Did Trump spoil the GOP for more rational leaders?

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The fiery Kristi Noem and the cautious Mike Pence with the reigning demagogue Donald Trump.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images

In all the speculation about Donald Trump’s political future, there is a lot of talk about who might pick up the Trumpist banner if he drops it, but not enough talk about whether anyone can. by temperament replace the 45th president and his rage machine.

I once dismissed Mike Pence’s presidential prospects on the grounds that he had fallen between two stools by following Trump in the most embarrassing and sycophantic manner for four years, then “betraying” him by refusing to execute a blow. ‘Status Jan. 6. But Washington To postby Paul Waldman a underlined another point about stylistic Mismatch of the placid Hoosier in a post-Trump environment:

[N]A very long time ago, the standards for selecting a candidate from the GOP would have matched Pence perfectly. The two party candidates before Trump, Mitt Romney (2012) and John McCain (2008), did not ignite the primary electorate; most of them marched while their opponents ignited. …

Even if he doesn’t run in 2024, every Republican candidate will be judged by whether Trump likes them and how loyal they have been to Trump. But just as important, he created an expectation of emotional intensity that a glass of hot milk like Pence couldn’t hope to satisfy.

As Waldman suggests, it is not clear any likely Trump successors in 2024 may satisfy the MAGA crowds stylistically. It’s not just about being far-right or respectable reactionary, or “hot” as opposed to rhetorically “cool”. Politicians like Ron DeSantis, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Mike Pompeo may say the ‘right’ words with great malicious power, but none of these men are the kind of natural demagogues who freak the public out and walk the Capitol. . kick ass and take names – to paraphrase Mo Brooks on January 6. And maybe Marco Rubio and Nikki Haley are opportunistic enough to go with the flow and find themselves outraged by critical race theory or vote by mail, but they wouldn’t pass a test of authenticity.

It’s interesting in part because it contrasts with the Democrats, those so-called socialist fanatics, who burn churches, kill babies, and fund cops who have scrutinized a rich assortment of 2020 presidential candidates and have selected Joe biden to follow in the war.Unlike what happened to Democrats after 2016, there is no evidence that defeat in 2020 made Republicans more pragmatic. On the contrary, he did the exact opposite, ”observes Waldman.

And it’s the other quality of Trump that may have ruined his party for anyone else in sight: the pure, tumultuous irrationality of his bet on politics to offend and / or terrify more than half of the electorate and bet on turnout patterns, voter suppression and the Electoral College to win anyway. Was anyone other than maybe Don Jr. built that way? Maybe Culture War fanatics Kristi Noem and Josh Hawley could make it happen. Or maybe an “alien” we haven’t envisioned who assesses the landscape like a wolf in search of prey could announce a 2024 scoping committee.

But let’s not assume that Republicans are currently in the market for “pragmatic” leadership, or that they can emulate Democrats who let down Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and other rhetorically “hot” progressives to turn the heat down. 2020. Republicans are on fire, and given the odds of them making mid-term gains in 2022 even though they are as irresponsible as they are in 2021, the call-all-out incentives may never materialize . So much for the return to normalcy that Biden was largely meant to represent. It would take two parties to achieve this.


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