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There Is a Messy Political Divorce on the Horizon

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

There have been endless columns and social media interactions about a great national divorce. There are red states and blue states, Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, and ordinary folk and abject freaks who groom pre-teens. Urban values differ from rural values, and by rural—I mean most of the country. No one supports abortion without limitations and having it be taxpayer-funded, along with the cacophony of progressive idiocy that led to calls for police to be defunded, violent criminals to be released due to bail reforms, and spikes in crime. Normal people want those thugs locked up. 

There are two cultures: one is dominated by wealthy, educated whites, which dominate the cities and coasts—and the other is just the rest of us. For the former, we’re in the way. They do not care that we are being killed at the grocery store, beaten, and wondering if we can pay the bills—being poor is "our fault." Yet, before we go down the rabbit hole again on that discussion, Republicans need to reassure their base they can win elections. And yes, Mr. Trump is part of this therapy session. 

The 2022 elections were a catastrophe. There was the best climate possible for a red tsunami, but one didn't materialize. The best the GOP can walk away with right now is a bare-bones House majority. It is an unacceptable result that’s the fault of the entire leadership, and yes—Mr. Trump shares the blame. Calling election night 2022 a “great evening” is not just wrong—it is delusional. There is an argument that the former president's antics, as entertaining as they are, are starting to induce a level of fatigue in the GOP base.

How can a Republican vote for Democrat Josh Shapiro for governor and Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz for Senate in Pennsylvania? It makes no sense, but it happened. Four Trump counties in the Keystone State—Beaver, Cumberland, Luzerne, and Berks—split that way: voting for Shapiro in one race but Oz in the other. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a Trump stalwart in the House, almost lost her re-election bid. That race has yet to be called; Boebert has finally taken a razor-thin lead.

Candidates that Trump backed mostly lost or did not perform to their expectations, which is a problem, especially in an off-year where the electorate is more Republican. I’ve said this before, but at the time it occurred, it seemed like Trump’s 2016 win was the dawn of a new era. It ushered in a new wave of voters, injected energy into a party base that had just lost two back-to-back presidential contests, and put states in play that have not made Democrats sweat since the 1980s. 

Also, has he lost a step? We mentioned it on the Triggered podcast last week. Trump had grade-A nicknames for his rivals. "Ron DeSanctimonious" falls flat.

Trump’s attacks on DeSantis were unwarranted, along with his swipe at Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. He is going off half-cocked, with even his most loyal stalwarts starting to see that maybe the bull in the China shop routine has run its course. At the same time, I don’t want to open the floor to the establishment types who want to go back to the days of losing with honor, a la Romney and McCain. 

The Trump coalition is immensely valuable, one of the most geographically and politically diverse coalitions in American politics today. They live in areas where elections are decided—which is why Trump used to keep Democratic strategists up at night. Trump’s energy and fundraising prowess are next to none, but you cannot have that without removing the man from the scene, at least right now. I fear that even if, in some off chance, he decides to take a more behind-the-scenes role, the past antics will still stain GOP candidates down the ticket, which, coupled with the die-hard Trump base that’s already infuriated, could spell disaster in 2024. 

The next election is too important to gamble on, especially after the 2022 fiasco. I won’t tell Trump to step aside. Let the primary process play out. But my prediction that he won the primary after the Mar-a-Lago raid, which is still absurd, was way off the mark. The damages to his brand as an election booster have also been severely damaged by this election. A Trump divorce, should that happen, would be messy, not just because of the immediate fallout but because the usual establishment, Never Trump, gravy train types will be trying to re-establish their hold on the GOP.  


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