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OPINION

The 'Trump' Card

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

All indications right now are that during the upcoming primary season for the 2024 Republican nomination, former President Donald Trump is going to return to the tactics that he used for his 2016 primary campaign for president. Those tactics primarily consisted of calling his opponents names, levying insults and personal attacks, and denigrating his opponents’ qualifications and previous job performance.

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Which is somewhat curious to me since in some cases he hired them for his administration, which would call into question his own judgment in hiring them if they are as bad as he now says.  The only thing missing so far is him sloshing a bottle of water around during a campaign rally, and defending his manhood and the size of his small hands.

The Trump antics that endeared him to so many of his die hard supporters also turned off a very large number of other potential voters. A large enough number that simply can’t be made up in any tightly contested election. For whatever it’s worth nowadays, multiple polls show that at least ten percent of Republicans will not vote for former President Trump under any circumstances. When one hundred percent of the other party despises you, one cannot afford to give up that much of your own party and still be successful.

So what can Trump do to turn things around and win back that ten percent, plus as many of the ‘middle-of-the-road independents’ he’s going to need in order to win in 2024? Probably things that he’s simply not capable of doing, like moderating his behavior and acting more ‘presidential’.

His die hard supporters who attend his rallies love his antics and he feeds off of that. But it’s to the detriment of him being able to attract other potential voters he’s going to need to support him so that he can defeat whomever the Democrats nominate (and it won’t be Joe Biden this time). Trump will always have his core base, but he needs to attract more than just them to succeed.

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If Trump were to focus on his plans for the future, to describe in detail the policies he intends to implement that will make America safer and the lives of Americans better, and to mention without overselling his successes during his first term, he might have a chance of winning over some voters who currently have a negative impression of him. His claims of everything he did as “the greatest” just turns a lot of people off. One can point out their successes without coming across as a braggart. He needs to get his ego in check. Highly unlikely that he can do that.

There’s no doubt that President Trump will go down in history as probably the most significant one term president in American history. He accomplished more in four years than many presidents have done in eight years. He has much to be proud of about his time in office. But he will also be recognized as the most politically disruptive president in history. Not to say that our politics doesn’t need a little shaking up, it certainly does. But there are better ways of accomplishing that than going to all-out war with your political adversaries, and even many in your own party.

President Ronald Reagan achieved some great things too, and he did it by cultivating a relationship with Democrats, as well as some within his own party who weren’t as supportive of his vision for America. President Reagan used to have the Democrat House Speaker Tip O’Neil over to the White House in the evening for a cold beer. They were able to iron out some differences, as well as work together to pass significant legislation by simply compromising instead of bumping heads all the time.

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Certainly I’m not suggesting that a similar tactic would have worked for President Trump. Hell, I wouldn’t invite Nancy Pelosi or any of the current Democrat leadership over to my house for anything, I have neighbors and a reputation to uphold. But President Trump’s combative nature made it impossible for him to develop any kind of relationship with the Democrats, or even much of his own party for that matter.

I’m no fan of Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, or any of the other current RINOs occupying seats in the House and the Senate. But had Trump worked to develop a better relationship with them we might not have witnessed then Senator John McCain proudly casting the deciding ‘No’ vote that prevented getting rid of the ‘Obamination’ called the Affordable Care Act. I’m convinced that McCain’s ‘No’ vote was cast more in spite towards Trump than in any support he felt for ObamaCare.

At this point in time and unless things change, I firmly believe that former President Trump will not defeat any ‘reasonable-appearing’ Democrat that is nominated as the party’s standard-bearer in 2024. All of his accomplishments during his four years in office are now just simply ‘old news’. We live in a ‘what have you done for me lately’ political environment. His claims of a stolen election - whether true or not - have worn thin with most Americans who are not among his die hard supporters. They’re tired of hearing about it and just want to move forward with a new candidate who is not as divisive. People also want to move on from all the drama associated with Donald Trump.

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Could former President Trump do a good job if given the chance to occupy the White House once again?  Probably.  But he won’t be given the chance. There’s just too much negativity against him.  The former president could go a long way towards rehabilitating his legacy by ending his ‘Quixoti-like’ quest to return to the White House, and to throw his support behind a Republican candidate who has a better chance of defeating the Democrats in 2024. There’s much he could do as a senior statesman to advise and assist the new president.  Hopefully he and his supporters will realize that his true value in the future lies more behind the scenes, than front-and-center in a lost cause.

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