In recent days I’ve been nagged by what I heard a pundit say about a potential GOP Presidential hopeful – a prediction that like others they’d wait until 2028.
Wait Till 28.
Think about that. Yes, I know we have some declared candidates not named Trump on the GOP side. Including as of today Ron DeSantis. Here and elsewhere other possible candidates have been mentioned as maybe deciding to give it a try. Even going so far as to make quiet trips to Iowa and New Hampshire. And either show up or talk to folks at gatherings of big donors. Testing the waters so to speak.
I’m calling bullsh*t on them all right here and now whether declared or not.
You don’t win a boxing title by dancing around dodging most of the sitting champ’s punches the entire fight and landing a few more jabs, not hard punches but jabs. No, you have to get in there and fight. Trade blows. Make it clear YOU are the superior fighting in the ring. You have to TAKE that title – by BEATING (literally) the champ and do so in such a manner it’s obvious to the judges, and anyone watching. There isn’t a single Republican candidate either declared or teasing folks about running willing to do that with Trump. He knows it. And he knows THEY know it.
So for most of them why run at all? Ok, they might hope for some luck as in Trump gets taken out by someone else, or even that he up and dies. But for a while now the thinking has I believe been “set myself up for 2028.
What’s actually happening and what’s going to continue happening? With the exception perhaps of Chris Christie who has actually attacked Trump multiple times and shows no indications he’ll stop none of the people who have or might be running against Trump are willing to rip him to pieces. As for Christie, he hasn’t declared or given much indication (as far as I know – someone correct me if I’m wrong) he will do so. So he doesn’t really count. All the rest might offer what at best has been lukewarm criticism of Trump and then turned right around and watered it down. If not retracted it, or claiming people “misinterpreted” it. They are scared, TERRIFIED in fact that Trump will cut loose on them and that careers they’ve invested years of effort in building will be OVER.
This has been conservative’s problem all along. Initially most conservatives didn’t take Trump’s 2016 candidacy any more seriously than late night comedians did. It was a fad they thought. He’ll just be himself and say or do something so stupid, so outrageous that his campaign will implode. He’s just in it for publicity and to raise money. Ok, so on that last one they were right. For a very long time, even up to the actual election when it dawned on Trump he actually had a shot at winning the whole venture was more about expanding his brand into politics and opening up a whole new line of grifting, perhaps even with some cable channel that would be “Trump TV.”
There was alarm in establishment circles when after the initial primaries Trump was not only still there but suddenly getting lots of new support from goobers all over the country. Trump suddenly had become popular and was gaining support including with the all important Independent voters. People who’d become disenchanted and if they hadn’t already stopped voting wouldn’t bother this time. Trump was getting attention. The GOP was getting donations, especially the kind of small dollar donors Democrats has already mastered tapping into thanks to Obama. So the GOP establishment faced a choice – cut Trump and his campaign off at the knees (and they had more than one way to do so) or “jump on the train?” Obviously they chose the latter.
Had the Democratic candidate been anyone other the Hillary Clinton I will always believe the GOP would have made a different decision. (I initially liked much of what Bernie had to say but I worked for and voted for Hillary)
The old-school hands in the GOP, both politicians and donors thought they could control Trump. They were warned of course they were wrong, including from some in their own ranks. But they tried, including using the time between the convention and the election to set up a transition (just in case) to surround Trump with “adults” should he somehow win. By all accounts, despite none other than Chris Christie who it seemed Trump thought should be VP getting cast aside thanks to Jared’s grudge (Christie was the prosecutor who put his dad in federal prison) a terrific transition plan was developed and ready to go. And again, Jared’s influence got the whole thing tossed in the trashcan.
The transition was a disaster. Still, the brain trust and influencers in the GOP managed to get a few “adults” around Trump. James Mattis, who’d distinguished himself in the Marines for SecDef. (For those who don’t know Mattis did NOT like the nickname “Mad Dog”) Rex Tillerson at State too. Not that that he would be great. He did take the job via a deal. Hollow out State, and in return he’d be able to help shape U.S. policy in favor of his pals in fossil fuels and much up international cooperation on Renewable Energy. But he at least understood the value of alliances like NATO.
Reince Priebus got installed as Chief of Staff, again so the semi-sensible old school conservatives would have a seasoned hand controlling access to Trump and ensuring some semblance of normalcy to the workflow of the Oval Office. Stupid choice for them to have pushed because he was never made of the kind of stuff that would allow him to last in the face of Trump’s impulses and manage the kind of staff infighting Trump has always loved. But John Kelley who’d been installed in another key positions (DHS) moved over and at times he was able to at least reduce the chaos. Luckily the Mike Flynn disaster was over in roughly two “Scarmuccis” (a term yet to be coined) and H.R. McMaster was shoehorned in as National Security Advisor. .
For all that what the rest of us feared came to pass – even in the best of White Houses some of the best people get worn out and move on. Worse, as time went on Trump learned more and more about how much he could get away with. Just how afraid the rest of the GOP was of him. What little wobbly control that existed vanished. Conservatives blew their chance to stop Trump in the primaries. When they had a golden chance with his first impeachment they blew it again, despite the belief his chances at re-election were slim if not none.
Well before election day it was apparent Trump wouldn’t go quietly. Maybe how much “noise” he would make took many conservatives by surprise but they blew yet another chance to slap him down and force him to accept defeat and allow at least some transition work to proceed. However, instead of publicly rebuking and repudiating him for his antics and refusal to allow a transition, they decided to “humor” him. Their reasoning was “He’s going to be in the rearview mirror soon so let him have his “last hurrah” and ‘MAGA moment.’ What’s the harm?”
Again I have to say boy did they ever get that wrong!
