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OPINION

Has Trump's Time Passed?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Matt York

With the results of the 2022 mid-term elections still coming in, and the control of Congress and the Senate still in question since the anticipated ‘red wave’ didn’t materialize, it’s a good bet that finger-pointing and blame laying is just around the corner. And rightfully so.

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Republicans need to figure this thing out before the 2024 elections, which in political terms is just around the corner. For any viable candidates to put together an effective campaign they will need to start laying the groundwork and start fundraising already.

Certainly some blame can be laid at the hands of the Democrat Party for investing millions of dollars in helping push less than desirable Republican primary candidates across the finish line, and on to win the Republican Party’s nomination for hotly contested offices around the country. This set up races that Democrats could have lost that were turned into eventual wins instead.

But is there also blame that should be placed directly at the feet of former President Donald Trump for encouraging and endorsing candidates that underwhelmed during their campaigns, and who ultimately lost in the general election? I think the case can be made that anyone with political aspirations who declared fealty to Donald Trump, whether they were really a good candidate or not, received his endorsement and support from Trump’s minions to win the party’s nomination, while truthfully having little chance to win in November.

For Trump and his hard core supporters nothing matters other than unquestioning and fervent loyalty to former President Trump. It has developed into a cult of personality, not much different than what happened during Barack Obama’s run for the presidency back in 2008. The only thing missing from a Trump rally are the little old black ladies fainting in the crowd, emotionally overcome by the oratory, as they did with Obama.

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So how can Republicans learn from the less-than-expected gains of the 2022 mid-terms? Lesson number one is Republicans need to expand their outreach to younger people. The 18-30 year olds, particularly college educated young people apparently came out in large numbers to vote for Democrats. There’s an argument to be made that in some ways young people simply have a much different political philosophy than mainstream Republicans do. Though the two groups are really not that far apart.

Republicans have not learned how to ‘package’ themselves to attract a larger percentage of this increasingly important voting bloc. They better learn. Young people are turned off by seeing the stodgy old dinosaurs like Mitch McConnell and others droning on from the podium of the Senate floor, or talking with the news media. They tune him out and turn the channel.  Republicans need to put a more youthful, and thoughtful face in front of the television cameras.  For crying out loud, wear a ‘hoodie’ instead of a dark blue suit and red tie, the hoodie seems to be all it took in Pennsylvania!

Many of the younger generation also were not fans of former President Trump. Much like what was experienced during the Vietnam era I grew up in when President Nixon was unpopular with the younger generation and college students.  President Nixon was viewed as a distant figure they had nothing in common with.  And just like Nixon, they see Trump as a very distant and a divisive figure, certainly far differently from how most of the people who attend Trump rallies viewed him.

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I have often said that President Trump would have been much more successful had he moderated his often antagonistic behavior towards the Press, and limited his incessant ‘Tweeting’. It was a turn off to many people. More often than not, “less is better”.

How many times have many of us fired off an e-mail or Tweet, then immediately afterwards regretted it? I know I have. Many times Trump fired off a Tweet that upon reflection might have been better not to have been sent at all. It was an obsession with him.

While I appreciated that unlike George W. Bush who rarely defended himself and allowed the news media and Democrats to beat up on him unmercifully, Trump fought back. I would have preferred though to see Trump fight back the way Ronald Reagan did, through subtle humor and a lot of class. Often Reagan’s critics ended up regretting what they said since Reagan was able to deflect their criticism, or turn it around back onto them.

Republicans have a huge challenge ahead. Do they want Donald Trump to continue as the face of the Republican Party?  Or is it time to recognize and thank him for his service, and for his remarkable one-term achievements, and then move on to rebranding the party so that it can be more attractive to all people, including the younger voters?

I certainly don’t envy the Republicans. Trump’s supporters are fanatical in their support for the former president. They cannot accept even minor criticism of him, and react almost violently to anything negative.  The vitriol they can sling at anyone who does exhibit the temerity to point out any faults or flaws is unreal.

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Republicans will need to win them over by continuing pursuit of the very best that ‘Trumpism’ offered, while moving away from the negativity that often accompanied his personality as well. Not an easy needle to thread.

But one that definitely must be done in order to defeat Democrats in 2024, and prevent the Democrats’ continued destruction of our country.

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