The unavoidable Trump

A Neokohn szerkesztője


Will the nightmare of Democrats and Republicans come true: Will there be a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024?

Magyar változat itt olvasható/Hungarian version

U.S. presidents usually disappear from American politics after their term of office is over. They build a library, some retire to a farm, others start painting and rarely reappear on the scene. They occasionally take diplomatic trips, but usually at the request of the incumbent president. The tradition of retreat was first broken by President Barack Obama, who could not and does not resist making statements all the time, and is still apparently a dominant figure in the Democratic Party. George W. Bush, emboldened by his successor’s behavior, is also speaking out more often. In Trump’s case, the situation is complicated by the fact that, having lost the election after one term, he could potentially run again.

Donald Trump left the White House under turbulent circumstances. The chaos of the 2020 election, the results announced days later and the court cases finally culminated in the „siege” of Capitol Hill on January 6.

Even after the chaos, Trump did not acknowledge the result and did not attend the inauguration, but simply left the White House in the green presidential helicopter.

Then came Trump’s second impeachment trial, the legality of which was in doubt after the chief justice of the Supreme Court himself refused to preside over it. Trump was banned from social media. His voters who stormed the Capitol are still being investigated by the FBI; some have received prison sentences, and others are still facing lawsuits. Since 2015, the U.S. press has been talking about Trump; the president was inescapably on every news site, on the front page of every newspaper, and the subject of every political statement. With Trump gone, the ratings of U.S. news channels have plummeted and news sites lost their steady clicks.

A year and a half into Biden’s presidency, while Trump is no longer in the news, he remains an indisputable figure.

During this time, the former president has held occasional rallies, campaigned for candidates and founded his own community site, Truth Social. Most polls suggest that if the election were held today he would defeat Biden. But a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024 would be a nightmare for both parties.

Stopping him, no matter the cost

For four years, the Democrats have done everything they could to overthrow the president, taking unprecedented steps to do so. For years, they have claimed that Trump is a „puppet of Putin” on the basis of false evidence, severely limiting the president’s room to maneuver on Russia. Aaron Maté was one of the few liberal journalists who comprehensively addressed the fact that the whole Russia scandal was artificially manufactured by the Clinton campaign. He recently wrote on Twitter: „What has not sunk in yet is that the entire Trump-Russia ‘scandal’ was a fraud. When you have documented, Clinton-derived fraud, e.g., the Steele dossier and Alfa Bank, that renders the rest a fraud unless evidence can show otherwise. Upon scrutiny, it only shows more fraud.

In the trial of the Clinton campaign lawyer accused of lying to the FBI, Fox News reported that „Special Prosecutor John Durham’s team alleged (…) that Michael Sussman, a former Clinton campaign lawyer, used the FBI as a ‘political tool’ to ‘manipulate’ them.” 

The increasingly dark twists and turns of the case, however, seemed to be of no interest to U.S. newspapers or Democratic politicians, who themselves have been spreading the „Russian conspiracy” for years. 

In the end, Sussman was acquitted. Meanwhile, the media is still more concerned with somehow making Trump look like he incited an uprising in 2021. After Trump’s disgruntled voters invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021, with some fighting and others walking aimlessly around the building, Democrats found the perfect reason to investigate Trump further. A congressional committee has been set up to investigate the events of January 6, one of whose leaders is Adam Schiff, who for years has claimed to have evidence of a Russia-Trump conspiracy. There’s been no widespread interest in the committee’s activities.

In other times, it might have been possible to maintain interest in the events of January 6, but so much has happened recently, there has been so much dissatisfaction with the current administration, that Americans are not interested.

However, Julie Kelly, an American conservative journalist, has been covering the commission a lot. In an article, she describes how “[i]n February, the select committee subpoenaed Salesforce, a data and digital communications vendor for the Republican National Committee, demanding all records associated with fundraising efforts between Election Day and January 6, 2021.” Kelly said the committee was preparing for a „fall surprise” and said the Biden administration is trying to sue Trump through the Justice Department.

An attempt is underway in New York State to prosecute Trump for tax issues before his presidency. The Hill reported in early 2022 that „a handful of Democrats, constitutional scholars and pro-democracy advocates have been quietly exploring how a post-Civil War amendment to the Constitution might be used to disqualify former President Trump from holding office again.” 

In other words, a group of Democrats is working to prevent Trump from running again based on the events of January 6.

Avoid him, but at what cost?

