Even with a third indictment looming, Donald Trump continues to solidify his dominance over all the other candidates in the Republican presidential primary. In national polls, he averages over fifty percent (which will probably rise when the next indictment actually happens) while his ten competitors all compete for the leftovers—and perhaps a cabinet position in a second Trump administration. Even with more indictments and scandals, it’s unlikely that anything will derail or slow down the runaway Trump Train—and the underwhelming presidential forum in Iowa the other week only reaffirmed this truth.
Even so, hope springs eternal in the hearts of Never-Trump Republican donors. Instead of using their resources for the good of the party, they will continually support dull, artificial candidates with little hope of winning as well as consistently undermine and discredit the very people who make the GOP popular. This is certainly the case with former president Donald Trump, but also with Trump-aligned candidates like Kari Lake, Tudor Dixon, Kelly Tshibaka, and populist conservative media personalities like Tucker Carlson.
As such, in the wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign dissolving into irrelevance, instead of facing up to the reality of what the GOP has become, these same Republican donors are now looking for a fresh face to thwart the former president. According to a recent article in Politico, this fresh face is apparently the 57-year-old Sen. Tim Scott, a bland and forgettable politician who happens to be black. Although most voters who actually know about Scott would consider him a nice enough guy, no one except a clueless Republican donor would claim, “He’s the one guy running who’s got some personality and charisma. His delivery is terrific.”
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Not quite ready to jump on the Tim Scott bandwagon (and a pitiful little wagon is all Scott’s campaign will ever be), conservative media mogul and ardent Never-Trumper Rupert Murdoch privately wants Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin to run for president. Even if Youngkin decides to run, it’s difficult to see how he significantly differs from the other candidates besides being much richer and much taller (6’ 7”). Like Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy, he occasionally fights in the culture wars and seems to exhibit the positives of Trumpian populism without offending sensitive soccer moms in the suburbs.
Somehow, few of these billionaires seem to bother with considering why their first pick, Ron DeSantis, never became a frontrunner in the first place. If they did, they might see how they were the very ones who contributed to his campaign’s demise. In this regard, Compact editor Geoff Shullenberger astutely compares DeSantis to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a rising star of the party who also tried to appeal to both the donors and voters to win the presidency but ended up pleasing no one.
Indeed, the story of the DeSantis presidential campaign is a tragic one. Whereas he was once an effective, independent-minded governor who took action against corrupt officials, supported parents, fought illegal immigration, and saw through the Covid hype, he became a boring, scripted shell of himself who leaned heavily on his charismatic wife and popular conservative influencers to boost his image.
In another time—say, fifteen years ago—men like Scott, Youngkin, or DeSantis would be perfectly fine candidates to represent the GOP and could realistically win the general election. But those days are long over, and it’s nothing short of incredibly wasteful and counterproductive for donors to back them at this point. During a time of rampant corruption, imminent economic collapse, pointless and costly wars, widespread social malaise, and mass propaganda, a clean-cut, inoffensive fellow with a positive message and modest policy agenda doesn’t have a prayer of making it into office, let alone the highest office in the land. In another time—say, fifteen years ago—men like Scott, Youngkin, or DeSantis would be perfectly fine candidates to represent the GOP and could realistically win the general election. But those days are long over.Tweet This
Rather, a candidate today either needs a political machine or mass appeal, preferably both. While Joe Biden has a powerful political machine that enables him to win elections, Trump has mass appeal that makes him a contender. In the 2016 election, Trump was popular enough to win without a real political machine of his own. This was the biggest reason that made elites despise Trump so much. Unlike previous GOP candidates, he didn’t need help from any of them.
However, despite this popularity and a largely successful presidency that brought about economic prosperity, energy independence, and peace in the Middle East, the rules of politics have changed, and Trump will need a political machine to win in 2024. Due to the rise of weaponized government agencies, leftist media gaslighting, and widespread election rigging, there’s no chance Trump will win on popularity alone like he did before. Trump and his endorsed candidates learned this the hard way in the 2020 and 2022 elections.
This means that the ongoing fight between the donor class and Trump needs to end. For that to happen, billionaires like Murdoch and others need to accept their role as benefactors, pledging their financial support to politicians while respecting their independence. They also need to accept the fact that their globalist creeds are destructive, unsustainable, and not worth preserving. The world is changing, and they can either adapt or die. Otherwise, they can expect a future where a totalitarian leftist regime dissolves their wealth, silences their voices, and unleashes chaos in the streets—much like in Venezuela today.
For Trump’s part, he needs to be more diplomatic with potential allies who can help him win. Rather than boast about his popularity and call these people losers, he should make the case that the stakes are high and that they can either try to win an election with him or waste money on nobodies to protect their egos. None of this should involve compromising on his populist agenda but, rather, simply making it less anti-elite.
Working together, Trump and Republican elites would have a good chance of winning the next election. Even if Democrats have become masters of collecting ballots, it’s not unrealistic to think that the millions being spent on hopeless primary campaigns and worthless political consultants could be channeled into effective ballot collection operations for the GOP. As former Trump adviser Stephen Miller warned in an interview two months ago:
we’re going to burn hundreds and millions of dollars here in a primary that we need to be spending, ballot harvesting…. In other words, the money was going to be wasted, trying to take down Donald Trump from all corners should instead be spent registering voters, going to low propensity households, developing a ballot harvesting map, hiring and paying canvassers all the things that the Left is going to do for month-after-month-after-month, while instead we’re playing get Trump. [sic]
Nevertheless, as the stakes for this coming election grow ever higher, Republican elites become ever less serious. If they hope to conserve the virtues of their country as well as their own wealth and influence, they need to swallow their pride, jump off their bandwagons, purchase a first-class ticket on the Trump Train, and ride it to victory. Once again, it’s Trump or bust.
[Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images]