I am not the first one to comment on these pages regarding what happened to the promise and delivery of the MAGA Moment. Donald Trump took the political world by storm in 2016 as he blew past a core of apparently spineless Republican pretenders for the presidency. Millions of ignored voters loved his magnetic strength and his ability to stay focused on the goal at hand. He was a New York streetfighter who could take the Democrats’ best shot and as it turned out, much more. He made us believe that he could win.
From the moment he first threw his hat into the political arena, the other side attacked him with brutality and a bone fide conspiracy that corrupted more than one department of government. It dragged on for almost every minute of his presidency, which included two, not just one impeachment. This dark scenario does not include the germs that mysteriously emanated from the Wuhan Virology Lab in China. Millions died and a blooming Trump economy wilted as the country’s economy suffered through lock downs and virtual education.
In 2020, we hoped for another political triumph. But the element of surprise had been lost. His strategy for victory had been exposed and analyzed on news channels during the ’16 election. Still, Trump attracted a record 74 million voters. Almost inexplicably the Biden juggernaut bested that by an incredible seven-million votes.
As Al Gore had done over something as lame as hanging chads in 2000, Trump immediately contested the results because thousands of his poll watchers and voters had spotted several irregularities including some reports of mysterious closings without cause, millions of unsigned and single candidate votes being suspiciously found at the last minute.
Given the gigantic Russian hoax that 95% of the media totally ignored and even promoted, I do not think it was out of the realm of reality for reasonable people to think that the Democrats had bought some illegal insurance against another Trump victory. A full hearing never took place as most people were sick of the public rancor and division. The fact that the Democrats were behind most of this division seemed to escape the attention of most voters. The powers that be decided to ignore the alleged affidavits, films and other indicting evidence. Biden had lied, which his first two months in office proved, that he was a healer and just the man to bring us together. To this point, I was still a 100% Trump supporter.
Then Georgia happened. The favored Republican somehow had to go into a run-off because neither had the required 50%. Republican David Perdue had led all the way until thousands of newly discovered votes were found, pushing his plurality beneath the 50% mark. The president’s constant meddling, in my opinion, was the deciding factor in Perdue’s loss. It effectively locked the Senate at 50 votes each, with Vice-President Kamala Harris having the only key.
Had Perdue been sworn in during that fateful January in 2021, most of the Biden agenda would have fallen by the wayside and America would not be suffering the high inflation rate and growth stagnation that will probably lead to a Recession next year. Much of this can be delivered to Trump’s doorstep. Though it sounds strange to say this, I think Donald Trump failed to be the statesman Richard M. Nixon was after he was cheated out of the presidency in 1960.
The vainglorious, petty and selfish side of Trump clouded his vision and apparently his understanding of the political realities of the situation. Overcome by his hubris, Trump proceeded to attack any and all Republicans who had not bowed before him or accepted his version of the election. His recent contempt for the newly re-elected Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who thwarted his attempt to delay the results of the Georgia election, reminded me of my only direct involvement in the political process.
I am referring to the short-lived U.S. Taxpayers Party, also known as the Constitution Party, founded by Howard Phillips. His party held their national convention for the Constitution Party in St. Louis in 1999. It selected him and his modest and unassuming running mate, writer Joseph Sobran, who appeared merely along for the ride as their presidential ticket. I was chosen as a delegate or maybe I just volunteered.
After two days of digesting mundane political speeches, I realized that Phillips was not really running against the Democrats. His criticism seemed much more directed at Republicans who had drifted too far to the Left for the country’s welfare. Neither member of his ticket identified with the Republicans and worked to replace it as it was the weaker party.
Third Parties have tried this before and even Teddy Roosevelt’s maverick Progressive Party did not replace the third place Republicans in 1912. But their ideas did gain a foothold. I think that is what both Phillips and Trump missed. Trump should have tried more to influence the leaders of his MAGA ideas. But, like the Republican Roosevelt, Trump was interested more in his own cult of personality.
As important is the fact that Trump’s blatant attacks on Georgia politicians shattered what Ronald Reagan called the 11th Commandment for Republicans: Thou shalt now speak ill of another Republican. Republicans were not his enemies. The Democrats were and are even more so today. The divide they started in 1972 has been deepening since George McGovern introduced radicalism to their Party.
Fast forward to this moment in history. Trump is replaying his behavior from 2020, not 2016. His has changed from the heroic knight rearing up on his white steed to make America great again into the delusional golem* of Mar-a-Lago. While most ignored his antics for two years, many attitudes have changed dramatically, including mine. While most journalists at the WSJ were highly critical of Trump after his election, I think a few of them are reasonable conservatives. They seem to deal more in hard realities and lacking any penchant for chasing windmills.
