Thinking hard about Donald Trump.
If you followed the news this week you know three things. First, you know that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted former president Donald Trump on 34 felony counts. Second, you know that the indictment is so lacking in substance as to be laughable were it not for its grave implications for the future of the republic. And third, you know that Donald Trump has enjoyed a big boost in the polls and a big boost in campaign cash.
You know these things, so I’ll spare you a rehash except to repeat that in two and a half centuries of our history no former U.S. president has been indicted. Gerald Ford knowingly knee-capped his chances for re-election by pardoning his predecessor so that the country might be spared the agony of prosecuting Richard Nixon. In that vein, though she was never president, Donald Trump quickly quashed the idea of prosecuting Hillary Clinton following the 2016 election, even though she very clearly committed multiple felonies.
We in America have for the most part wisely avoided prosecuting the political opposition – even in the presence of prosecutable crimes – for fear of becoming like the autocratic dictatorships and third world hellholes in which politically-driven prosecutions are par for the course.
All to say that if we’re going to break with tradition and indict Donald Trump, the indictment must clearly and undeniably lay out in an understandable way a serious crime worthy of serious punishment. Bragg’s indictment doesn’t come close.
This indictment is purely political. And the politics at the moment actually appear to be helping Trump. It can be argued that Alvin Bragg’s idiotic indictment all but assures Trump’s nomination in 2024.
But does the GOP really want Trump as the nominee?
The fact is that it’s not now nor should it ever be about whether Trump wins. The only thing that matters is that the country wins. That won’t happen if Biden – or some other far-left Democrat (the only kind that can win the Democratic nomination) – wins the general election.
Trump deserves credit for the successes of his presidency – the booming economy, the full employment, the reversal of the long-running decline of the middle class, the energy independence and the respect the USA was enjoying on the world stage. Trump’s policies aided and abetted all those things.
But Trump faces some sobering math.
According to Gallup, the American electorate is divided into three cohorts. About 28 percent of voters are committed liberals. They vote for Democrats. They consume corporate mainstream media because corporate mainstream media gives them what they want. Actual facts bounce off them.
An almost identical proportion of voters – 27 percent according to Gallup – are committed conservatives. They vote for Republicans. They consume corporate mainstream media because it’s hard not to. But they also watch FOX News and listen to radio stations like mine.
That leaves 44 percent in the mushy middle. They like to call themselves “independents” or “moderates.” What media they consume is mostly the same media that Democrats consume. That means they might not be well informed on such things as Hunter Biden’s influence peddling or the FBI’s intentional interference in the 2016 campaign.
Moderates are not ideologically committed. They’re more likely to vote personality over policy. And though I disagree with that approach, it’s nevertheless true.
And it’s also true that these are the voters that decide presidential elections. If 51 percent of them vote for the Democrat, the Democrat wins.
There lies the problem for Donald Trump. The margin between victory and defeat is microscopically small. Every vote is precious. Say what you will about the integrity of the 2020 election, the difference between a Trump victory and a Biden victory boiled down to just 40,000 votes spread over six counties in four states.
A lot of mushy-middle voters just can’t stomach Trump. Unless Trump undergoes a personality transplant, there’s real risk that the drama that constantly follows him either pushes those critical marginal voters toward Democrats, or it causes them to stay home.
And that means the Democrat nominee – whomever that is – wins.
Which means the country loses.
So, given that understanding, how comfortable are you with Trump being the 2024 nominee?