By Hank Beckman, Opinion Contributor
Donald John Trump is running for president and he’s aiming to join Grover Cleveland as the only candidate to win two non-consecutive presidential terms.
In what was a hour and ten minute televised speech, he stuck to issues for the most part, offering the type of serious rhetoric expected of a person announcing for the highest office in the land.
In the last third of the speech, he veered off script, tossing in ad-libs and a few of the standard wisecracks we’ve come to expect from the most non-traditional candidate we’ve seen in the history of the Republic. Of course, some of that is to be expected; it’s part of Trump’s appeal.
In the wake of midterm elections that were a disappointment for conservatives and most Republicans, the obvious question is what effect Trump jumping in will have on the party, both in the 2024 election and the general direction of the GOP.
Many traditional Republicans, including former Speaker Paul Ryan, R, former Gov. Chris Christie, R, and Rep. Liz Cheney, R, are calling for the party to be rid of Trump’s influence. Ryan’s reasoning is that he is unelectable in 2024.
But the problem with passing over Trump for the 2024 nomination should be obvious; the loss of the Donald will almost certainly mean the loss of a substantial number of his voters; they are that loyal. And that would be an electoral disaster.
To concentrate only on the failure to win back the Senate and gaining only a slim majority in the House is to draw the wrong conclusions from the midterms.
For starters, the Republicans did win back control of the House. And with only a simple majority needed to end debate, there are few, if any, long-winded filibusters in the House. The party that has the most votes controls the agenda item in question. Period.
Republicans were expected to get a “red wave” that would produce a bigger majority, but noting that failure would be “lacking important context,” as the leftists fact-checkers are fond of saying.
According to the Cook Political Report, Republicans nationwide won 54.4 percent of the total House vote, opposed to 47.1 percent — a 4.3 percent gap that translates into about 4.4 million votes. Other analysts put the GOP’s edge even higher.
Hardly the disastrous performance some are making it out to be, and there were other factors besides Donald Trump’s influence that produced the lower-than-expected number of electoral wins.
One was the abortion issue, which affected the unmarried female vote more than expected. Some thought the issue had faded somewhat since the Summer furor over the Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Apparently some women have longer memories that we give them credit for.
Another is the fact that while Republicans made historic inroads with Black and Hispanic voters, many of those votes still came in predominantly blue districts, so they weren’t enough to flip a seat red.
While it’s true that some of the most high-profile candidates, those most associated with Trump’s brand, if you will, underperformed, he took pleasure in his speech pointing out that the vast majority of his endorsed candidates won.
So it would be an enormous mistake to think the midterm results are a sign that the Republican Party needs to abandon the issues that animate the base. But there are recent indications that at least some prominent Republicans plan to veer off in that squishy direction.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D, recently said he intends to sit down with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R, and work with him on marginalizing the MAGA wing of the party in an effort to forge bipartisan consensus and get things done.
Any suggestion by Schumer that he wants to determine the direction of the Republican Party should provoke howls of laughter in McConnell. It probably won’t, given McConnell’s disdain for the base, but it is still the height of arrogance for a man whose party just lost one chamber of Congress, and hangs on to the other chamber by a paper-thin margin, to presume he’s qualified to tell the opposition party in which direction it should head.
And one direction in which he obviously wants Republicans to head is towards amnesty for 11 million illegals already in the country. McConnell should waste no time in telling him exactly where he can lodge that particular agenda item.
This only confirms the Republican base’s suspicions that the Democratic Party, with help from the Chamber of Commerce and moderate Republicans, intends to replace American workers with people from other countries.
Always portrayed by leftists as a conspiracy theory, and stressing the “white” part of the replacement theory for race-baiting effect, the replacement theory is one of those hot-button issues, like Critical Race Theory in schools, that leftists claim really isn’t happening — only to do an about-face and celebrate when it becomes an official policy position of the Democratic Party or one of its allies.
As far is the Republican base is concerned, amnesty for 11 million, or however many illegals are actually in the country, is a non-starter.
Lindsey Graham’s recent declaration that without a secure border, any immigration deal is unthinkable should also be a warning sign for the base.
What made him think it a good idea to declare this as his litmus test for amnesty is a mystery. Maybe the same part of his brain that thought it shrewd to call for a nation-wide abortion ban before the midterms took over his critical thinking again.
What millions of Americans want, including people from all walks of life, is not another amnesty similar to the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986, which granted amnesty to three million people who broke our laws by entering the country illegally, only to be rewarded with citizenship.
Many Americans, especially Trump supporters and other Republicans, are troubled because they remember that after the Simpson-Mazzoli Act passed — under a Republican president — the Hispanic vote still went for Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988 by a 70-30 margin, according to figures from the Roper Center. That might have been several decades ago, but it’s not exactly a statistic that will inspire trust in Trump voters.
Don’t expect the hot-button issues motivating Trump voters to go unnoticed the next two years. Bill Melugin of Fox News will still be showing the nation the ongoing invasion of our Southern border; local news sites and the internet will still bring us clips of thugs in subways terrorizing people and untold other crimes being committed in broad daylight; we’ll still see the declining test scores in public schools; and we will still be hearing about local school boards that want to teach students to hate their white classmates and sexualize students as young as kindergarten.
And it will not escape notice that many of our elite supporting woke policies have no chance that their jobs will be in jeopardy to an immigrant willing to do it for less; we’ll know that people who support the George Soros-funded woke prosecutors letting dangerous criminals walk free, live in areas where crime doesn’t affect them.
And it’s common knowledge that public school teachers in substandard districts often send their own children to private schools.
This author is one of those people who worries that Trump’s style will turn off moderates of all parties, and said so in a previous column.
But the elite party leaders trash Donald Trump and his supporters — all 74 million of them — at their peril.
The Party might somehow be able to survive losing him, but losing his voters would be fatal.
By Hank Beckman, Opinion Contributor