“His winnowing fan is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” – Luke 3:17
The Republican Party may have its nominee for 2024.
On the last day of June, Donald J. Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he had made a decision about whether he will again run for president. As he quickly followed up the interview with a campaign rally, predicting his path requires no extraordinary prescience.
Even supposing another Republican candidate could mount a respectable challenge, few would try. The odds of a Republican winning the general election after angering Trump’s supporters are poor, and even popular Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has been talked up by conservative media as a likely 2024 contender, will reportedly not enter the race if Trump does.
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All of this leaves Trump free to concentrate on what may be his most important task over the next three years – separating, as best as any mortal man can, the Republican Party’s saints from its sinners, and restoring to it the support of voters tired of its fecklessness.
His sway within the party is such that, in May, Congresswoman Liz Cheney – the daughter of a former vice president and the then third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives – was ousted from her leadership role after voting to impeach Trump. Her ouster was effected despite vocal support for her from former President George W. Bush, and the message was clear; if Trump wanted someone in the GOP gone, they would be gone.
Since then, Trump has been openly targeting other Republicans who oppose him, as well as more liberal members of the party, such as Senator Lisa Murkowski, for primary challenges and removal. He openly boasts at rallies of the power his endorsements hold with his base, and frequently notes the damage that RINO leaders (Republicans In Name Only) do to the conservative cause.
He should know. They did much the same damage to him.
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His administration was a reflection of the party’s internal war, and less effective for that. By the end of his tenure, he had feuded over politics with his vice president, his first attorney general, his second attorney general, his secretary of state, his first secretary of defense, and his second secretary of defense. The takeaway from these conflicts was almost never that Trump was wrong on policy (example: he wanted to use more force to bring BLM and ANTIFA rioters under control, but was counseled to restraint by weaker men in his administration) but that Trump had not, despite his 2016 campaign promise, hired “the best people.”
RINOs in Congress and Washington’s entrenched bureaucracy were always going to be problems for a political outsider who wanted to overturn the established order, cut off the importation of cheap service workers from Mexico by mega-corporations, and fight the outsourcing of American jobs. Yet believing with naïve optimism in the desire of people from across the political spectrum to make the country better, Trump spent the early days of his administration hiring establishment insiders and trying to negotiate deals with Democrats, all of whom wanted him to fail so that the lives of their rich donors and the DC elite could go back to normal. He even endorsed Mitt Romney’s Senate run in 2018.
He must never make those kinds of mistakes again.
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I wrote following the January protests and the impeachment betrayal by numerous Republicans that America would be better off if Christians, conservatives, and patriots formed a new party. I stand by that – I believe that there is so much rot within the Republican party structure that starting fresh would be a better option, trading temporary setbacks for long-term strength.
Shortly after I published my article, however, Trump publicly dismissed the idea of creating a new party. He said he believed instead in eliminating what he saw as a small contingent of malcontents and weaklings within Republican ranks and replacing them with genuine MAGA warriors. That is a tactic that can work, but only if Trump uses his influence to America’s best advantage and faces the task of cleaning house head-on.
It won’t be simple. Endorsing candidates with the right combination of strength and conservative ideology requires a deep dive into the history and personality of each. Worse still will be dealing with the grifters, who happily lie about their intentions to gain money and influence. Outside of elections, Trump will also need to play kingmaker in the complicated politics of the world’s most exclusive club – the United States Senate – which requires leadership changes before it can do what it takes to support a second act of the Trump administration, including securing the funds to finish and reinforce the border wall.
And before doing any of this or taking office again, Trump must decide which members of his own inner circle he can rely on. Together, they must then determine who can be trusted to serve in the cabinet and staff positions of a White House that will support a president as old (although mentally sharper) as the usurper Joe Biden is now.
I firmly believe that Trump can do all this, and have a magnificent second term, having learned from his first – but only if he starts hiring the best people now.