The Republican leadership is also not enthusiastic about the idea of Trump running again, and in 2016 they did everything they could to oust him from the race. However, he brought so many new voters to the party that they didn’t throw him under the bus despite his questioning the outcome of the 2020 election because they didn’t want to alienate voters.

It is perhaps not an exaggeration to say that the Republican elite is at least as unwilling to see Trump run again as the Democrats.

The appointment of three conservative Supreme Court justices is generally seen as the most positive part of Trump’s legacy. What complicates conservatives’ support for the former president, however, is Trump’s insistence on the election fraud narrative. Mollie Hemingway, conservative editor-in-chief of the Federalist, has conducted several lengthy interviews with Trump. Hemingway has also co-authored a book with her husband on the 2020 election. The journalist says the „fraud” simply cannot be proven:

“It’s almost impossible to find conclusive evidence of election fraud, particularly after ballots are counted. But that didn’t mean the election had been conducted without widespread interference.”

Hemingway cites that in early 2021, a detailed article appeared in TIME magazine about how a group of Democrats, defined by the author as “a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information” had tried to ensure Biden’s victory by any means possible. 

Unfair advantage – is women’s sports really at risk? – Neokohn

Hemingway writes that this kind of manipulation cannot legally be called fraud. For example, she describes how Mark Zuckerberg spent hundreds of millions of dollars targeting Democratic Party counties in a way that significantly increased Biden’s lead and enabled him to win. She explains that the money was not used for campaign expenses, but for a targeted private takeover of the government’s administration of election operations.

However, this is not the same as saying that Trump actually won the election, which the most active segment of his voter base continues to believe.

Many conservatives, including Ben Shapiro and leading figures on the highly influential conservative Daily Wire site, have all repeatedly expressed that they would prefer Trump not to be the nominee.

Conservatives are increasingly looking to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, as he is a true conservative; and not only is he combative like Trump, but he also has a knack for the art of lawmaking, which has been Trump’s greatest shortcoming.

The debates around the 2020 election will continue without Trump, for example, on the phenomenon of “ballot harvesting,” whereby activists from a party go to someone’s house, have them fill in a ballot paper and then drop the ballot in a designated postbox. In some states, this can mean that the winner is not the one people support but the one with the most active activists. This is not illegal in many states, so it is not fraud in the strict sense.

Dominic Green, editor of the U.S. version of The Spectator, has written an article in which he rails against Trump voters, who he says believe in conspiracy theories and are damaging the Republican Party. He says we need to move beyond the fraud narrative as it will scare away a lot of ordinary voters. Many agree with him, but Trump does not seem to be a figure that can be avoided for the time being. Many of the candidates he endorses use conservative rhetoric that appeals to forgotten voters, such as J.D. Vance, a senatorial candidate who has risen from deep poverty. Trump’s support could mean a lot for a candidate in the November election and could have a big impact on who gets elected to Congress.

Biden vs. Trump

It seems that there is one Democrat who would like to see Donald Trump run for president again, and that is Joe Biden. Biden’s current unpopularity was preceded by a brief period when Democratic voters hailed him as a hero for defeating Trump. No wonder the president wants to relive it.

Biden recently joked at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that “we had a horrible plague followed by two years of Covid,” referring to the Trump years.

The president is making a sport of undoing every single provision that Trump has put in place. Biden doesn’t talk much about his predecessor, but he has blamed him for the mismanagement of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and Covid, and recently blamed the Republicans for inflation. Biden was popular as long as people had a strong memory of hating Trump. In 2021, the border crisis, Afghanistan, and the current inflation will make people less sympathetic to the elderly president. And the Russian war on Ukraine has cast Trump in an unexpectedly good light. A CAPS/Harris Poll revealed that 62% of voters said Putin would not have attacked Ukraine if Trump had been president.

Despite his advanced age, Biden has already indicated that he would like to run again in 2024, claiming that „he is the only one who can beat Trump.”

Of course, it’s possible that Biden may still withdraw, given his age. The party would need a younger candidate in the middle with the charisma and name recognition it needs. It is also likely that the Democrats will try to prevent Trump from running, but the question is whether this would be to their advantage if it leads to the eventual nomination of Ron DeSantis. As for the Republicans, they would also like to get Trump out of the race but have not yet found a way to eliminate him while retaining his voters. For political journalists, a Biden-Trump rematch would provide plenty of subject matter — what voters would have to say about it is another matter.

Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Gender war in Florida — parental rights versus woke capitalism

The political debate over Florida’s parental rights law took an unexpected turn when Disney entered the picture.