It was sometimes said Trump was a cancer introduced into the GOP and as time went on the Trump cancer metastasized. Not a bad analogy. However, it’s turned into not just a cancer but a whole new disease. If not a full-blown hemorrhagic fever yet it’s about to become one.
Trump shattered one norm after another. And took public delight (as did MAGAs) as he did so. Through a combination of intent and incompetence he crippled institutions and agencies, diplomatic alliances and who knows what else? The proverbial “butcher’s bill” has yet to be completed.
But I can’t write about this without bringing up the fact that the GOP had one last chance to ensure Trump was out of elected politics forever. That he could never again hold a public Office. In the wake of January 6, and insurrection/coup he incited (and surely knew would happen and gave his approval. We all, including most conservatives know it!) there was a second impeachment. In that one some GOP Senators made history, voting to convict a member of their own Party. Mitch McConnell could have engineered enough votes to ensure the total for conviction got up to the magic number of 67. And chose not to. He was more focused on personal ambition, the reclaiming the Majority Leader position he hoped to hold until he died or retired.
Rationalization is a powerful trait in human beings. Our capacity to rationalize often leads to bad things both for ourselves and others. So, even after January 6 Republicans including some who when the certification process reconvened made “It’s time to move past Trump” statements between then and that second impeachment vote walked it all back. Trump kept the MAGAs inflamed, and they lacked the courage to “kill the beast.” They weren’t willing to risk their position (whether elected or in other positions of influence such as the RNC or State GOP organizations) of getting tossed out.
They rationalized that it would all wear off. That Trump would eventually lose all his court challenges and at worst play gadfly now and then to grift himself some coin. That for a while he’d huff and puff but wouldn’t actually follow through and run for the Presidency a third time, especially after what happened in the midterms. And again they were wrong and we were right! Still, there were folks like Pence, and of course DeSantis who figured that even if he gave it another shot Trump would give up at some point – and they wanted to be the one to take over.
If it wasn’t long ago, by a few months ago it became clear Trump has no intention of going away. He intends to remain head of the GOP and be the nominee. And will destroy anyone and everything including what’s left of the old GOP to that end. And here is where I get to the concept of the Trump Cancer morphing into something else. Something that’s worse.
Even for those who intended to run there was from the get-go a hedging of their bet – to run without taking on Trump. To appease him. Just in case. Just as importantly, if not more so the idea was to even if Trump got pi$$Y at them for running at all, the blowback from him would die down once he was nominated and they pledged their undying love for and fealty towards him. And that the MAGAs would forgive them!
Hence the “Wait Till 28” strategy I believe has infected the lot of them.
Running against Trump on a “I believe in everything he does, have supported him all along and will do everything in my power on his behalf if he’s our nominee” platform is weak tea to say the least. So why do it? Easy. Make it a “practice run.” Gain name recognition combined with some contacts around the country to organize for 2028.
It’s a repeat of the “let him have his last hurrah” thinking that took place during the transition, combined with the fear of MAGAs instilled in the wake of J6. It’s a “let him have another term and I’ll spend it sucking up to him and MAGA to get anointed as the heir apparent” strategy.” It’s the most dangerous, huge rationalization I can imagine. If Trump somehow gets back into the WH, even if it takes armed uprisings around the country to stop voters in some places from voting at all, to throw out ballots in places that will vote heavily against him and even have legislatures set aside legitimate results and send not just electors but enough GOPs to Congress to make it happen it will be our last election.
That’s how deadly to the GOP and frankly the entire country and free world the “Wait Till 28” disease is.
The only hope of stopping it is for Trump to be taken out. By the GOP! There isn’t a single person/candidate in the GOP that can do it. It would have to be a group effort. Supported by big money donors and yes, Fox News and other Murdoch outlets. His upcoming criminal and civil trials will weaken him and give them their chance. Will they seize it? I have strong doubts. Instead I have fears that once again the GOP will let the moment/opportunity pass. That they will rationalize that another Trump candidacy and even term won’t be as bad as everyone (including them when they are honest with themselves) fear. To let him have yet another “last hurrah.” To look ahead to 2028 to start fixing things.
“Wait Till 28” disease will be the death of the GOP. And the American Experiment.
Sadly, GOPers including and especially Presidential candidates are like some stubborn fool who tries to climb over an old fence and opens a nasty gash on their hand. They manage to stop the bleeding but don’t even bother to wash out and disinfect the wound for hours. Then infection sets in. Instead of healing it gets red, and swollen and eventually starts oozing nasty yellowish gunk. Any rational person would at this point finally go see a doctor. But not this person. They rationalize that just washing their hand and the wound with plain old regular soap and water will make it all better as day after day the pain gets greater. Even as the see veins running up their arm turning black, and their wrist and arm swelling up like their hand and the pain getting worse by the hour they STILL refuse medical treatment. In part because they will both get a scolding from the doctor and in part because they know the treatment will be both brutal and costly. By the time they relent and go to the ER, fighting a raging fever and trying to keep from passing out if they’re lucky they only lose their arm. And a bunch of tissue past where the arm and shoulder join the body. But sometimes it’s too late and they die.
That’s where GOPers are when it comes to Trump. MAGAs are beyond reaching. But they are only part of the conservative movement, not to mention Independents that might vote for a sane GOP candidate. It would mean writing off at least one and probably two general elections to do what needs to be done. But they will almost certainly once again rationalize their way into giving the current paradigm one more, “last” shot.
Thanks to this new “Wait Till 28” disease.
You are right, the disease has metastasized. What I mean is trumpism. All the wannabes are doing their best to act like he did when he was in office. Also, the self-appointed book banners that are trying to take over school boards. Not to mention activist judges, who presume to know better than scientists. I fear they are systematically dismembering our country.
I think the correct vote is “None of the above and including Trump” is the only way for intelligent R after are there any left?