Donald Trump: Five reasons why his third presidential run is doomed

In the opening scenes of Gladiator the legate of General Maximus says of the Germanic barbarians: “People must know when they are conquered.”

To this Maximus simply replies: “Would you Quintus? Would I?”

Two millennia later, another Germanic rebel has declared war on the modern Rome that is Washington DC. Like his ancestors, he does not know that his war is already lost.

There’s something almost reassuring about Donald Trump’s nuclear-proof confidence. In a world that’s so crazy and unpredictable right now – largely because he made it that way – it’s one of the few things that hasn’t changed.

But his resistance to reality is as futile as that of his ancestors. Even if he wins the Republican nomination for president, there’s no chance he can win the big race. Here are five reasons why.

One: Trump’s greatest weapon is greatness. He is a war machine based on shock and awe, but having already run two presidential campaigns and injected the phenomenon of Trumpism into American politics, he is a victim of his own success.

In short, Trump is no longer shocking or awesome. His campaign launch was larger than life, but that’s what we’re used to. He made the same claims he’s made for the past two years, many of which are true, many others ridiculous, all of them trusted. Trump’s main appeal was the shock of the new. Now he and it are old.

This fuels the second problem he faces, which is the element of surprise. In 2016, everyone underestimated Trump, especially his Democratic opponents. They were dismissive and complacent and they paid the price.

In 2020, the party machine and all its various allied anti-Trump forces made no such mistake. They threw everything at him and won, even with a sleeping semi-Hermitian candidate.

In the midterms last week, they did that again. The Democrats were ready. If Trumpist Republicans couldn’t create a landslide against Joe Biden and the equally confused John Fetterman, there’s no way they can generate enough oomph in two years.

This brings us to the third factor, which is momentum. In politics – especially in American politics – momentum is everything. Thanks to the mediocre interim result, Trump has none. If the acclaimed Red Wave had come true, Trump could surf it to victory, but now he’s just paddling in circles on the still lake of his staunchest supporters.

The fourth problem is Trump himself. The truth is that there were two candidates in the presidential race in 2020 and neither of them was Biden. It was Trump against everyone but Trump. While Trump has a huge personal following that any populist politician would envy, he was not as big as the massive coalition of voters opposed to him.

In other words, it wasn’t a contest between who loved Trump versus who loved Biden — which Trump would have easily won — but a contest between who loved Trump and who didn’t love Trump, one he can’t win.

And this brings us to the final barrier, which is perhaps as close to poetic justice as politics can provide.

Even for many diehard supporters, Trump completely destroyed his reputation and credibility when he denied the 2020 election results, made all sorts of crazy claims about voter fraud and stolen ballots, and implicitly encouraged rioting at the Capitol.

He could have pointed to the fact that he had the second-highest vote count for a presidential candidate in history on sheer force of personality, while Biden relied on everyone from moderate Republicans to radical socialists. But like the Germans in it GladiatorTrump couldn’t accept defeat as a reality.

The result of this was that he had to declare the electoral system corrupt, which is a pretty big problem if you need your constituency to participate in the electoral system.

Again, we saw this in the midterms where Democrats destroyed Republicans in mail-in ballots because Trump told Republicans they couldn’t be trusted.

And so Trump’s message to his supporters and would-be supporters is essentially: The voting system is unreliable and rigged against you, but I want you to participate anyway so you can vote for me.

That’s like saying to a football team, look, you’re going to lose because the referee is paid, but I want you to go out and have your heart out.

I’m not a Trump hater — in fact, I thank him for justly denouncing the failure of the New Left to talk to the working class — but I’m a democracy enthusiast. And by undermining democracy, Trump has fatally undermined himself.

It is too much to hope that Trump has learned his lesson from this. The only question is whether the left has learned theirs.

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