1945 | by Brandon Weichert | March 29, 2023
Donald Trump should have been able to coast to reelection, either in 2020 or in 2024. Instead, he cannot get out of his own way. With Trump, it’s one-step-forward-one-step-back. For most voters outside of his “MAGA” base, they’re ready to move on. If Trump loses in 2024, it will be because he brought himself down with such thoughtless antics.
Donald Trump is the most dynamic politician of my lifetime. A man who can command an audience and galvanize people, Trump is beset by his own iniquities. Trump has always been a lightning rod, whether it be in the freewheeling Manhattan real estate market, the entertainment industry, or politics. What made Donald Trump appealing—his brashness—is what made him many enemies, too. In many cases, though, they were the right enemies. The corrupt bureaucrats, the charlatans who feed at the trough in Washington, D.C., these were Trump’s foes.
Trump won in 2016 because the American people were looking for a true outsider. While he did not win the popular vote that year, Trump managed to rejigger the electoral college just enough to give him the edge his unorthodox campaign needed to defeat the greatest swamp creature of them all: Hillary Clinton. Even though Trump was highly controversial and unconventional, people tolerated him. The economy did well under his presidency. Trump avoided embroiling the United States in any new wars. He also took on cultural causes that many Americans supported.
Character is Destiny for Donald Trump
At the same time, though, Trump’s character flaws were always undercutting his presidency.
What should have been a truly post-partisan presidency became the epicenter of the most brutal partisan rancor in decades. It wasn’t all Trump’s fault. The Democrats went into his presidency on a war footing. Still, Donald Trump didn’t help his cause at all by waging war on everyone around him (and doing it in public). By Trump’s last year in office, as the COVID-19 pandemic from Wuhan, China, was taking over, Trump’s negatives outstripped his positives in the eyes of many voters, and the forty-fifth president was denied reelection.
As a result of the failed reelection bid, the Republican Party got sucked into a terrible riot on January 6, where it is alleged that a group of Trump diehards broke into the Capitol building to disrupt the certification process of the 2020 Presidential Election. Most Americans—even many Republican voters—believed that the January 6 riot was awful for the United States. What’s more, many polls conducted since that day of infamy have indicated that overwhelming numbers of Americans believe Trump is liable on some level for what happened that day.
Still, Donald Trump smartly avoided wading too heavily into the January 6 imbroglio. For two years, despite initially telling the January 6 rioters the day of the riot that “We love you” as they were rampaging through the halls of my former workplace, Trump said little about January 6. This was smart as there was no way for him to come out looking good. And since he had always planned on running for the presidency in 2024, avoiding the image of being associated with a moment that most people already believed he was responsible for, it made sense for him to avoid the subject entirely.
Trump Can’t Help Himself
Yet, Trump’s own character weaknesses can’t help but to consume him.
The former president had gained a massive boost in the polls in the wake of the absurd attempt by the Manhattan district attorney to indict him for supposed hush money payments to the pornographic film star, Stormy Daniels. Before news of the potential indictment broke (which Trump leaked himself), Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, a possible challenger to Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, was surging in the polls.
After the indictment news broke, Trump skyrocketed to the top of the polls for the Republican Primary again. Even some fence-sitting voters began to look at Trump sympathetically. After all, he was clearly being targeted by the Left. The Democrats going into 2024 want to kneecap the former president, as he poses a real threat to them (as does DeSantis, whom they also wish to destroy before they must face him).
Trump kept punching Governor DeSantis in the press. This was viewed as unnecessary by many (myself included). Although, in the context of campaigning for the presidency, it can be understood as part of the cost of doing business. Former President Trump was again riding high. He sojourned to Waco, Tex., as part of his campaign where he held a rally. It was packed. Some of the pictures made it look like the halcyon days of 2016 all over again.
Trump Links Himself to the 1/6 Riot—And Waco
Even as he was riding high, though, Trump couldn’t help himself. In tragic fashion, Trump’s personality weaknesses got the better of him. In the same town where the horrific Waco attack occurred in 1993, Trump played a tribute to the January 6 rioters still being held without proper access to due process. It was strange. Trump’s behavior reflected the typical self-destructive style that came to define (and destroy) his presidency.
In one fell swoop, Trump reminded most voters why they didn’t reelect him three years ago. To compound matters, Trump not only reopened the old wounds of the January 6 riots at his rally, but he breathed new life into the Democrats’ obscene “insurrection” narrative about Trump and the January 6 riots by putting on such a display in Waco, the place of the last armed uprising in the United States.
One can anticipate another endless, breathless round of the Rachel Maddow’s of the mainstream media excoriating Trump and accusing he and his followers of being fanatics intent on destroying the country—only Trump is now giving these critics actual ammunition with which to use against him.