Four dead. The Capitol trashed. An attempted coup. It would be some consolation to think that the Trump 2024 campaign would just crawl away into some corner in shame never to be glimpsed again. And yet an overnight flash poll by YouGov suggests that 45 per cent of Republicans support the storming of Capitol Hill; his base is still there and, in the menacing words left on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, “we will not back down”.
The Trump legacy is appalling. He should retire to the golf course, spend more time with his bizarre family and donate the $250m (£183m) he’s raised since he lost in November to a charity helping refugees.
I wouldn’t be so sure. Certainly Trump could never win power again, now he has shown his true fascistic colours. He is surely now too frightening to contemplate exercising such power? In fact, he might find it challenging to get onto reality TV again. But that does not mean he won’t try and win the Republican nomination. The uncomfortable truth for America is that too many, albeit a minority, still support him, still believe the election was rigged, and would still like to see him back, presumably installed as a semi-dictator.
Could it happen? The base is ready to do anything for him, including staging an insurrection. Could the Republican Party stop a second coming of Trump? Who owns the Republican Party anyway? Is it Trump? Which bunch of Republicans in Congress represent their party – the senators and members of the house, or the mob with supremacist flags and tattoos who took the place over? Mitch McConnell or the bloke with horns on his head?
A Trump 2024 campaign, whether or not it succeeded in getting the Trump the nomination would split the GOP, maybe for good. No doubt Trump might find a chancer like Josh Hawley or Ted Cruz to join him on the ticket, recruit a well-meaning retired general to back him, and some other clowns to be media spokespeople and the like. He might get to be the official nominee. What Trump would not have is much other support among the party’s leadership and whatever is left of its sensible membership and donors. The party would divide upon itself, and collapse. Trump would no doubt get 20 per cent of the vote – the core vote – and the Democrats would win a landslide. A moderate constitutional Republican would probably stand against him in any case.
Trump would never win the nation in 2024, for the same reasons he lost in 2020. But if you think Trump won a landslide in 2020 then that’s not a problem for Trump.
When I saw the images from inside the Capitol I saw these thugs and yobs posing for selfies with the bronze statues of Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, and I wondered what they would have made of all this, and of Donald Trump. The party of Eisenhower and Reagan has been trashed and destroyed by Trump, his lies and his incitement to his deranged followers – including in Congress.
Even after the insurrection, even after they’d been forced to hide for fear of their lives, some 138 Republican members of the House of Representatives, a majority among that party, voted against certifying the vote in Pennsylvania and backed Trump’s rebellion. A half dozen Republican senators persisted in parroting Trump’s lies about the ejection. When will the madness end?
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