Donald Trump 2024 Presidential Run: Unworthy of Republican Nomination | National Review

To paraphrase Voltaire after he attended an orgy, once was an experiment, twice would be perverse.

A bruised Donald Trump announced a new presidential bid on Tuesday night, an invitation to double down on the outrages and failures of the last several years that Republicans should reject without hesitation or doubt.

To his credit, Trump killed off the Clinton dynasty in 2016, nominated and got confirmed three constitutionalist justices, reformed taxes, pushed deregulation, got control of the border, significantly degraded ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and cinched normalization deals between Israel and the Gulf states, among other things. These are achievements that even his conservative doubters and critics — including NR — can acknowledge and applaud.

That said, the Trump administration was chaotic even on its best days because of his erratic nature and lack of seriousness. He often acted as if he were a commentator on his own presidency, and issued orders on Twitter and in other off-the-cuff statements that were ignored. He repeatedly had to be talked out of disastrous ideas by his advisers and Republican elected officials. He turned on cabinet officials and aides on a dime. Trump had a limited understanding of our constitutional system, and at the end of the day, little respect for it. His inability to approximate the conduct that the public expects of a president undermined him from beginning to end.

The latter factor played an outsized role in his narrow defeat to a feeble Joe Biden in 2020 in what was a winnable race. Of course, unable to cope with the humiliation of the loss, he pursued a shameful attempt to overturn the result of the election. He didn’t come close to succeeding, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The episode ended with Trump, in a grotesque abuse of his powers, trying to bully Vice President Pence into unilaterally delaying or changing the count of electoral votes on January 6 and with an inflamed pro-Trump mob storming the Capitol while the president gave no indication that he particularly minded.

In the midst of this, he threw away two Georgia Senate seats in a fit of pique over Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refusing to bend to his will. The resulting loss of Senate control allowed Biden to get trillions of dollars in spending that he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise and confirm large numbers of progressive judges.

Since then, Trump has maintained his grip on the party and done all he can to force it to accept his delusions and lies about the 2020 election — boosting conspiracy theorists and fanatics and targeting for defeat, with considerable success, anyone pushing back too hard against him or his obsessions.

Trump’s success in imposing his fixations and candidate choices on the GOP played a large role in the GOP debacle in the midterms. This political backdrop raises the possibility that his low-energy announcement speech may be a damp squib.

Certainly, GOP voters should give up on the idea that Trump is a winner. After securing the GOP nomination with plurality support in 2016, Trump didn’t exceed 47 percent in either of his campaigns, winning in 2016 with 46.1 percent and losing in 2020 with 46.8. This is, to say the least, a very narrow electoral path, and one must assume that with all that’s transpired since 2020, Trump is weaker than in his first two races.

The party’s position has significantly eroded under his hegemony. When Trump announced his first campaign in 2015, Republicans were coming off a historic wave election, which brought them to 54 Senate seats, and 247 House seats. Republicans then lost the House in 2018, lost the Senate in 2020, and blew a chance for large gains this year. Now, they are looking at 49 or 50 Senate seats, and a razor-thin margin of control of the House of Representatives. On top of this, Republicans had 31 governorships; they now have 25, and have lost crucial ground in state legislatures, too.

A lesson of the midterms was that association with Trump and “stop the steal” were liabilities, and no one is more associated with both of those things than Donald Trump himself. Democrats helped choose MAGA candidates that were eminently defeatable in GOP primaries this year, and nominating Trump — whom Democrats are pining to run against again — in 2024 would replicate this experience on a much larger scale.

Needless to say, Trump is a magnetic political figure who has managed to bond countless millions of Republicans to him. Many GOP voters appreciate his combativeness and hate his enemies, who so often engaged in excesses in pursuit of him. Once he won the nomination in 2016, they understandably voted for him in 2016 and 2020, given the alternatives. But the primaries won’t present a choice between Trump and progressives with calamitous priorities for the nation, but other Republicans who aren’t, in contrast to him, monumentally selfish or morally and electorally compromised. (And it should be added, won’t be 78 years old if elected and ineligible to serve two terms.)

It’s too early to know what the rest of the field will look like, except it will offer much better alternatives than Trump.

The answer to Trump’s invitation to remain personally and politically beholden to him and his cracked obsessions for at least another two years, with all the chaos that entails and the very real possibility of another highly consequential defeat, should be a firm, unmistakable, No.