Trump seeks second chance to sow chaos
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Donald Trump has been called a lot of things, but no one can say he’s a quitter. And few were surprised when he announced on Nov. 16 that he will once again seek the U.S. presidency.
Mr. Trump, in fact, believes he should still be president, and claims only electoral fraud committed by political enemies kept him from a second term. His four years in the Oval Office roiled global politics, destabilized world markets and further polarized the American people; another stint in the White House would inevitably produce much more of the same.
It isn’t a particularly appealing prospect, for the United States or for the rest of the world.
Mr. Trump, who was impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives, offered yet another serving of his rabble-rousing resentment during his announcement speech that evening from his Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida.
It reprised the aggrieved rhetoric that landed him in the Oval Office in 2016 and nearly won him re-election four years later. The difference this time is that his re-entry into the presidential conversation also worries many in the Republican Party he purports to represent.
Numerous GOP stalwarts who fawned over Mr. Trump’s every word when he won the presidency have turned about-face and pinned the blame squarely on him for the Republicans’ lacklustre showing in this month’s U.S. midterm elections.
The results bear out that sentiment. Most of the Republican midterm candidates who doubled down on Mr. Trump’s election denialism were defeated. The “red wave” that was expected to capsize Democratic Party congressional candidates proved to be a mere ripple.
Republicans wound up with a slim majority in the House, rather than the predicted rout, and the Democrats have retained control of the Senate.
Two candidates who received Mr. Trump’s endorsement are noteworthy examples of the former president’s waning influence: former talk-show host Dr. Mehmet Oz, the defeated senatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, and Kari Lake, who narrowly lost the governor’s race in Arizona (but, in keeping with her mentor’s inclination, has refused to concede defeat).
Other Republican candidates who didn’t receive Mr. Trump’s blessing fared better, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who earned such a resounding victory in his state that he is considered to be Mr. Trump’s main rival for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
While Mr. Trump’s popularity has declined, what hasn’t changed is the GOP’s shift toward far-right attitudes and election denialism.
Ms. Lake lost in Arizona but earned nearly 50 per cent of the vote. Almost 75 million Americans cast a ballot for Mr. Trump in 2020, and only narrow defeats in five states kept him from a second term as president.
Mr. DeSantis signed Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill in March, which bans sexual-orientation teaching to kindergarten to Grade 3 students, and 14 states have banned almost all abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its Roe v. Wade ruling earlier this year.
Bellicose Republican members of Congress who continue to support Mr. Trump have vowed to impeach President Joe Biden — they offer no valid reasons — and to cut off the flow of U.S. funds to support Ukraine its effort to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
At a time when dictators in Russia, China, North Korea and beyond are growing more unpredictable and aggressive, what’s needed now is a stable U.S. government. The chaotic, unpredictable and insular politics embodied by Mr. Trump and his remaining acolytes represent a flailing and fading Republican Party that shouts “Freedom!” at every opportunity but seems dead-set against that very principle.