Voter A: “I like [such and such]. He’s a boat rocker, a system disruptor, an upwards – and all sides -- puncher and when he says something, he means it. He doesn’t shy away from a fight.
He speaks like me ‘n my friends down at the local joint. If he gets in office, he’ll get results just because the other side fears him so much.”
Voter B: “I hear ya. I like [such and such] too, though I think I like [competitor 2] a little better. He’s fresh, and like [such and such] is also fearless. I think people will look at [competitor 2] and think about the future, not so much the recent past with [such and such]. He’s learned so much from [such and such] that I don’t think he’ll repeat the same mistakes. [Such and such] taught us how to win, but [competitor 2] is the one to do the job now, because [such and such] is so despised by the media and the opposition. We have to win the White House to do anything, so [competitor 2] looks like the better candidate.”
Voter A: “No one except [such and such] has ever stood up to the establishment. [Such and such] doesn’t care about making friends. He’s not a politician and he’s not a member of the swamp like everyone else who’s been corrupted by the system. [Such and such] does it his way. He’s his own counsel and he’ll approach issues as the leader of the American public. The fact that the left hates [such and such] makes him even more attractive as a candidate. If [such and such] doesn’t win the Republican nomination, I’m probably not going to vote because there’s no one else who could take his place.”
Voter B: “America can’t afford another four years of senile Joe Biden and cackling Kamala – or whoever else the Democrats nominate. Not even that RFK Jr. guy would bring the type of change we need. We simply can’t risk a [such and such] nomination with everything at stake. [Such and such] can’t expand the GOP tent. [Competitor 2] appeals to a lot more people and can possibly win over some Democrats who voted for Biden. If [competitor 2] isn’t on the ballot in the general election, I might just vote third party or not vote. I don’t want to go through four years of [such and such] and the controversy.”
If you’ve been paying attention, and if you’re reading this, chances are you have been, it’s not difficult to determine who [such and such] and [competitor 2] are. Neither side really delves heavily into the issues between them and how the respective candidates differ on the big themes conservatives care about these days, with the main distinctions between them dealing more with personality, record and estimations of future success than a low-down, drag-it-out fight over the nitty gritty of what they actually believe.
As might be expected in a showdown of this magnitude, supporters of both candidates have established battlelines and markers they won’t cross. Kind of like a World War I battleground with both camps surrounded by trenches, barbed wire and strategically placed armaments, the back-and-forth won’t be solved with one attack or a seasonal campaign. One might surmise that the divisions between the two will only deepen and widen.
Put it this way, I doubt we’ll see them shake hands anytime soon. The louder the noise becomes, the fewer people will listen. And that’s a dangerous place to be in. In a piece titled “Trump, DeSantis, and the Dangers of Blind Loyalty”, The inimitable David Catron wrote at The American Spectator:
“Ad hominem attacks for ‘disloyalty’ or goofy nicknames like ‘Ron Desanctimonious’ won’t cut it. Moreover, despite the Twitter glitches that dominated the corporate media coverage of DeSantis’ campaign launch, anyone who heard his answers to specific policy questions will have noticed that he doesn’t deal in vague generalities. He doesn’t say things like, ‘It’s going to be terrific.’ He has an excellent command of the issues and knows how to articulate what he believes and how to convert his beliefs into action...
“[T]here is a real possibility that some of Trump’s most loyal supporters will simply sit out the election if he isn’t the nominee. Therein lies the real danger of blind loyalty. Trump deserves loyalty. He was an excellent president, despite the perfidy of the deep state, the machinations of the Democrats, and the mendacity of the media.
“Yet, as DeSantis frequently says, ‘There is no substitute for victory.’ In 2024, we have a country to save. Any Republican who fails to vote simply because his candidate didn’t win the GOP presidential nomination is, for all intents and purposes, voting for Joe Biden and the corrupt regime he ‘leads.’ Does anyone reading this really want that on his conscience?”
