Back at it: We are in an odd place. The Trump presidential era is in the process of ending but Donald Trump remains a master at keeping himself in the news. His pronouncements from Mar-A-Lago are faithfully reported by the media. They make it clear that he intends to intervene in the 2022 congressional elections to punish Republican candidates who have failed to back his claim of “victory” in 2020.

Donald Trump will back his own candidates in Republican House districts and in Senate races across the country in order to defeat Republicans who failed to join him in lying about the election results. It will be a naked exercise in revenge. It will also guarantee him free publicity until that election and, will help to sustain the impression that he can continue to dominate the Republican Party.

Trump seems to be reemerging. He will be the major speaker at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) convention in Orlando next Sunday (February 28). That speech along with the responding uproar from the screaming crowd will put him once more in the headlines. Trump’s problem is that that CPAC convention will probably be the high point of his post presidential life. After that things will begin to go dark.

They will go dark because Trump will increasingly find himself occupied with legal and business challenges that have been waiting just off-stage while he was in office. Now it will be time to face the legal problems he has worked so hard to avoid. When that happens, any intense political involvement will become a distraction.

It should begin to dawn on people that the Trump political crusade is probably a trip to no where. Getting hired to govern in democracies is based on winning a majority of voters. It is reasonable to expect that there will be a great number of Trumpian political hopefuls making pilgrimages to Mar-A-Lago. Some of those people may go back home, organize real primary campaigns, and defeat Republicans who have failed to please the President in Exile.

The number of people who vote in primaries is so small that some of those pilgrims may defeat Republicans already in office and become the actual Republican candidates. They will then run in the November election and lose! Among the much larger numbers of voters who vote in regular elections there will be very little support for Trumpian true believers.

We will hear a great deal over the next few days about the effort of Donald Trump to back his own preferred candidates and about the effort of Mitch McConnell, the now Republican Minority Leader in the Senate, to stop him. McConnell’s resistance is understandable. The Democrats have slight plurality in the House and a tie (50–50) in the Senate (Democrats have a technical majority because the Democratic Vice-President can break ties). The next election, now less than two years away, could give McConnell his iron control of the Senate once again.

He can only regain that control if the Republicans regain control of the Senate. That means that endless news over the next two years about Trump’s favored candidates spouting about radical socialists, and the dangers from the imaginary Antifa (there isn’t any Antifa), will hardly help McConnell. If those candidates happen to be Q-Anon supporters that will make them even more politically toxic. To McConnell, Trump’s recruiting means that his chances of once more becoming Majority Leader are apt to go a-glimmering. It means that Trump’s need for revenge makes a strengthened Democratic control of the Congress more likely.

There is a lesson in all this. To be hired by the voters requires real majorities. It isn’t hard to win primaries. To win real elections requires something at least close to majorities. Trump did that in 2016. In 2022 his candidates could win primaries. They will probably lose elections. If Trump does try to run in 2024 he could win primaries easily. His chance of winning the election afterward is truly grim!

H.J. Rishel


Retired political science professor of 40+ years. Educated at Olivet, UofM, MSU, Northwestern, & Harvard. Hoping to make politics a fun & exciting topic for all

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