As expected, despite advice to the contrary, former US President Donald Trump, a highly divisive and controversial figure, has announced that he will run for President again in 2024. With this announcement, Trump, a failed realtor-businessman-turned-reality TV show host-turned-politician, may have just given a massive boost to the flailing chances of the Democratic Party to retain the White House in 2024.
While politics is the art of the possible and the only thing certain about electoral democracy is the uncertainty associated with it, the odds are that in the event Trump somehow manages to get the Republican Party’s ticket for 2024 Presidential run, the chances of the democrats retaining the White House would be much more than if another Republican – the sharply polarising Republican Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, who, many say, has a better chance of becoming the Republican nominee than anybody else –gets the ticket.
President Joe Biden, whose political stock has started climbing again after his party’s surprisingly good showing in the Midterm elections and who seems very inclined – though he hasn’t said so in clear words so far, to contest again in 2024, must have already gone to the nearest church to thank god for the huge favour that Trump has done him by announcing his bid for the Presidency in 2024.
For, Trump didn’t just divide the US or create deep fissures between his pack of rowdy supporters and the average liberal Americans, he has even divided his own party. This divide is one reason for the below-average showing by the Republicans in the Midterms despite the sharp fall in Biden’s popularity and dismal approval ratings among voters.
Most of the candidates supported by Trump and who contested on his slogan of Make America Great Again (MAGA) lost in the Midterms. This shows most voters aren’t very comfortable with and don’t want to vote for the divisive agenda of Trump.
After all, when it comes to voting for the next US President, who would the average voters vote for: A gaffe-prone, twice-impeached former president (Trump), who would be 78 when elections are held, one who refused to concede in the 2020 election, is the subject of multiple criminal investigations and is known to lie through his teeth, or a candidate (Biden or anybody else) who is none of the above?
Trump will try to create history. Will be succeed?: If he manages to get his party’s ticket, Donald Trump would try to achieve – win the Presidency again after losing after just one term in office – something that hasn’t been done in over 130 years.
The last and only man who successfully mounted a Presidential campaign after losing the Presidency after just one term in the White House was Grover Cleveland, who first won in 1885, then lost in 1889 and then won his second term in 1993 – thus being the only only president in US history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.
But, chances of Trump doing what Cleveland managed seem slim. Unless the Biden Administration does something very stupid and shoots itself in the foot or if the Democrats decide to field somebody like their own version of Trump, Trump may come up short in 2024 – just like he did in 2020.
As New York Times’ Peter Baker points out, unlike Trump, Cleveland won the popular vote twice before mounting his comeback, as opposed to Trump who lost the popular vote on both occasions. More importantly, unlike Trump, “Cleveland was never impeached and (was) not under multiple state and federal criminal investigations when he ran to reclaim his office”.
Another interesting thing to note is that, hours after he announced his 2024 bid, Trump lost the support of one person he must have been counting on – his daughter Ivanka Trump. Ivanka, whose larger-than-life presence in Donald Trump’s White House, and the controversial role that her husband, Jared Kushner, played during the Trump Presidency, told the Fox News that she “does not plan” to continue being involved in politics.
More importantly, neither Ivanka nor her brother, Donald Trump Jr, or Trump’s current wife Melania Trump were on the podium alongside the former President when he told his supporters and the entire world about his intention to contest again in 2024.
Will Trump get the party ticket?
Before he gets his name on the ballot for 2024, Trump will have to win his party’s nomination, something that isn’t a given right now. During his Presidency and thereafter, Trump has managed to rile many of the influential Republicans, especially the old, established guard.
By repeatedly and publicly pouring scorn on the old guard – Trump always believed and still thinks that his larger-than-life persona is enough to help him win and that the Republican Party needs him much more than he needs the party, the former President burnt his bridges with most of the old guard.
While earlier the establishment among the Republicans didn’t openly take on Trump for fear of antagonising his strong support base, the results of the Mid-Terms must have made them realise that Trump is more of a liability for the party than a vote-catcher.
Once the Republican primaries for 2024 begin, Trump will find out just how effective the old guard in his party is when it comes to throttling a candidate’s ambitions.
Forget defeating Biden or anybody that the Democrats choose to field in 2024, Trump may find it difficult to even defeat the candidate supported by his own party’s old guard in the primaries.
More worryingly for the Republicans, even if Trump doesn’t get the ticket, he can be expected to work against the interests of whosoever the party chooses in his place. He has shown so many times in the past just how petty he can be.
But, one thing is certain: with Trump announcing his bid, the 2024 race for the White House has just become very interesting and promises to have all the ingredients of a hit soap opera.