1709479141 The Fall and Rise of Trump How the Former President

The Fall and Rise of Trump: How the Former President Regained Power Over the Republican Party | Elections in the USA

Pam Miller is a chain-smoking woman from Michigan who makes a living from the cult of Donald Trump. He follows him around the country in his white truck, which he has tuned by adding a cap with a 45 on the roof, the place the former president occupies on the list of White House tenants. A number comparable to 23 for basketball legend Michael Jordan's for his faithful; There is no need to add more. Miller sells T-shirts, visors and flags honoring the Republican politician wherever he holds one of his big rallies. “It's not a bad deal as long as you answer that question,” he commented as he stroked the van's dashboard at the doors of the show the candidate offered last weekend in Rock Hill, in the final leg of the Carolina primary . from the south. Since he founded his company during the 2020 election campaign, he says things have never been better than now.

Miller has witnessed the fall and rise of Donald Trump since he dishonorably left the White House, two weeks after thousands of his supporters launched the attack on the Capitol in the heat of his speeches on January 6, 2021. That earned him an award The second impeachment and criticism from prominent Republican Party leaders who then gradually began to eat their words emerged from the evidence that underestimating him was a bad idea since the real estate tycoon and Reality TV star took the stage in 2015 down the escalators of the skyscraper named after him in New York.

In 2021, Trump seemed headed for the dump of history, abandoned by his own people and transformed into a loud-mouthed politician with a dwindling following. Three years later, he is preparing to be named the Republican candidate for the White House, in a repeat of the 2020 duel in which he faced Joe Biden and in which some polls saw him as the winner in eight months against an opponent within hours show . Losses due to the doubts caused by his advanced age (81 years). Trump's coronation, 77, is expected to come on Super Tuesday, when primaries take place in 15 states, the results of which could exhaust excuses to continue the fight against his only consistent competitor, Nikki Haley, a more moderate Republican than the former president.

The week that is ending was also the week in which Trump regained complete control of the party apparatus and its soul. On Monday, Ronna McDaniel, president of the Republican National Committee, announced her resignation, a body that the candidate – who had been mowing the grass under McDaniel's feet for months – needs to be able to work at full speed in his campaign. In case there are doubts about these intentions, the tycoon plans, among other things, to appoint his daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair of the committee.

But the most symbolic blow came two days later, when Mitch McConnell, at age 82, announced that he would not run again in November as conservative leader of the Senate, a position he held for 17 years, longer than anyone else in history . The Kentucky politician, who arrived in Washington with Ronald Reagan at the White House, is the incarnation of the party's old guard and has been one of Trump's favorite targets since the attack on the Capitol: the definitive Rhino, acronym in English. Republican in Just a Name, a designation that the tycoon did not invent but that he was able to effectively appropriate as part of his profitable confrontational rhetoric.

Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump at a rally in Lexington, Kentucky on November 4, 2019. Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump at a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, on November 4, 2019. Yuri Gripas (Portal)

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McConnell is also a reference for the conservatism that has recently been referred to in the United States as “your grandparents' Republican Party”, in order to preserve the legacy of Reagan and the Bushes with their optimism and belief in institutions, markets, etc contrast in the role of the first power as world police, that “shining city on the hill” (in Reagan's definition) that the senator cited in his farewell speech, in the face of the isolationist pessimism and populist nationalism of the MAGA movement, acronym of Make America Great Again. A creed more akin to the ideals that guided the Conservative Party in the dark twenties and thirties, when some of its factions flirted with Nazism.

The big lie

“Most traditional sectors have come to the conclusion that they need him to win, that it is not possible to do much to throw him out and that they just have to wait for him to disintegrate on his own,” said David M. Drucker, an analyst, said in a telephone interview with the conservative media outlet The Dispatch. In late 2021, Drucker published “In Trump's Shadow,” a book in which, based on dozens of interviews, he outlined the battle to succeed the former president in the 2024 election. “It was clearly a misjudgment,” Drucker admits two and a half years later. “When I started working on the book in 2020, it was clear that he would lose, but no one could have imagined that he would convince the majority of Republican voters that he had not really lost and that the election would be his was stolen . This has allowed him to once again present himself with the strength of a president seeking re-election, rather than a loser wanting to try again. When he came onto the scene nine years ago, the kind of populist Republican he represents was marginal in a party dominated by a moderate establishment. Now he’s the establishment.”

In Drucker's defense, he wasn't the only one who underestimated Trump. Perhaps the former president's lowest point came midway through Biden's term, with the November 2022 general election in which Republicans, who had expected a landslide victory, had to settle for a minimal victory in Congress as they watched Democrats expanded their representation in the Senate. The analyzes then agreed to blame Trump for supporting extremist candidates in crucial states, which turned off moderate voters. That certainty, along with the appearance of a rising star on Florida's horizon, Gov. Ron DeSantis, prompted the media to begin preparing the paperwork for Trump's political demise. A little more than a year later, DeSantis emerged as a shooting star, dropping out after the Iowa caucuses last January.

