Two Primal Behaviors Explain Trump’s Post-Presidential Strategy
Donald J. Trump’s White House reality show was officially canceled on Jan. 20, but he is highly motived to retain his loyal audience and stage a comeback from his “set” in Palm Beach, Florida.
Driving Trump’s new “act” are the primal behaviors of flirting and warring — performance art perfected to accomplish his goal of winning the 2022 and 2024 elections.
As the undisputed Republican Party kingmaker for the midterm elections, the former president is on a political fantasy mission that either begins or ends on Nov. 8, 2022. Meanwhile, he wields absolute power with millions of dollars to spend on candidates loyal to him. If the GOP happens to wins back control of the House, Senate, or both, Trump will claim all the credit.
Then it’s time for Trump’s second fantasy — declaring himself the 2024 presidential nominee. And if that were to happen, the question is how many GOP leaders and 2024 hopefuls would accept that declaration and agree to forgo a primary candidacy for the sake of party unity (and stay out of Trump’s line of fire).
Conversely, if Trump’s 2022 charge on Capitol Hill resembles Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, Trump could spend 2024 charging electric golf carts.
Although in political dog years 2022 is decades away, what follows are examples of Trump’s recent statements illustrating the “flirting and warring” chapter in his power playbook.
Flirting: “Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun.” — Feb. 13, after the Senate acquitted him in his second impeachment trial.
Warring: “We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that must be fixed immediately. This election was rigged, and the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.”– his first post-presidential speech at CPAC, Feb. 28.
Flirting: “CPAC, do you miss me yet? Do you miss me?”… “We did even better in the second election than we did in the first. I won the first. We won the second. We did much better. Sort of strange, right?” — CPAC speech.
Warring: “Now more than ever is the time for tough, strong, and energetic Republican leaders who have spines of steel. … There’s only one way to contribute to our efforts, to elect America First Republican conservatives. And in turn, to make America great again. And that’s through Save America PAC and DonaldJTrump.com” — CPAC.
Flirting: “I am not starting a new party. That was fake news, fake news. No. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Let’s start a new party and let’s divide our vote so that you can never win.” — CPAC.
Warring: On March 5, Trump’s lawyers sent “cease-and-desist” letters demanding that the three major Republican Party campaign organizations of the House, Senate, and Republican National Committee, stop using his name and likeness for fundraising.
Flirting: “Actually, as you know, they [Democrats] just lost the White House. But it’s one of those things. But who knows, who knows? I may even decide to beat them for a third time. Okay? For a third time. True…
“The Republican party defends the social economic and cultural interests and values of working American families of every race, color, and creed. That’s why the party is growing so rapidly and is becoming a different party. And it’s becoming a party of love.” — CPAC
Warring: “No more money for RINOS [Republicans in Name Only]. They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base — they will never lead us to Greatness. … Send your donation to Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com. … We will bring it all back stronger than ever before!” — Trump statement on March 8.
“I do not support RINOs and fools, and it is not their right to use my likeness or image to raise funds” –Trump statement on March 9.
Flirting: “It has just been stated that President Trump’s endorsement is the most powerful asset in politics. You believe that? Who would’ve thought that was going to happen?” — CPAC.
Warring: On March 1, a Wall Street Journal editorial was headlined “The Grievances of Trump Past” with the subhead “If he was so great politically for the GOP, why is the party now out of power?” Trump responded in part:
“Mitch McConnell, the most unpopular politician in the country, who only won in Kentucky because President Trump endorsed him. He would have lost badly without this endorsement.” (McConnel won by 20 percentage points.)
The WSJ followed with a March 4 editorial headlined: “Donald Trump’s Georgia Rewrite.”
Trump responded: “Fortunately, nobody cares much about The Wall Street Journal editorial anymore.”
WSJ responded: “For someone who says we don’t matter, he sure spends a lot of time reading and responding to us. Thanks for the attention.”
Flirting: “With your help, we will take back the House. We will win the Senate. And then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be? I wonder who that will be. Who, who will that be? I wonder.” — CPAC.
Warring: “I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. She represents her state badly and her country even worse.” — Trump statement on March 6.
Conclusion: Trump’s mission is clear: Seek and destroy anyone or anything in his path for either 2022 or 2024. His post-presidential political style alternates between bravado flirting and vengeful warring against (RINO) GOP leaders who failed to show total loyalty during a series of controversial events between Nov. 3, 2020 and Jan. 20, 2021.
Analyzing and categorizing Trump’s recent behaviors through these binary communication styles may prompt political pundits to comparatively observe Vice President Kamala Harris’ actions and ask, “Will she be flirting and warring to become the 2024 Democratic nominee?”