To hear some Republican lawmakers tell it, Donald Trump is the only candidate for 2024. That is a measure of just how much influence the dwindling number of hardcore Trump ignorati have. As with everything else, from anti-vaxxing to the Big Lie, Donald Trump’s base — his red-hatted constituency — remains entrenched in a surreal world of falsehoods and false hopes, and they have the power to influence Republicans still clinging to power. They are like children on Christmas morning with visions of sugar Trumps dancing in their heads.
In my lifetime there have only been four presidents who the voters decided would not have another term of office: Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush and Trump. At no point was there a serious groundswell of support for the previous three making a comeback. As painful as the loss was for their adherents, such a thought never occurred to any of them. They knew that the ultimate political epitaph was to lose the presidential race as an incumbent.
Yet the MAGA crowd never seems to get tired of losing. Republican Senator Bill Cassidy put it this way, “President Trump is the first president, on the Republican side at least, to lose the House, the Senate, and the presidency in four years. Elections are about winning.” Cassidy added he would not vote for Trump in 2024.
Trump is also the first president in US history to be impeached twice. Had he been re-elected he almost certainly would have been impeached a third time. Four years is plenty of time for at least one more impeachment trial of Donald Trump, and given his talent for screwing everything up, it may be generous to suggest he would only get impeached once more.
Cassidy, who was censured by his state’s own Republican Party for voting to convict Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection, is convinced that if Trump is still around in 2024 he won’t have enough political clout by then to even get the Republican nomination. He didn’t add that Trump might also be in prison by then, a distinct possibility.
Political comebacks are almost never triumphant, and Trump’s second floundering campaign doesn’t have the same imprimatur of possible victory his first one did. But I still cringe at the memory of the parade of politicians and celebrities who looked straight at the camera and promised us, “Donald will never be president.” So I’m going to continue to fight like hell against the possibility that it could happen again, just in case. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.