Heck no, and the more I hear from proponents of [such and such] and [competitor 2], I just want to shout something akin to, “Why don’t you just tip the election to Biden?” If you’re all so set in your opinions about what either [such and such] or [competitor 2] represent, what are you planning to do if/when you lose? Can’t you reconcile with the notion that conservatives will pick the winner and then we’ll all leave the circular firing squad to sign up for the real main event, beating the Democrat nominee in 2024?
The differences between the candidates aren’t great no matter how much [such and such] says they are. [Competitor 2] mostly took the MAGA agenda, added some additional flavoring from the culture menu and set off employing a solid, piece-by-piece plan to wage winnable fights and increase his own profile along the way. As would be anticipated, [competitor 2] has gone from a “Hey, look at that!” curiosity to public enemy number one in the minds of the establishment media, which, as I pointed out last week, might even serve to help out [such and such] by redirecting the enemy’s heat from the main point of contention – the future of the republic.
I’ve heard folks compare this year’s GOP dynamic to 2016’s between Trump and Cruz, and I’ve even made the connection myself, but upon seeing it in action, the 2024 Republican primary scrum feels more like the Democrats’ 2008 race than it is to the nasty Republican duel eight years ago. That match, as you may recall, involved a classic tug-of-war between the “sure thing” candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the much younger smooth talking “hope and change” upstart from Hawaii via Illinois via (who knows), Barack Obama.
Hillary had a huge lead in the early polls and naturally, everyone concluded that she couldn’t – or wouldn’t – be beaten. HRC was the known quantity and deployed a two-pronged strategy: One, to adopt the (perceived) accomplishments of hubby Big Bubba Bill’s presidency while selling herself (literally?) as a new and enlightened liberal Democrat who wouldn’t work with the hated Republicans if her life depended on it and would also blast through the mythical “glass ceiling” with a force that would make Helen Reddy (of “I am woman, hear me roar!” fame) blush.
Obama instinctively understood the electorate hankered for something different after enduring two consecutive two-term presidencies. He likely additionally figured that hardly anyone had ever heard of him, which would work to his benefit in the primaries – because there wasn’t a soul who hadn’t formed a hard opinion on Madame Crooked Hillary. Clinton was the Democrat establishment. Obama was every bit as liberal but could appeal to the gullible to see him as a conciliator and national healer. And he was black. What more could a Democrat ask for?
In this example, Trump represents the known quantity and DeSantis the newcomer with a reputation for bringing voter coalitions together (like he did in Florida) and the possible answer to the immortal question, “Can he really get it done?” DeSantis backers insist Trump isn’t electable after the 2020 fiasco (January 6 definitely included) and is so personally off-putting that independent voters will run and hide and plug their noses for senile Joe (or some other Democrat idiot) rather than face the prospect of another term of tweets, insults and petty fights.
Meanwhile, Trump stumpers seem to have adopted Trump’s claim that the Florida governor is more akin to the old GOP establishment than he is to the new breed of fire-breathing MAGA foot soldiers, the kind who would trudge through the DC swamp barefoot with a Bowie knife in their teeth awaiting an opportunity to add another reptile skin to their wall of political conquests.
Trump and DeSantis will engage in a non-stop back-and-forth about the future of the movement and the Republican party. Trump, perhaps unfairly, will continue to label the Floridian “DeSanctimonious” and DeSantis, perhaps unfairly, will maintain his assertions that Trump mishandled the COVID “emergency” by blindly acceding to the recommendations of Dr. “Fuzzball” Fauci and the government controlling crowd.
Like with most political spats, there’s no objective way to determine who’s right. Trump will play the loyalty angle up huge, which is a big deal to many, many conservatives and Republicans. DeSantis will campaign like he embodies the MAGA mission but without the unending controversies and drama.
Here’s thinking that eventually the voters will assess both sides and make a somewhat objective choice on the known quantity versus the lesser known and bigger upside. It’s a long campaign season and the establishment media narrative will sway back and forth with every shift in momentum. Catron is right: “Blind loyalty” is dangerous. These days, our only cause is victory.
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2024 presidential election