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Tipsheet

Liberal Writer Knows Why Trump Will Lose in 2024...And It's None of the Obvious Reasons

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Salon is not friendly territory for Republicans or conservatives, but they do have good pieces every now and then. Yes, even this left-wing publication had a great article defending Trump’s remarks about immigration and how the media was grossly misinterpreting his comments about Mexico and other nations sending their rapists to our country. The best part was that a person supporting Bernie Sanders at the time wrote it. 

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It's more scathing, and to a die-hard Trump supporter, they’d probably stop reading after the paragraph where the writer suggests that January 6 was a big deal, the hearings mattered, and the outcome could impact Trump’s future as a free man. The article was penned before Christmas, so you know the findings didn’t matter—the Department of Justice isn’t going to charge Trump with anything. Like the rest of the country, they know it’s a pyrrhic endeavor. Yet, what Sophia McClennen, who penned the piece, highlighted was that Trump could lose, or in her words, will lose, the 2024 race because he’s becoming boring. She does point out accurately that becoming stale is a “cardinal sin” of reality television:

If you've missed seeing these signs, that's because folks have overlooked the fact that Trump was and always will be a media-created president.  I don't just mean he's a politician who gets media attention. I mean that he's nothing more than a TV actor playing a president in a reality series. 

Think about it. From Day One the main reason Trump catapulted upward in the 2016 race was because he knew how to manipulate his media coverage, control the narrative and mesmerize his audience. In those early days it totally worked.

Building off years on one of the most well-known and successful reality TV franchises, "The Apprentice," which Trump hosted on NBC from 2004 to 2015, he translated those skills into a media spectacle campaign. He knew from experience that the key was to keep the audience watching. Reality TV reviewer Andy Dehnart explains: "Part of what makes reality TV so compelling is its unpredictability, and not really knowing what will happen when cameras start rolling." 

As Trump was spewing outrageous comments and completely transforming the traditional political campaign script, he was amassing supporters (that is, viewers) who found his style fresh and exciting. While few media commentators initially understood how Trump's combination of unpredictability and entertainment was attracting support, John Oliver and Michael Moore both recognized that those qualities made him a formidable candidate early on. It's worth reflecting on the fact that it was entertainers who understood the special ingredient in Trump's 2016 campaign. 

But if Trump was able to effectively mount a reality TV campaign that got him elected in real life back in 2016, he forgot that in order to have another successful season, you have to follow the rules of good television. In the case of a series, you have to find a way to keep it fresh without being totally gonzo. Instead, he's made both mistakes: He is both boring and unconvincingly over-the-top. 

Today Trump is literally breaking every rule required to keep a show going into multiple seasons.

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I’ve never really thought of Trump as the reality tv president as a knock, though liberals always got a chuckle from it. It’s just a gross lack of self-awareness regarding how voters view their representatives—it is reality television. It’s loaded with clowns, both hated and distrusted by the electorate, a voter base that expects these people to become vile hypocrites and swamp creatures. Corruption is not an outlier—it’s an event that everyone expects these leaders to become engulfed in the fullness of time; they expect them to lie. To this day, it’s not the crime that gets these people in trouble; since it’s expected, it’s the cover-up. 

Has the Donald become tedious? The House floor mayhem over the speakership brought back the ballsy and hilarious posts that earned the man his following built through Twitter. Yet, McClennen does point out that the first season, the 2016 election, resonated with voters and got him the presidency. Season two has been a monumental disappointment, not least because he lost re-election. Trump has become stale to enough voters that they won’t usher his allies into power. The Left and RINOs will argue abortion torpedoed the GOP’s chances in 2022. It was soporific campaigning, poor messaging, and voters incredibly wary of Matt Gaetz-like candidates taking the reins of power. The House speakership battle royale vindicated that hesitation, though I couldn’t care less. Kevin McCarthy knew he didn’t have the votes coming in; the GOP leadership remains incompetent, so they deserved to sweat it out a bit. I also like bomb throwers on the Hill, though I get most don’t. 

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Americans are being hammered by inflation and the economic recession induced by Joe Biden’s agenda. Voters may not like Biden and the Democrats, but they’re a picture of stability, an image that won out in the end. 

I don’t think Trump is boring, but a considerable narrative that benefitted him in 2016 as an outsider is now gone. Thus far, the former president hadn’t capitalized on the new 2024 message tailor-made for him by the FBI and the Department of Justice when they ransacked his home last summer. Yet, that window has long closed, and he’s turned his attention to taking nasty swipes at Ron DeSantis. Trump’s ability to name-call—Lyin’ Ted Cruz being one of the best—has also degraded. 

‘Ron DeSanctimonious’ was not well-received, even by hardcore Trump supporters who saw the jab as reckless, unnecessary, and desperate. It was an Antonio Brown-like move, and it didn’t resonate. The ongoing fixation on the 2020 election could make Trump’s schtick dull. I view it as something akin to Obama’s birth certificate. It was something that some hardcore folks clung to, but it was never going anywhere. Obama was never going to be removed from office since he was born in Hawaii. Biden isn’t going to be removed from office, even if courts rule that some illegal election laws were tweaked during the pandemic. It’s 2023—focus on booting Biden next year, where the GOP better have a solid ballot-harvesting operation.

I hate it, but it’s become necessary, given the climate. Even though it’s arguably quasi-voter fraud, it’s legal. No federal ban is coming, and even in states where I'd thought there would be a suitable testing balloon in prohibiting such a practice, like Pennsylvania and Michigan, Democrats made solid gains in those respective legislatures in 2022—Michigan is under total Democratic rule. 

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I’ll close with this: I’ll probably vote for whoever wins the primary, be that Trump or DeSantis, and there will be no debate come Election Day 2024. I’m voting Republican, but there might be something to Trump’s 2016 persona not being able to carry over to 2024. Many television spin-offs don’t do well. Will it be the same for politics? Or will Trump have to realize that becoming boring comes with the territory now, that 2016 was a watershed moment for which there was no room for it to be franchised—a true one-and-done deal? The man is a former president—and the sequel never does as well as the original. 

Debate among yourselves. Again, I still love the man no matter what, but he’s not soaking up the cycle as he used to, but I’m willing to revisit this when the 2024 gears start turning more rapidly.

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