Jim Geraghty has posted a thoughtful response to my suggestion that Tom Cotton might make the most natural ideological successor to Trump, and thus might be the figure most likely to keep the Trump coalition together. My suggestion was a response to Geraghty’s article arguing that there is “no natural ideological successor” because “there will be no one. . .able to bring together the same factions in the same way.” I suggested that Cotton might be able to keep the Trump coalition together, though not in the same way as Trump.
In his latest article, Geraghty agrees that Cotton is an “interesting option.” He wonders, though, whether Cotton can effectively and appealingly present the Trump agenda.
It seems fair to wonder how much of the appeal of “Trumpism” is tied up in the president’s approach to the job (and perhaps life): combative, boastful, unpredictable, constantly surrounded by drama, itching to lash out at critics, fully embracing the culture war, reacting to popular culture, and basically bringing a circus-like atmosphere to the once-staid and formal world of presidential politics.
I think a fair amount of Trumpism’s current appeal is as Geraghty describes it. My hope is that by 2024 Trump’s substantive agenda will have brought America enough success (“winning”) that it can be sold by a less “Trumpian” personality. And, to the extent that Trump fatigue sets in (a normal development in a two-term presidency), Trump’s agenda pushed by someone like Tom Cotton might have extra appeal.
This assumes Trump is reelected. If he isn’t the analysis is different, but still doesn’t rule out Tom Cotton as the best hope of maintaining something like the current Trump coalition.