Well, it’s finally official. After months of speculation, Donald Trump has confirmed that he is running for president once again in 2024. This news isn’t a surprise, but it still feels disappointing for our democracy. Although Trump is getting off to a head start in the 2024 Republican primaries as the first major candidate to announce their campaign, his campaign is fundamentally flawed and he faces a long road ahead to get back to the White House.
Trump announced his 2024 bid on Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago with a meandering hour-long speech that was so directionless that even Fox News cut away from it. During his speech, he rambled on about how the Biden administration has “destroyed” the country and repeatedly made exaggerating and misleading claims about the minimal accomplishments of his disastrous administration. He referred to his campaign as “a quest to save our country” with a mission to “make America great and glorious again.”
But don’t be fooled about him claiming he’s running to save the country. Trump is running for president because he has an ego that’s more fragile than the windows of a Tesla Cybertruck, and that ego is still laser-focused on one thing: Losing the 2020 election. After two years, Trump still hasn’t accepted the reality that he lost the 2020 election fair and square. He has continued to not only cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 race, but has also challenged the integrity of other elections.
His ego also took a hit during this year’s midterms, as many of the candidates he backed — particularly those in secretary of state elections — lost on Election Day. As you would expect, he was not happy about this. So, in typical Trump fashion, he took to the “Truth Social” social media app to publicize his meltdown as he complained about his candidates losing, attacked ballot processing systems and began to disavow some of the candidates he supported. With his ranting, it’s clear that he’s an unstable ideologue only running because he can’t comprehend when he loses, not because he cares about the country. If he really does care about the country, then why did he try to destroy our democracy by inciting an insurrection? I have an easier time believing that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer than believing that Trump cares about the good of the country.
Now that he’s officially running, a big question emerges: Can he win the Republican nomination? A year ago, it seemed like a guarantee that he would cakewalk to the nomination, as he was still regarded as the leader of the party and a “kingmaker”; but now, after a disappointing midterm for Republicans where numerous Trump-backed candidates faltered, his status as the frontrunner for the nomination has been questioned. His 80% favorability rating among Republicans has been in decline over the past year, and his standing with the overall American public has been negative as well; one poll found that 61% of Americans opposed Trump running for president again. But what’s more damning against Trump is that Republicans are now shedding their cowardice and beginning to criticize and distance themselves from him, though they should have done this years ago. Even Rupert Murdoch, one of Trump’s biggest media allies, has turned against him.
All of this considered, Trump appears to be a weak, vulnerable candidate. The time seems right for the Republican Party to move on from Trump and nominate someone else. But does any Republican actually have the guts to take on Trump?
Nobody has received more speculation than Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Fresh off a landslide reelection bid, his star continues to rise among Republicans, many of whom see him as the future of the party. DeSantis has basically the same ideology, but doesn’t carry the baggage of Trump’s presidency and January 6th. The calls for him to run are growing louder, but they remain unanswered. DeSantis has yet to publicly criticize Trump and has not fought back at the jabs Trump has thrown his way, but the calls for DeSantis to run will persist. If he does decide to enter the race, then buckle up for one of the nastiest, most bitter and likely most expensive primary battles we’ll ever see. The primary is likely to leave the party fractured going into the general election no matter who the nominee is. If DeSantis wins the nomination, Trump would probably be too petty and ego-centered to support him.
It’s going to be interesting how the 2024 election plays out. Trump appears to be ahead right now, but his weak campaign lacks any ideological and moral value and could be taken down by a DeSantis challenge. But for now, it’s Make America Great Again… again.