25 January 2022

Trump may well not run in 2024

I pretend no great psychological insight or training, but I agree with Josh Marshall's recent comment that, given his "mob boss" persona and personality, Trump will likely not run in 2024 at all if there is any significant opposition to him in his party. Which, given recent comments by the likes of Ann Coulter and some potential electoral challengers, it seems quite possible there will be. Marshall notes that in a crime organization, you're either boss or dead; there are not peaceful transitions of power. This is more like the kind of politics seen in the Soviet Union in the 1920s, but the dynamic is similar. Moreover, I think it's pretty generally accepted that Trump is a pretty classic case of narcissistic delusional personality. He pretty clearly simply cannot reconcile himself with the unassailable fact that he lost the 2020 election, so he maintains, actually believes... and has managed to convince many of his followers despite the complete absence of actual evidence... that he was cheated and actually did win. Faced with any real electoral opposition in a party many of whose members have long realized that it's a dangerous game having an honest to god lunatic at the helm, he may rationalize an exit from contention rather than risk losing. His niece Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist by training, has said as much several times. 

All of this is a mixed bag in terms of the nation's prospects, it seems to me. Because Trumpism, with all its antagonism to principles of constitutional small-r republicanism, remains wildly popular among about 40% of the electorate, which we have seen is enough, if distributed the way it generally is, to win elections. So having a smarter, more stable, more genuinely likeable potential autocrat in place of Trump at the head of the Trumpist party might actually be more dangerous. I think there remains a lot of antagonism to Trump personally that could help defeat him in 2024 if he does run, but if someone like DeSantis or Hawley, or even Youngkin, replaces him, we could actually be worse off. 

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