Without Trump It’s Business As Usual

Since President Trump boarded Air Force One for the final time in January 2021, establishment Republicans have been clamoring for an alternative to be their 2024 nominee. 

Despite his outsized influence over the party, these recovering NeverTrumpers (and patronizing “Neo-NeverTrumpers”) claim to want a reasonable alternative: a candidate who carries the mantle of “Trumpism” without all the baggage. This, according to their worldview, is in an effort to better appeal to those independents or voters who would otherwise perceive the former president as too divisive, but still appealing to voters who appreciate the Trump Administration’s “many successes.” 

They play to the MAGA base’s potential misgivings about Trump’s first term, criticizing in hindsight the way his administration handled COVID, or some of his unwise endorsements, or the personnel problem that plagued his White House from the start. 

But this chorus of critics frequently fails to account for the never-ending, groundless attacks, both internal and external, the Trump White House was forced to sustain from the moment he was elected—to say nothing of the systemic disadvantages afforded to an administration intent on bucking the establishment. 

Whatever his imperfections, Trump is by far the best—and only—man for the job. Only in Trump do the American people find a true outsider candidate rather than a lifelong member of the political class. His mere presence would once again disrupt the status quo and his record of historic accomplishments speaks for itself. If that’s not enough, consider: The current administration is adamant Trump will not be elected again in 2024. The same cannot be said of any other potential 2024 GOP primary candidate. 

A safe candidate, particularly one who has the blessings of National Review and the “Young Gun” (now in his 50s) Paul Ryan, will become part and parcel of the so-called Movement Conservatism that not only failed to conserve basic principles in America, but has been complicit in the Left’s ruinous march through our institutions. Giving in to people whose job is to perpetuate the movement by complaining, criticizing, and commenting from the sidelines will always leave the forgotten 75 million out to dry. With the preservation of the American way of life, ostensibly the Republican Party’s raison d’etre, all but eroded, what is meaningfully left for the GOP to offer? 

In reality, Trump demolished the Blue Wall in 2016 by challenging the Republican Party apparatus directly. He didn’t stake his campaign on cutting taxes or the run-of-the-mill small government playbook. Trump’s greatest virtue, the thing that makes him so beloved beyond his policies is his method. In many ways, it was the disruption itself that sent shockwaves throughout the system, signaling to disaffected voters that this billionaire from New York might actually deliver something other than business-as-usual in Washington, D.C. 

Trump called the moment for what it was

This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged . . . Our great civilization has come upon a moment of reckoning.

In the face of shuttered factories, a post-frontier nation, and amidst the ruins of a once-great civilization, he reminded America of its capacity for greatness, raising the standard for our otherwise listless, nihilistic society drowning in mediocrity. 

This resonated with the forgotten Americans who intimately experienced the harmful effects of an elite class grossly disinterested in governing on their behalf. They witnessed firsthand the influx of fentanyl into their communities as a byproduct of the open southern border. Their jobs were shipped overseas, and their children were also sent overseas to fight and die in the needless foreign wars sustaining solely for the purpose of making our ruling class richer. 

We are approaching eight years since Trump descended the golden escalator of Trump Tower; in many ways the decline has accelerated. The Republican establishment, however, does not seem to have learned much in the intervening years, and still has very little to offer. This was most clearly on display during the midterm elections when, despite the smug predictions of an inevitable “red wave,” some were keen on the idea that some hollow “Commitment to America” would motivate voters to overwhelm the polls. 

To the surprise of no one who has not been in the establishment or a coma, it failed. Perhaps for good reason, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blithely informed us following the GOP’s embarrassing midterm performance that providing military aid for the Ukraine should be our top priority, and a dozen more of our Grand Old Party elected officials voted in favor of codifying the redefinition of marriage

Our elites ruthlessly trample upon the very foundations of America; they seek to destroy the good, deny beauty, and ultimately lead souls on the path to destruction. This unsustainable ideology has produced nothing but depression, confusion, and harm. 

Yet, in a civilization at its breaking point, where one is reprimanded for espousing basic truths, this major party has nothing positive to offer. Have they been so deflated by the lies from our enemies’ tongues, that the absolute best we can look forward to is forbidding scandalizing sexual education policies until third grade? Once the child hits the age of 9, all bets are off? 

A soft-spoken, low-energy politician with a “serious strategy,” simply clinging onto the toothless abstractions of freedom and individualism is insufficient. The summation of the Right’s worldview—should it provide a muscular alternative to the current course of decline—cannot simply be: but we’re not them! 

As Peter Thiel reminded us at the 2022 National Conservatism conference, even Florida in 2022 fails to provide the foundation for a long-term alternative model to the one offered by California. 

America needs a proven leader, and a visionary to capture the intangible—someone who will not merely motivate the masses to get to the polls but who can craft a meaningful vision in which Americans can place their hope. It needs a vision for American excellence: a sovereign nation under God that embraces Truth, not rejects it. 

Though the 2024 election is still nearly two years away, the man at Mar-a-Lago still possesses the requisite spirit, grit, and instinct to take on the colossal task of recapturing the White House, come what may.

About Olivia Ingrassia

Olivia Ingrassia is a 2021 Claremont Publius Fellow and a current law student in New York City.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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