Former President Donald Trump may indeed be late in his own (political) party and, if he decides to attend, it will rain on the parade of Republicans.
As Trump neared the Republican nomination four years ago, I wrote this in my May 12, 2016 column on knoxnews.com: âTrump is not a Republican. He is not a Democrat. It’s a trumplican. Or a Trumprecrate. His party is himself. In fact, what Republican voters have done, in their irritation with the government in general, is put in place an alleged candidate who is, in effect, a third party candidate. “
In his closing remarks as president on January 20, among his comments on his administration’s accomplishments and expressing his gratitude to various people, Trump added: “We will come back one way or another.”
A third party means? If so, the Republicans will manage to save the Democrats from themselves.
Republicans, who won 13 House of Representatives seats in the 2020 election when they were due to lose as many as 15, were able to retake the House of Representatives in 2022, political site FiveThirtyEight.com said. Arguments have arisen among Democrats over actions of the far left leading to Democratic defeats. The far-left banking maneuver adopted by President Joe Biden’s campaign potentially led to the same electoral debacles that occurred to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in their first and second presidential midterms.
“We’ll be back somehow” doesn’t bode well for the GOP. Trump has two groups of potential adversaries to choose from. One is Biden and the Democrats who have twice impeached Trump. The other is Republicans who would not support his desire for Congress to overturn the election results, and Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who ultimately walked away from Trump, blaming him on the less in part for the riot that occurred in January. 6 in the United States Capitol.
Sometimes it’s easier to choose as enemies that are closest to you. The three factors of this political game are, alliteratively, the purity, the pride and the power of the political party.
Several years ago, at the height of the Tea Party movement, a caller for “State Your Case,” the Sunday afternoon talk show I host on WOKI-FM, Newstalk 98.7, wanted to share that if the name of Satan was on the ballot with the then – US Senator Lamar Alexander, “I would vote for Satan.”
Alexander is a Republican and a two-time former governor of Tennessee. Why, I asked the appellant, would he vote for the Biblical embodiment of evil instead of a Republican senator? The appellant said it was because he supported the Constitution of the United States. My next question: who in America did he think was the greatest danger to the Constitution?
âThe Democrats,â he said. But Alexander was first on his list because the senator did not respond to appellant’s idea of ââa “true Tory,” however he defined the term. If Democrats were the biggest threat to the Constitution, I asked him how many Tea Party candidates across the country were running against Democrats? He couldn’t name one. They were targeting Republicans.
I suggested that the practical effect of his position was that Democrats were around laughing while he and his âconstitutionalistâ colleagues did the Democrats’ job for them.
What mattered to him – and what seems important to a large number of Trump supporters – is to punish party disbelievers for perceived lack of ideological purity.
The leaderless Tea Party has finally fizzled out with a string of electoral losses; however, Trump is a visible and vocal leader. Any third-party movement he leads will attract supporters, perhaps millions. If he turns them against Republicans, it will kill Republicans’ chances of winning back Congress and the White House. Ultimately, such a Trump move will also fail, but it will do great damage to Republicans in advance.
Trump and the Republican Party generally took advantage of each other while he was in the White House. Now he’s out, and no doubt many in the party want him to go, or at least adopt the typical policies of ex-presidents and not publicly comment on political affairs.
During the 2020 campaign, President Barack Obama began to dismantle the wall separating presidents from public judgments from their successors. If history is any guide, Trump will tear down that wall. His pride will not let him do otherwise.
Ultimately, it’s about who has it, who doesn’t, who wants to keep it, and who wants to get it back. This actually raises another subject: principles. In politics, principles are generally overlooked. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is an example of amazing evaporation principles. She condemned Trump and some Republicans for not accepting the results of the 2020 presidential election. However, she claimed the 2016 election was “hijacked.” Some other Democratic leaders, including Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, have called Trump an “illegitimate president.”
Party purity, pride and power. Which, if any, will Trump choose? And if the 45th President wants to throw a Trumplican or Trumprecrat party, it won’t be a party for everyone.
George Korda is a political analyst for WATE-TV, hosts “State Your Case” from noon to 2 p.m. Sundays on WOKI-FM Newstalk 98.7, and is President of Korda Communications, a public relations and communications consultancy.