Can Trump Win In 2024? Probably Not, But He Will Certainly Cheat Again
Theoretically speaking, the United States will be having a presidential election in 2024. Everybody acts as if it’s a sure thing. Political “horse race” coverage dominates the news. Debates, rallies and candidate speeches take place. Newspapers and TV news outlets publish polling results every few days. Every-body’s familiar with the ritual, and everybody plays along.
That’s the whole point of rituals. All the solemn mummery of holding a presidential election, right down to the balloons and silly hats, exists to reassure the public that everything will be alright. That’s why phony democratic elections are the essence of dictatorial regimes around the world.
Everybody plays the game. Russia, China, Myanmar, you name it. Record voter turnout is assured. Vladimir Putin will no doubt win a thunderous majority.
But real democracies can be fragile things.
Let’s try an analogy from the sports page. Consider the recent national collegiate football championship. What would we say about it if one team, say the Michigan Wolverines, showed up with assault rifles and vowed to shoot referees who threw penalty flags adverse to them?
Well, we wouldn’t call it a football game.
So how can we call it a proper election when everybody knows that the presumptive nominee of the Republican party, one Donald J. Trump, will refuse to accept defeat? Adam Serwer puts it this way in The Atlantic: “there is something naive to assuming that Trump would accept such a verdict from the electorate a second time when he didn’t accept it the first time. Neither a close election nor a sound defeat matters when Trump can induce his supporters to believe any fiction he conjures.”
And there appears to be little doubt that he can. The GOP front runner’s campaign appearances in Iowa have been almost phantasmagoric of late. He has gone so far as to post a TV commercial on his Truth Social website claiming that he is God’s Chosen One.
Narrated in the electronically-recreated voice of the late radio pitchman Paul Harvey, the ad begins like this: “And on June 14, 1946, God looked down on his planned paradise, and said, 'I need a caretaker.' So God gave us Trump."
Got that? Trump’s birth was divinely inspired.
Try to imagine the hullabaloo if President Joe Biden even hinted at such a thing. They’d say the old fool had clearly lost it. “Dementia” would be the kindest diagnosis.
Instead, what Biden did say in a speech near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, was that Trump is an unpatriotic sore loser, and nothing more.
“Trump lost 60 court cases, 60. Trump lost the Republican-controlled states. Trump lost before a Trump-appointed judge—and then judges. And Trump lost before the United States Supreme Court…
“Trump lost recount after recount in state after state. But in desperation and weakness, Trump and his MAGA followers went after election officials.”
Biden described Trump’s actions and inaction during the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol as “among the worst derelictions of duty by a President in American history: an attempt to overturn a free and fair election by force and violence.”
And Trump’s response? He went all sixth-grade bully on the President before an audience of Iowa supporters.
“Did you see him? He was stuttering through the whole thing,” Trump told a crowd in Sioux Center, Iowa. “He’s saying I’m a threat to democracy.”
“’He’s a threat to d-d-democracy,’” he continued, pretending to stutter. “Couldn’t read the word.”
Many in the audience, who, of course, hadn’t seen Biden’s speech, chortled.
“The remark was not true,” the Washington Post reported. “Biden said the word “democracy” 29 times in his speech, never stuttering over it.”
As if that wasn’t low-down and infantile enough, Trump dragged the late Sen. John McCain into it, mimicking McCain’s inability to raise his arm over his head due to injuries sustained under torture in a North Vietnamese prison camp.
Trump was never fit to shine McCain’s shoes. Not that he’d know how. The great tribune of the common man hires butlers for that.
Outraged MAGA supporters should do themselves the favor of watching the video of these incidents before sending me threatening e-mails. Otherwise, knock yourselves out.
Alternatively, check out the video of Trump telling a credulous Lou Dobbs the other day that thanks to Joe Biden, gasoline now sells for “5, 6, 7 and even $8 a gallon.” I don’t know about you, but I filled up yesterday for $2.37.
Another few months of Trump’s screeching and whining and all but the dullest MAGA cultists are apt to catch on. So no, I think there’s little chance of Trump winning a national election.
But that’s not the point, which is that there’s no possibility of this profoundly disordered man conceding defeat, and every chance that the authoritarians mobilizing behind his candidacy—the Steve Bannons and Stephen Millers—will be far better prepared the second time around.
Gene Lyons is a former columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a winner of the National Magazine Award, and co-author of The Hunting of the President.
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