Trumpism without Trump: Republicans seek to be competitive in 2022

The coming year will be crucial in the United States for the holding of the midterm elections, something that the Republicans face in a way that until recently conceivable: winning without Donald Trump.

Five years after completely submitting to the will of the flammable leader and a year before the midterm elections, the Republican Party imagines life after Trump.

“At this stage, he would be the frontrunner if he chose to run in the 2024 presidential race,” said Matt Lacombe, assistant professor of political science at Barnard College in New York.

“But it is also very possible that the coordination between potential candidates and party officials … is sufficient to prevent him from pursuing or succeeding” a new nomination, he clarified.

After Trump secured the nomination as a Republican presidential candidate in May 2016, the party abandoned its political platform at its next two conventions, choosing to simply declare allegiance to its new chieftain.

The consensus remains that all roads to Congress pass through the Mar-a-Lago Golf Club, Trump’s property and retirement home in Palm Beach, Florida.

And that to succeed in Washington you had to kiss the ring in Palm Beach, flattering Trump and his loyal base of tens of millions of fervent devotees.

Republicans who do not follow that line know that, at best, they risk being vilified in public and being the target of threats against their families by exalted Trump supporters.

“Despite losing his megaphone on social media, his support still energizes grassroots supporters, drives donations, and in some cases weeds out competitors and forces withdrawals,” Washington-based political consultant and lobbyist Tommy Goodwin told international media.

However, some prominent Republicans took advantage of the recent gubernatorial elections in some states to call for a course correction, although without moving away from Trump and his “big lie” that the Democrats stole the 2020 elections with Joe’s victory. Biden.

The US Government is still investigating the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. AP

Rulers seek to avoid his figure

Republican billionaire Glenn Youngkin, who won the Virginia gubernatorial election, beating Trump’s electoral crop in the suburbs of that state in the 2020 race, especially among independents and women.

Trump immediately took credit for himself, but in reality Youngkin played down the mogul’s influence and in the weeks leading up to the election did his best to keep him at bay.

In New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciattarelli started out strongly in favor of Trump, even speaking at a “Stop the Steal” rally in 2020, but distanced himself from the former president during the gubernatorial campaign, which he nonetheless lost by narrow margin to Democrat Phil Murphy, who was reelected.

Democrats found it difficult to sustain the gains made in the suburbs of those states, which helped them regain the House of Representatives in 2018 and the White House in 2020.

The suburbs are likely to once again be a key battleground in the 2022 elections, in which control of the House of Representatives, Senate and 36 governorates is at stake. Yet Trump is far less popular there than he is on the field.

The bottom line for many Republicans is that the key is to borrow a lot from the strategy of Trump, but openly avoiding her figure.

The former president’s approval sank to an all-time low of 34% after the Jan. 6 riot, when thousands of his supporters stormed the Capitol to prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory in the election.

Since then, Trump has issued a series of statements praising the insurgents and defending the threats against the life of his vice president Mike Pence, who presided over that session of Congress.

The head of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, urged the 75-year-old former president to stay out of the midterm elections and told reporters: “I think we have to talk about the future and not about the past.”

However, Rick Scott, chairman of the Republican Senate campaign committee for 2022, told NBC that any Republican would be “foolish” to reject Trump’s endorsement, highlighting the dilemma they face.

“Donald Trump is where he wants to be: in the limelight, like a crying child in the candy aisle of a crowded store, demanding more soda, while throwing bags of chocolates at other children,” says Peter Loge, associate professor. at George Washington University.

Trump is still in the public life of the United States. AFP / M. Ngan

The past never dies

Trump’s rostrum is not what it was before his social media ban, which effectively curbed his daily influence.

Furthermore, his electoral recipe proved not to be as effective as he claimed.

Trump is the first president since Herbert Hoover nearly a century ago to lose the House, Senate and White House in a single term.

“So far, Trump-backed candidates have not fared particularly well,” said Sam Nelson, associate professor and chair of the political science department at the University of Toledo.

“While Republican primary candidates actively seek your valuable endorsement in (partisan) elections, that very sustenance can be dangerous in general elections, as it motivates Democrats to vote against the candidate Trump supports.” , Nelson considered.

Peter Loge believes that challengers may emerge who think they have nothing to lose, along with others concerned about the future of the Republican Party and the country.

“The 2022 midterm elections will also go a long way in determining what the true level of support for Trump by 2024 “, he pointed.

“If the candidates backed by Trump win the primary and general elections, Trump’s shares will go up and if they lose them they will go down,” he explained.

But Trump is a hero to the millions of disgruntled new voters he brought to the Republican cause in 2016.

Former Senate and House Chief of Staff Mark Bayer recalled a famous line from William Faulkner: “The past never dies. It is not even past ”.

The same can be said of Trump’s influence … on Republicans. His control is as strong as when he was president ”.

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