In their first post-election commentaries, the two I read regularly and admire the most, Daniel Henninger and Kimberly Strassel, wrote critically under the headings, The Trump Liability and This Week’s Red ‘Waves’. On the main editorial page, which seldom had a kind word for Trump, the banner declared Trump Is the GOP’s Biggest Loser. Karl Rove, who is more a Republican operative than a journalist chimed in: With no Red Wave, Trump Is Out at Sea. Collectively, they hit on the truth this time.
What was most disheartening about this last election was the fact that he backed 330 candidates nationally. Many were elected by Democratic crossovers and money in the primaries, whose campaigns wrongly centered upon the stolen election and Trump personally. Many pundits settled on a quick description of what happened to Trump’s many favorites. Candidate quality underscored the fact that many candidates could not muster the fight and policies that had first put their puppet master on the national stage. Strangely, Trump spent little of his own money on his candidates, though he chose them to vindicate him and little more. In doing so, they reflected his losing message of hurt, disappointment and personal grudges. This was a losing ticket to a lifeboat without any oars.
I know it is too early to discount his influence in the next election but it would be a redeeming act of repentance, if he removed himself as a political candidate and started supporting Republicans who do not have to pass his litmus test, but whose ideas are best for the country. America first, now Trump. His policies were mostly winners but he quit the arena when he made elections all about him. Given his autocratic personality, he lost his ability to lead, making him as bad for America as Biden has been.
In my book, winning is the most important thing. I had voted for Ted Cruz in the Missouri primary because I liked his ideas but when the Texas Senator got all bent out of shape because Trump had disparaged his wife Heidi, I realized he was too thin-skinned to win. He could never endure what Rush Limbaugh had churlishly described as a political anal exam. I listened to Trump and realized that he could win. And he did!
After tasting success and enduring the worst possible shots across his bow, short of assassination, his thick skin peeled off his hide. The kitchen got too hot for him as he adopted the style of aforementioned Howard Philips, that is treating the Republicans he needed to win other elections and increase his base like his enemies. Many writers have rightfully compared his political odyssey to a Shakespearean tragedy that we have been forced to not only watch but play the role of a tragic chorus.
As Professor Ruggiero has already reminded us, a good barometer of his fall from glory has been his unrepented and vicious use of name-calling. Especially devious was his two-thirds Pun in calling Governor Ron DeSantis as DeSanctimonious. The re-elected Governor was the biggest winner during the recent election. He has quickly become a Republican rockstar. He has also proved to be everything that Trump had lost or never was. He is now the leading candidate for 2024 and is arguably a Trumpian figure, minus the cruel and sour personality.
Right now, the best thing the Democrats have going for them in 2024 is Donald Trump. He now has the status of an old, aged war horse who is used up but doesn’t know it. His personal charm has vanished and all that is left is anger, frustration and vengeance. For the Republicans to win they must see the light that I and millions of other Trump voters are starting to see.
Governor DeSantis can win as Tuesday proved in Florida, a notable swing state. His policies are what got him elected, not his affable personality. He delivered for the voters as Trump once did. As for Trump, paranoia, though not totally unjustified, set in and he forgot about the people who trudged out to the polls to vote for him…twice. He left us swinging in the wind while he went chasing imaginary windmills or impossible election overturns. I do not want him to come back to my new home in Georgia, unless he is there to support Republicans…all Republicans.
As an aside, even before residing here, I knew all about the University of Georgia. It had had two stellar running backs in succession a few years ago. The first one was Todd Gurley (2012-2014) and the second Nick Chubb (2014-2017). Both names are familiar to millions of NFL fans. When the transition was first made in Athens, one student made a placard, stating the change: I used to be a Gurley man. Now I am a Chubby man. Similarly, I used to be a Donny man but now I am a Ronny man.
*Golem is a multi-faced word. I used it in the context of Trump as a monster of his own making.
**Coincidentally, we still have one more Georgia vote to cast in December that is crucial for the Senate make-up. Herschel Walker ran 200,000 votes behind Kemp. Hopefully, he will reach out to the Governor for a helping hand. He failed to do that out of respect or perhaps fear of Donald Trump. I think it is important that this former star running back from…where else but…Georgia (1980-82), prove his independence from the man who handpicked him and reach out to Kemp. Our future depends on it.