The Case for Trumptimism

Holy cow! I take the day off to visit a Fox News studio to unload on Kamala Harris for a solid hour for a forthcoming documentary (I’ll make an announcement when it airs—the other analysts interviewed include Victor Davis Hanson and Peter Schweizer), and Scott and John go Full Eeyore on us with regard to everyone’s favorite RICO defendant, one Donald John Trump. Funny—his name doesn’t even rhyme with Rico, the name RICO actions are meant for.

I’ll declare my priors: I prefer a candidate who can serve two full terms, because continuity in office is necessary for any ambitious program to overturn the administrative state. Think of what Reagan’s legacy would have been if he had handed off to George H.W. Bush in 1984. (Hint: Bush would have squandered it—as in fact he did from 1989-1993.) And Trump can only serve a single term if elected again. Scenarios of his next vice president, who I solidly predict won’t be Mike Pence, easily succeeding him in 2028 should be viewed with great skepticism.

Second, Scott’s case is cogent, and correct on one major point: in the absence of January 6, Trump would be 10 points ahead of Biden right now. Conrad Black, a friend of Trump’s, recommended around January 1 that Trump should adopt the Andrew Jackson stance, concede the outcome without conceding its correctness, and say that having exhausted his remedies for contesting the election, he’d be back in 2024. He would not have to abandon his thesis of a corrupt election. He could campaign on fixing our elections in 2024 so Americans never again have reason to doubt their rectitude. This is necessary even if everything about the 2020 election was legitimate. It would be forward-looking instead of complaining solely about the last election.

The survey results Scott cites certainly offer powerful evidence of the imprudence of nominating Trump again. And yet. . .

Let’s consider some facts that argue the case for what I call “Trumptimism” as distinct from optimism. (As podcast listeners know, “Lucretia” likes to attack me for being an “infernal optimist.” Let’s see what she makes of this!)

  1. Trump is today, quite simply, the dominant and defining political figure in the world. Full stop. He’s almost Hegelian. In some way that can’t be rationally explained (which would make Hegel’s head explode, but that’s part of the fun), it is hard to see how he can be stopped. Like Patton in that great scene in the movie, he must be allowed to fulfill his destiny. It would not surprise me at all if, against all odds and indictments, he ends up back in the White House in 2025. Homer nods—along with Hegel.
  2. The surveys Scott notes are likely correct in conveying general negative public sentiment about Trump. If the election is decided on assessments of Trump’s character, he loses. But. . .
  3. If the election is a referendum on Biden against Trump, it is surely much closer. Consider: I think there was only one reputable poll in 2016 that found Trump ahead in the popular vote, and in 2020 there were no polls that ever found him ahead. In the last few months there have been several reputable polls showing Trump ahead of Biden, in some cases by 5 points or more. The indictments have blunted that position. But several polls this week still put Biden ahead by just 1 point—essentially a dead heat. If Trump and Biden are only 1 point apart in November of next year, Trump wins. Worth remembering, too, that down-ballot Republicans mostly ran ahead of Trump in both 2016 and 2020.
  4. It is astounding that with all the indictments of Trump, he’s still polling even with Biden. (See Point #1 above.)
  5. The hazard for Trump and Republicans is if Democrats pull a bait and switch, and push Biden and Harris aside in favor of a younger ticket (Newsom-Klobuchar, or Polis-Whitmer/Whitmer-Polis), which would likely defeat Trump.

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