way that Trump was too undisciplined to do. I think that is a good thing by the way.

Matt M
Matt M
11 days ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Yes I think he will too

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
12 days ago

I agree with this. Trump was, in my opinion, the wrong man to be President, but who was elected for the right reasons.

Today, he is more likely to motivate and unite the Democrats than he is to defeat them. If he can accept that he can no longer be king, but accept the role of king maker, then the Republicans have a far better chance of reclaiming the Presidency.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
12 days ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

Agree 100%. I voted for Trump twice (Hillary!!?, Biden??!!) but have come to believe that he really lost it after the results were finally in about the election.

Bill Barr has done us all a great service by revealing what Trump ignored while Mark Elias and the democrat lawyers were unleveling the playing field in the Spring and Summer of 2020, and what Trump ignored about the actual levels of fraud (he listened to the “clown show” Giuliani lawyers who tried to leverage a few irregularities into undoing an election.

And then, the January 6 rally while congress was counting the electoral college results. He gained votes among Hispanics but lost the suburbs and did LESS WELL among the “white male” vote. Then he almost single-handedly disrupted the vote for two senate seats in Georgia. His vendettas continue.

Biden has been a disaster (which any fair-minded person could have predicted from his Bernie Sanders 104 page platform), but Trump has developed an uncanny ability to screw things up (Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania?!) and detract from the issues. Pence/Desantis or vice versa would crush whoever is left on the Democratic bench. But Trump will blow it.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
12 days ago

“For many, a Trumpista policy agenda without the diversions of Trumpian insanity may prove appealing.”

From across the pond, that feels like a statement of the glaringly obvious.

Gary Hemminger
Gary Hemminger
11 days ago

As Joel indicates, the only way the Republicans lose in 2024 is if Trump is their candidate. If Trump runs he is clearly delusional and in no way would he beat a Democrat. And I don’t want Joe Biden to be anywhere near the presidency after 2024. He is the worst president I have seen in my lifetime and that includes Carter who was awful. Carter actually said (in the 80s) that we would run out of oil in 10 years. He was a complete dimwit but Biden is worse. Biden is actually destroying the economy with his anti-fossil fuel BS. But I would rather have Biden than Harris. She is a complete idiot who never got challenged in politics. She was hoisted up in CA by the useful idiots that run this state.
The Dems should be hoping that Trump runs, but they are too stupid to figure this out. The Democratic party is completely captured by the Progressives.
Some definitions =>
White supremacist = anyone that disagrees with a progressive
Transphobe = anyone that doesn’t want children of any age able to modify their body and hormones at will with no parental supervision
Bigot = anyone to the political right of you
Racist = any organization or person that doesn’t contribute and kowtow to BLM
Diversity = Believing whatever a progressive says it means 

Ian Burns
Ian Burns
12 days ago

Wow, this op-ed shows all the originality and insight of NYT columnist. Exactly what is it the editors believe has been written here that anyone with an ounce of common sense has not known for over a year at least!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
11 days ago
Reply to  Ian Burns

Maybe so, but there are a lot of Republican MAGAs still denying it, usually on these media forums. I’m pleased to see this cool appraisal of what Republicans should be aiming for.

Jim Stanton
Jim Stanton
5 days ago
Reply to  Ian Burns

I’m sorry to say, but I think your assumption that common sense still prevails is no longer valid. People have lost this quite some time ago. Now it’s all emotion and unfortunately, some of the strongest emotions are anger and hate. Plenty of that these days.

AC Harper
AC Harper
12 days ago

Alternatively you could argue that none of the Establishment (Republicans and Democrats) want Trump back because he didn’t play the political game by the ‘my turn on the gravy train’ rules.
Of course with Biden and Harris doing their incompetent best to derail the gravy train maybe another ‘disruptive’ Republican becomes more desirable.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
12 days ago

‘Just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.’ (Old UK Liberal Democrats slogan).

Last edited 12 days ago by Arnold Grutt
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
12 days ago

Hardly secret. What else have they got these days?

Peter Styles
Peter Styles
11 days ago

Trump was a disaster for the USA; His allies, who watched in amazement at his narcissism and ineptitude at foreign policy. The USA has never suffered such opprobrium as now and this will continue if Donald Trump continues in his attempts to secure the nomination.
Biden has been a disaster and the country will will continue it’s downward spiral under his leadership. Please God spare us from KM.
The GOP desperately need a new leader who has skin in the challenge and shows selfless leadership.