Updated: Nov 26, 2022
And why we should get it over with sooner rather than later.
In the wake of, depending on your view, either disappointing or disastrous mid-term election results for Republicans, an almost instantaneous strategy was adopted by the establishment Republicans and neverTrumpers to coronate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the de facto presidential candidate for 2024. This effort was both ham-handed and obvious; DeSantis himself carefully kept away from making any comments, playing the “who me? Run for president?” role, but none of this would have happened without his tacit permission. He could have stomped this down faster than a farmer on a slow gopher.
Clearly the establishment, with the backing of the Deep State, think it has President Donald Trump on the ropes. Republicans have had two bad midterms with him ostensibly in charge. His hand-picked senate candidates, from Adam Laxalt (a no brainer, for anyone in Nevada), to Mehmet Oz (a middle choice between unelectable conservative Kathy Barnette and a full-fledged globalist), to Blake Masters (a dark horse, something different in Arizona), to Herschel Walker in Georgia—who is still the only one with votes still out to have a shot, were defeated. The exception was J. D. Vance in Ohio, but he won below both Trump’s 2020 margin and several points below RINO Mike DeWine (Lockdown King). Other senators such as Erick Schmitt in Missouri, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Mike Lee in Utah, or Marco Rubio in Florida were never in any danger. Only Ron Johnson, a fairly loyal Trumper, had a tough go in Wisconsin but won nevertheless.
Trump’s governor picks did well only because he had many in red states such as DeSantis himself, Brian Kemp in Georgia, Greg Abbot in Texas, Sarah Huckabee Sander in Arkansas, and the surprise Joe Lombardo in Nevada. But others such as Rob Mastriano in Pennsylvania, Tudor Dixon in Michigan, Tim Michels in Wisconsin, Christine Drazen in Oregon, and most likely Kari Lake in Arizona came up short. Lee Zeldin in New York was the surprise of the night, running a closer race than did Dixon or Mastriano in a state with four million more Democrats than Republicans. (Zeldin’s turnout also enabled, as of this writing, to apparently flip four U.S. House seats). Overall—and again, all numbers are still fluctuating—it appears that nationally Republicans won a majority of the popular vote by about 4%, despite losing numerous races considered certain flips.
In short, Trump’s endorsement record provided plenty of fodder for opponents to attack him on. (Barack Obama, it should be recalled, had a horrendous lack of coattails). As of this writing, though, it appears that the only pro-impeachment Republican seat to survive both primaries and the general is that of California’s David Valadeo (CA-21). All others were purged, which is a feather in Trump’s cap. But those calling for investigations into the 2020 fraud, including Masters, Lake, Eric Greitens in Missouri, and others were, or appear to be, defeated.
Trump, clearly seeing this for what it was—a pre-primary coup—responded with typical Trumpian statements in which he forcefully and aggressively reminded everyone what he had done for DeSantis (and, later, after Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin piled on, for the Virginia governor as well.) Trump was right, of course, but many—including many of his supporters cringed when he actually said it. Lawyer Robert Barnes, for example, on his podcast said “I would have advised against it, but Trump is Trump.” Meaning: Trump will never just sit and take it or act like a coup is not occurring. That’s precisely what they want him to do. It was exactly what John McCain did when in the midst of the 2008 fiscal meltdown he stopped campaigning as an honorable step while Barack Obama just kept on keepin’ on. Did it cost McCain the presidency? Doubtful, but it certainly didn’t help in any way, shape, or form.
Trump’s social media posts, however, played right into the narrative that he was losing control, isolated, and angry. Of course, no other politician would say or post such things, especially a Republican: they’d just take it and lose gracefully.
Any observer could see the cabal mobilizing to try to take out Trump. First came the various never Trump social media posts about DeSantis as “the future.” Then came Paul Ryan (Ru Paul) with his list of front-runnerss for 2024 that excluded Trump. Then came the vile Lincoln Project (the George Lincoln Rockwell Project, Elementary School Chapter) with its predictable endorsements. Had DeSantis any serious aspirations about running against Trump, he would have repudiated the last immediately. The George Lincoln Rockwell Project’s endorsement is the kiss of death.
Then came all the “analysts” who pointed to how badly Trumpers did in the election, suggesting that only DeSantis can win in 2024. This view, advanced by such globalists and establishment types as Ryan, Nikki Haley, Kurt Schlicter, Ben Shapiro, and the entire staff of the Trump-hating National Review coalesced far too quickly to be organic, and Trump saw what was going on.
