This weekend, conservatives in my childhood home state of Colorado gave Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) an edge over former President Donald Trump in the Western Conservative Summit’s presidential straw poll. This led former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to clarify that DeSantis is not planning to run against Trump in the 2024 Republican primary. If Trump runs, DeSantis will not.
Yet the strong support for DeSantis suggests, in my view, that Trump should not run in 2024. Instead, Trump should support DeSantis or another stalwart conservative candidate, helping him or her to victory and helping to shape his or her agenda.
Why do I think this? Trump has an impressive record as president and he united the GOP in 2020. Whatever you think about the results of the 2020 presidential election — and I very much acknowledge the irregularities and the Democrats’ shenanigans — Trump received the largest vote total of any incumbent in history.
Yet Trump also energized the Democrats. The Progressive Caucus PAC released a report earlier this month, warning that Democratic turnout will likely drop without Trump in office. Even in increasingly deep-blue Virginia (which gave Biden a 10-point advantage over Trump in 2020), Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has a surprisingly strong position against a popular former Democratic governor, perhaps because Democrats don’t have Trump as an excuse anymore.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is running to Mao Zedong’s left, making first-term Obama look like a nervous moderate puppy. Biden has fought to resurrect the Obamacare transgender mandate (on Catholic hospitals), excluded the Hyde Amendment from his budget, formed a commission to study packing the Supreme Court, and launched a green overhaul of the federal government. Meanwhile, he’s launching a domestic “war on terror” that provides an excuse to target conservatives.
Meanwhile, Biden’s knee-jerk reversals of Trump’s successful policies on the border and Israel have created crisis and war, while the latest “COVID-19 relief” package and Biden’s other multi-trillion-dollar proposals appear to be unleashing a tidal wave of inflation. The 1970s are calling. They want their “malaise” back.
Biden’s Democrats enjoy razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate, yet they have taken this divided state of affairs as a mandate to ram their radical agenda down Americans’ throats. This should energize the Republican base, just as Democrats are resting on their laurels after having defeated the Bad Orange Man.
The last thing Republicans need is to energize Democrats unnecessarily. A 2024 Trump candidacy would rally Republicans, but DeSantis is starting to show that he also has the ability to rally the GOP — and he likely won’t drive Democrat turnout in the same way that Trump would.
With each passing day under Joe Biden, Trump’s policies look better and better. Yet the legacy media will take far too long to reconsider the Orange Man Bad narrative, and Trump is canny enough to pull a fast one on the Left. If he endorses DeSantis and helps DeSantis craft a continuation of the Trump legacy, the Democrats won’t know what hit them in November 2024.
Democrats played dirty in 2020, pulling the strings to boost Biden into the White House. In 2022 and 2024, Trump needs a crafty strategy of his own. For 2022, Trump has already returned to the successful “Contract with America” strategy that boosted Republicans to victory in the 1994 mid-terms. For 2024, I think Trump should tap DeSantis, in order to forward his legacy without risking a 2020-style engineered backlash.