The U.S. political establishment appears to be sleepwalking toward the still almost unbelievable likelihood of Donald Trump’s return to the presidency.
RealClearPolitics’ (RCP) A.B. Stoddard, one of the most implacably anti-Trump journalists in Washington, wrote in RCP on Nov. 22 that the Democrats were likely to “blow up” and be badly defeated in the midterms and that they were underdogs in 2024, where their most likely opponent is Trump.
She didn’t connect the last two dots, but someone so antagonistic toward Trump can’t be contemplating the future she envisioned without a sense of revulsion, if not terror.
What seems to be happening is one of the great political ironies of living memory. Trump, the unlikeliest major-party presidential candidate in history, was practically the only notable person who saw the depths of the unhappiness of half of the United States in 2016.
Trump astounded almost everyone by being nominated and elected. He was the subject of an unprecedented sand-bag job from the national political media, the Washington governmental establishment, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the academy, and major league sports. He was also falsely accused of being a Kremlin agent by former intelligence directors, dragged through the muck of the Trump–Russia collusion nonsense for most of his term, and subjected to two spurious impeachments, one of which took place after he had left office.
His reelection was opposed by 95 percent of the media. He was deplatformed by the oligarchic social media cartel and outspent by 2-to-1. Ultimately, a great deal of creative (and constitutionally questionable, but never judicially judged) changes in voting and vote-counting in swing states, supposedly to accommodate for the COVID-19 pandemic, were deployed against him. And with more than 40 million harvested votes, he would still have won if only about 55,000 votes had he flipped in Pennsylvania and any two of Arizona, Georgia, or Wisconsin.
Despite the close and questionable election result, it was almost universally assumed by his more fervent detractors, such as Stoddard, that he was a dreadful aberration who had gone and wouldn’t be back. The astounding irony is that, after six years of this colossal political donnybrook, Trump is the likely early favorite for the next election and the winner of this great single warrior combat.
The context for the Trump phenomenon is that after the halcyon Reagan–Bush Sr. years of great prosperity and the victorious and bloodless end of the Cold War, official contentment was so general that for only the second time in history, (after Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, 1801–1825), there were three consecutive two-term presidents.
The White House and Congress changed hands at intervals, but the political class was the same and overwhelmingly liberal, drifting steadily to the left. In the 20 years from early Clinton to late Obama, official policy moved roughly halfway from the political center toward what was the far left in 1993, when Bill Clinton was inaugurated.
Only Donald Trump, the flamboyant land developer, golf club owner, and reality television star, who polled constantly, changed parties seven times in 13 years, and invented the technique of massively promoting his name as a celebrity brand and translating it into the world’s highest elective office, detected a seismic erosion of public support for what had effectively become a bipartisan national unity government of gradual leftward policy movement.
Only he saw that tens of millions of working- and lower-middle-class families considered that their jobs were being shipped overseas to cheap labor while the profits that accrued from that labor weren’t being repatriated to the United States.
Trump’s candidacy was treated with immense mirth by the complacent political establishment of both parties when it was announced in June 2015. As all will recall, the political establishment was struck dumb by his election. It was inconceivable that Trump could be legitimately elected, and so, the vast effort supported by almost all of the national political media was immediately launched to challenge the election result.
Trump weathered the relentless wall-to-wall assault on him by being a rather successful president: illegal immigration and unemployment were almost eliminated, oil imports ended, and, for the first time in any serious jurisdiction, the lower 20 percent of income-earners were gaining income in percentage terms more quickly than the top 10 percent.
Trump had identified the challenge posed by China and had begun the imposition of a general Western response to the communist nation. This departed from the confidence of previous U.S. administrations that if concessions and preferments were merely heaped upon China, it would voluntarily become a compliant member of the rules-based international community.
In fact, China was emboldened by that pre-Trump approach to ever more provoking behavior, culminating in facilitating the spread of COVID-19 from China to the world while unconscionably delaying appropriately serious warnings of the gravity of this illness. Democratic candidate Joe Biden assured his followers: “The Chinese aren’t our enemies. … They won’t eat our lunch.”
It was only COVID-19 and the alteration of the electoral system in several key states that enabled Trump’s removal from office. After adhering for approximately one week to a bipartisan policy of fighting the virus, Democrats seized their opportunity to terrify the country with visions of a black plague and with demands that Trump “follow the science” (which was far from unanimous) and lock down the country in order to ensure an economic depression that the Democrats could exploit.
The Democrats declined to criticize the extreme factions of Black Lives Matter and other entities that rioted across the country all summer in 2020, supposedly in response to the horrifying death of African American George Floyd while he was being detained by white Minneapolis police, recorded by cell phone cameras. The whole chaotic summer was represented as inevitable in Trump’s America.
The judiciary at all levels conveniently declined to hear any of the challenges to the integrity of the electoral system that had been changed in the swing states, but not by the state legislatures, as the Constitution requires.
Presumably, the judiciary didn’t wish to incur the immense controversy of potentially reversing the result of a presidential election. From this dubious and hair’s-breadth victory, the unrepentant, but severely frightened bipartisan political establishment torqued themselves up to blind faith that Trump wouldn’t be seen again and briefly resumed their former complacency.
The new administration has been unprecedentedly incompetent even to those of us who feared the worst—from millions of illegal migrants entering the country, skyrocketing crime, inflation, and deficits, to a very unresponsive president reduced to insipid pleadings to China and OPEC, a completely unfeasible vice president, a COVID-19 policy in shambles, and, in Afghanistan, the worst and most humiliating fiasco in the history of the U.S. armed forces since Gen. William Hull surrendered Detroit to the Canadians and British in 1812.
The response of the Democrats and their media allies to this incompetence is to construe every disagreement as racist, as in their disgraceful misrepresentation, from Biden down, of acquitted Wisconsin murder defendant Kyle Rittenhouse as a white supremacist vigilante.
In overreacting to Trump, a successful president, the Trump-haters have largely delivered the great Democratic Party to a riffraff of socialists, and they’re tied to a ludicrously inept regime that has little chance of avoiding Trump’s electoral revenge, whether it be his own return to the Oval Office or the election of a candidate he supports.
The long era of complacent bipartisanship that Trump assailed in 2016 now seems likely to perish in 2024. We’re in the midst of a unique interlude in U.S. history, as the Trump-haters await the consequences of their actions with mounting consternation.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.