UC Berkeley professor Dan Schnur, who has worked as a strategist on four presidential campaigns, believes DeSantis might have had a chance if it hadn't taken him several months to throw his hat in the ring. “Primary results and support for Haley [que registró sus mejores cifras, un 43% en New Hampshire, y un 40% en Carolina del Sur, su Estado natal] suggest that there is a sizable minority of voters who want to return to a more traditional Reagan-style conservatism. However, Haley has also failed to broaden that base, suggesting that Trumpism will dominate the lineup as long as Trump is there.”

Few would have said it, Schnur admits, when the former president launched his 2024 election campaign. He did so in another surge forward, just days after the general election setback. It was at an angry and unpleasant event at Mar-a-Lago (Florida), his Palm Beach residence. The campaign stalled for months after that, and in the meantime, the House Investigations Committee released its damning report on Jan. 6 recommending that the former president be prosecuted for four crimes, including insurrection.

Trump cardTrump, on November 15, 2022, when he announced he would run again in this year's election. JOE RAEDLE (AFP)

His luck changed on a Saturday in March 2023 with a message on his social network Truth warning that he would be arrested the following Tuesday in New York for an old account still pending in court: the alleged black payment in the Year 2016 for buying the silence of the porn actress Stormy Daniels about an extramarital relationship between the two, which he denies. In his new book about Trump, Tired of Winning, veteran Washington journalist Jonathan Karl says that the tycoon published this message without any more solid evidence than the fact that he saw the repeat at 6 a.m. on a barely-audience show on the MSNBC network had the statement made two days earlier by a commentator who assumed that an indictment had been filed in New York.

The title of Karl's book is an homage to one of Trump's most famous boasts from April 2016: “We're going to win so much you'll even get tired of winning.” “His most visible defeat came in 2020, but he lost before his entry into the White House and continued to do so afterwards,” writes Karl. “Although there is one area where Trump has proven himself to be an infallible winner. Time and time again, he defeated once-prominent Republicans who tried to unseat him, and in doing so he reshaped the party in his image.”

The Prisoner PO1135809

With the New York indictment, Trump began to highlight the martyr's speech and repeat variations of this phrase at his rallies addressed to his people: “When they come for me, they really come for you, but don't worry,” because I remain steadfast in my path.” With each new legal mess, his popularity grew, and with it the fundraising and the variety of items from the MAGA universe (a veritable waste of imagination): among those that sell best are those , playing with the photo of prisoner PO1135809. taken last August when he was indicted in Atlanta over the election coup he was attempting to carry out in Georgia.

T-shirts and hats bearing the image of Donald Trump's Atlanta mugshot at a store in Los Angeles. T-shirts and hats bearing the image of Donald Trump's Atlanta mugshot at a store in Los Angeles. MARIO ANZUONI (Portal)

In addition to this case and that of Stormy Daniels, Trump faces two other trials involving a total of 91 felonies: in Florida over the Mar-a-Lago papers, boxes and boxes of confidential documents that he unlawfully stole from the White House; and in Washington for attempting to overturn the results of the November 2020 polls and for the events leading to the January 6 insurrection. For now, the strategy of delaying the trials is working for his lawyers, thanks (in other news of the week) to the Supreme Court's decision at the end of April to consider whether presidential immunity helped him in these final months in the White House. Hopefully there will be legal proceedings after the election.

“One of the most unusual things about Trump is that his supporters don’t blame him for any of their failures,” Drucker notes. “It's always someone else's fault: the overly soft Republicans, the Democrats, the media… It's never your fault.” It's a strange mix: They see him as a strong man, capable of almost anything However, if he appears incapable of doing something, it is only because he could not do anything about it. If he loses in November, Drucker does not rule out running again, perhaps with his own party, in 2028. “And if he doesn’t win, it will be in 2032. Unless he’s dead,” he adds.

His case is so extraordinary in American politics that even that seems possible. Another thing is that his fall and rise can be studied in schools of political leadership: his tricks seem inimitable, the tricks of a magician skilled in improvisation and chaos.

Nor is there much precedent in history books for Trump's attempt to return to the White House four years later: “The only somewhat relevant example is Grover Cleveland, the only president to serve non-consecutive terms at the end of the century.” XIX. Theodore Roosevelt tried it and it didn’t work,” presidential historian Russell Riley recalled in an email. The expert agrees that what is “particularly unusual” about Trump is his status as a “serial loser” whose party does not treat him as such. “The only thing that is certain at this point,” he says, “is that the way he did it will continue to preoccupy historians for a long time.”

All signs indicate that there will continue to be work for Pam Miller and her wandering old white truck with the number 45 on the roof.

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