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OPINION

Two Paths For The GOP In 2023. One Leads To Hope, The Other To Disaster

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File

With the dawn of a new year comes the traditional time for political pundits to prognosticate. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that’s never been as easy as it is right now. In sum, my crystal ball for pretty much everything spells out that things - and by ‘things’ I mean everything by every metric you can imagine culturally, economically, and politically - are going to be worse this time next year than they are right now. 

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This isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t take any special skills other than the basic knowledge that, despite the slim House majority that will certainly herald a few good tidings on the preventative, investigative, and ‘symbolic legislation that has zero chance of becoming law’ fronts, Democrats and crazed leftists are in charge of far too much of the government for 2023 to possibly go well or even begin to show signs of improvement.

That said, there are two political paths the Republican Party will have to choose between by this time next year. One heralds a hope - however slim - for the GOP to retake the White House and begin to save the country. The other leads to the almost absolute certainty of yet another presidential election loss and another four years in the political wilderness being ruled by overlords hellbent on running what’s left of Western civilization in this country into the ground.

So, however, grim things may look now, there’s a lot at stake in 2023 that could make things either grimmer or herald a real light at the end of the tunnel. What paths am I referring to? You’ve probably already guessed: The choice between former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to lead GOP presidential aspirations in 2024. 

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Sure, we may not officially know who will be the nominee by this time next year, but I submit that we’ll have a pretty good idea based on a set of 2023 happenings. But before we delve into that, let’s go over the stakes. On the one hand, we have a very likely scenario where Trump survives any disqualifying legal action against him and chooses to remain in the race. If you think the powers-that-be are going to purposely take him out of the game and throw away an almost certain electoral victory, I’ll have what you’re smoking. No, the only thing that’ll keep Donald Trump from remaining in the race is Donald Trump himself, and the only thing that would possibly make Donald Trump willingly withdraw is a clear vision of the possibility of a GOP primary loss via clear, consistent polling.

Absent such polling, Trump likely stays in the race. Should he win, this means an almost certain loss to President Joe Biden or whoever else the Democrats put forth, including Kamala Harris, John Fetterman, or an assorted eggplant. You can whine all you want, but the fact is that Trump, through his actions, has made himself unelectable to over 50% of the population, the vast majority of whom would rather see a random homeless person plucked off the streets of San Francisco occupy the Oval Office than him. And even if you wanted to dispute that, I’d like to see you explain how the former president is going to win Arizona (land of the McCain voter) and Georgia (Brian Kemp & Raphael Warnock country), two states he’ll have to win to even begin to have a shot. So that’s not happening. If Trump wins the GOP primary, the GOP loses the presidential election. Full stop. There is ZERO path for a second Trump term, and the sooner primary voters can dump the understandable 2016 nostalgia (I have it too!) and get this through their heads, the better.

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Enter Ron DeSantis, the only politician with a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating Trump in a GOP primary. In a crowded race - and we’ll know just how crowded it is by this time next year - Trump has a shot to win the primary with his base of support, even if that support is just 25-35% of GOP voters. If you’ll recall, that’s exactly what happened in 2016. However, if DeSantis can emerge quickly and others choose to stay out of the race, he has an increasingly strong chance to build momentum with some early wins and knock Trump off his pedestal.

While a DeSantis general election victory certainly isn’t a given, the odds are astronomically higher than Trump’s. Sure, there will be cheating. There’s always some cheating. The key is to win outside the margins of shenanigans and make it as difficult as possible for them to take place. (The other keys are to avoid pettiness and offputting behaviors that turn people off and take one leftist scalp after another while running an important swing state that you recently turned blood red, but DeSantis already has those down pat.)

Depending first on whether the popular Florida governor chooses to run (he needs to, as this Washington Examiner piece makes abundantly clear), polling, and how many other Republicans choose to put their hats in the ring, my suspicion is we’ll have a pretty good idea this time next year of where the GOP, and the country, is headed. Let’s hope that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train.

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