But there are massive holes in the “win without Trump” strategy (sometimes falsely advanced with DeSantis as “Trumpism without Trump”). Lawyer Barnes had a powerful analysis of the “Trump voter,” beginning by noting that in general polling Trump ran ahead of all Republican candidates in 2022. Digging into the data from the 2022 election reveals what Richard Baris, The People’s Pundit, polls revealed: a group of independent, working-class, northern voters only interested in voting for Trump. Remember: Trump ran ahead, often way ahead, of Republican candidates in these swing states in 2022 polling. Barnes argued that Trump voters came from former Republicans in rural areas and small towns who left the GOP after the two Bush presidencies. A second major pool of Trump voters were ex-Democrats from industrial cities that became disaffected under Obama. It wasn’t that these groups supported Republicans over Democrats or vice versa: they just didn’t vote at all.
But they did turn out for Trump in 2016. Salena Zito’s book The Great Revolt chronicles these voters, who also came out again in 2020. Yet they did not come out for Republicans in 2018 and appear to have also stayed home in 2022. As Barnes noted in his “Barnes Brief,” “This voter is marginally active in the court of public opinion, and they are more likely to tune into an Alex Jones than Fox News. They disfavor dumb wars overseas, bad trade deals that killed their jobs, generally agnostic on most social issues, have no interest in Hollyweird, and are rarely church-goers.”
Michael Barone and others, looking at the 2016 election, found those voters more disconnected than connected, more isolated than communal, and, as Barnes put it, “more abandoned than chic.” An analysis of Ohio voters called A study of Ohio, called Bellwether Blues by Jonathan Jakubowski, confirmed many of these traits. They tend to tell pollsters “people like me have no power,” and are as willing to blame Republicans as Democrats. They see the Republican party still as the party of the country club and the Bush/Romneys. A party led by Mitch McConnell, Nikki Haley, or any of the 16 people who stood on the stage with Trump in 2016 (except, perhaps, Rand Paul) turn them off. They are equally repulsed by the Iraq War and Clinton’s Somalian adventure as they are by the Democrats’ gender-loonie-ism and affinity for criminals. For the most part, they don’t know how the game in Washington is played (even if Republicans were playing to win), nor do they care. The very fact there is a game being played horrifies them.
They have left their churches and their unions left them. As J. D. Vance described in his masterful Hillbilly Elegy, they are perfectly at home at a Cracker Barrel and may well have close experience with the carnage of drugs on their families, especially fentanyl or pain killers. Many are divorced or never married; fought in one of the many foreign wars; or lost a job when foreign competition drove out American industry. If you want to know who these Trump voters are, read Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, which describes the exact opposite in D.C. and the coastal cities: people from a uniformly identical social class and education background who literally would never even interact with someone outside their group if they did not buy their own coffee at Starburqa or pick up their own dry cleaning. Think here of Nancy Pelosi (Botoxic) and her super giant-sized freezer stocked with gallons of the most expensive ice cream you can imagine, when, if they are lucky enough to even afford ice cream, our Trump voters will buy Kroger brand or maybe Blue Bell.
These voters are deeply suspicious of the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates, vaxxes and anything to do with the United Nations. They see in Trump not just a panoply of issues they agree with—and don’t kid yourself, they agree with him almost entirely on securing the border, bringing back American jobs, gun ownership, celebrating Christianity, and avoiding foreign wars—but they also admire his brusque, often semi-rude attitude that turns off the suburban Karens. This is, after all, how they talk. What’s wrong with that? Can’t we just be real?
The Paul Ryan/Tea Party rebellions of 2010 and 2014 were mostly focused on economic issues, but were repackaged to the base as tax cuts. Now, I’m all in favor of tax cuts. I never met a tax cut I didn’t like. But tax cuts will never again win an election. We are way beyond that: societal decay and exploding crime; a border invasion aided and abetted by the so-called president and his attorney general; giveaways to Ukraine that are totally a 21st century of the Credit Mobilier money laundering scam that comes back to the war elements of both parties (think Tom Cotton and John Cornyn here); and rampant transoidism in public schools have buried the carrot of tax cuts under a mountain of social dung and international slime.
A civil war is coming within the GOP. Elite snoots cannot for long think they can ignore a very, very sizeable portion of voters who will only turn out for Donald Trump, or worse, denigrate them at every opportunity. The utter spoogilistic failure of the GOP leadership this time around further exposes their weakness. To the ramparts!
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Dragonslayers: Six Presidents and their War with the Swamp, and founder of the Wild World of History (www.wildworldofhistory.com), a site for curriculum in both U.S. and World History for high schoolers.