Good Friday Morning, and welcome back! I hope everyone had their fill of Thanksgiving food and is enjoying the Christmas season. I noticed that the Hallmark channel was already going 24/7 on the Christmas movie front. I ran a poll last year at work asking people whether or not Hallmark movies were good or not. Good ran away with the vote, but there was a distinct gender difference in the office.
Although I took last week off on the newsletter front, I did have podcasts and columns published last week. I’ve linked them below. This week, I go through why I don’t believe we’re in a post-Trump moment. At this point, I’ve chalked this election up to a Trump loss (barring something unforeseen). I expect Trump to announce his campaign election for 2024 soon and go through the politics of that.
- A friend and coworker of mine wrote a book on the evidence for the Christian faith. The book is: “The Rational Faith: A Review of the Evidence for Christianity.” Check it out on Amazon, purchase it, and help him out with 5-star reviews. He posted that it had opened up and topped the charts of certain Christian apologetics categories on Amazon. I’d appreciate any support my readers gave to his book.
Where you can find me this week
Please subscribe, rate, and review my podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play — the reviews help listeners, and readers like you find me in the algorithms. Make sure to sign up for the Conservative Institute’s daily newsletter and become a subscriber at The Dispatch, where I’m a contributor.
American exceptionalism saves the day on COVID-19 – The Conservative Institute.
Officials continue to destroy public trust ahead of Thanksgiving – The Conservative Institute.
Republicans should get Green Party on the Ballot – The Conservative Institute.
Barrett era kicks off with defense of religious liberty – The Conservative Institute.
2024 begins. But first, the 2020 electoral college.
I’ve still yet to see a single argument in any court case brought by the Trump campaign — or anyone currently or formerly affiliated with it — that indicates the election results will change. I start there because I was laughing at an internal Slack chat I’m in where there’s an active discussion on how to write for right-leaning audiences and describe Biden. Do you use “President-elect” with all the lawsuits and expectations on the right? Or use some other description?
It’s a fair question. The official answer is that once the electoral college votes, that’s the end of everything. That vote settles the question. And the Trump campaign has presented no evidence to any court to change a single result in any state. Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis tweeted, “If you’re still tweeting “where’s the proof?” then you don’t understand the definition of proof or evidence.”
Well, if that’s the case, she needs to walk into the Third Circuit and explain it to the judges there, who said (100% accurately):
Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.
A conservative wrote that opinion and line. The Trump campaign has only alleged fraud in press conferences and hearings before legislatures. The “smoking gun” affidavits they claim to have aren’t going before courts. They’ve presented zero pieces of evidence to a single court in American that fraud occurred. They seem to be attempting to convince various states to get their electors to vote for someone who didn’t win the popular vote of a state.
For those that don’t know, what happens after election day is the electors of a state all go to Congress and cast their vote for who should win the Presidency. Traditionally, what that means is whoever wins the popular vote of that state will win those electoral votes. This fact is assured because most states nominate electors from the party who wins that state. That ensures the electors to vote for that specific candidate. However, some states go further and command electors to follow the state’s vote results by statute with a penalty.
The Supreme Court upheld these laws this year, preventing what is called “faithless electors.” That is an elector who does not vote according to the outcome of a state’s election. The case in question involved Washington state electors refusing to vote for Hilary Clinton and instead cast electoral ballots for Donald Trump. In reality, the only way to change the electoral vote (aside from lawsuits proving widespread fraud) would be for the winning candidate to die between election day and the day the electoral college votes. There’s a footnote to this effect in the latest Supreme Court case on this topic (authored by Kagen, 9-0 in its judgment):
The [Washington state] Electors contend that elector discretion is needed to deal with the possibility that a future presidential candidate will die between Election Day and the Electoral College vote. We do not dismiss how much turmoil such an event could cause. In recognition of that fact, some States have drafted their pledge laws to give electors voting discretion when their candidate has died. And we suspect that in such a case, States without a specific provision would also release electors from their pledge. Still, we note that because the situation is not before us, nothing in this opinion should be taken to permit the States to bind electors to a deceased candidate.
So basically, if Joe Biden happened to die before the electoral college vote, then everything changes. States could unbind and even select a different slate of electors. And who knows who wins in that kind of turmoil. For reference, “The Electoral College Votes will be cast and counted on 14 December, which must then be delivered to Vice President Mike Pence, in his capacity as Senate president, by 23 December. When the new Congress is sworn in on 6 January 2021 one of their first tasks will be to officially count the vote and Pence will declare the winner.”
Again, this is 2020. So anything can happen this year. If that specific scenario occurs, I’d expect nothing but chaos. I wish no ill-will on anyone. I just thought about this scenario a bit more after Joe Biden slipped and fell and suffered “hairline fractures in the mid-foot area.”
The 2024 primary.
But I didn’t start this newsletter thinking I’d write about the unlikely scenario Joe Biden passes between now and the electoral college vote. I started this with a different idea in mind. 2024. The jockeying for position is already beginning. Since Trump has ostensibly lost, all the jockeying is on the right, trying to figure out if Trump is running. Axios had the report:
President Trump is likely to announce he’ll run again in 2024, perhaps before this term even ends, sources tell Axios.
Why it matters: Trump has already set in motion two important strategies to stay relevant and freeze out other Republican rivals.
On Tuesday night, Trump was explicit about his 2024 vow, telling guests at a White House holiday party, as tweeted by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins:
- “It’s been an amazing four years. We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
The plan: Trump has made plain he’ll fight to keep his ally Ronna McDaniel as head of the RNC, giving him tight control over party HQ.
- The president has raised $170 million for his “Election Defense Fund” and political operation — of which, the N.Y. Times points out, $125 million+ goes to a PAC that Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, and can be used for future travel and other political activity.
The intrigue: Trump’s 2024 rivals privately tell Axios they assume Trump’s power will fade post-White House, giving them hope they can still run.
Reality check: Several allies who talk regularly to Trump told Axios they believe he’ll announce for 2024, but ultimately not make the run because of what one Republican close to Trump called “hurdles he has never before experienced.”
- “I think he will have more trouble than he can begin to imagine,” the Republican said. “No one is going to let him have a free pass in the primary.”
- “The only question left open is whether the media will give up their addiction to him or not — that will determine a great deal.”
When Axios asked if that was a reference more to political trouble, financial trouble or legal trouble, the person replied: “Yes.”
But announcing would complicate moves by 2024 rivals and would feed Trump his drug — coverage.
One of the pre-election beliefs on the right was that if Trump suffered a defeat, that would signal the end of Trumpism. I’ve long been skeptical of this take on things. If anything, I think the exact opposite could happen. In 2020, Joe Biden ran on the idea of Joe Biden, not the actual person. Four years of Biden doing his thing, and generally being as incompetent in the White House as he was in the Senate, will impact voters’ decisions. It’s one thing to run as a figment of people’s imaginations. It’s another to run on a record.
It wouldn’t shock me to see Trump announce he’s running again before inauguration day. He did this very thing in 2017, announced he was running for re-election the day he won (or very soon after that). Trump running for re-election presents the United States with something it’s only ever experienced once with Grover Cleveland. That’s a leader of the opposition. Varad Mehta made this point on Twitter, and I agree with him:
If Trump does declare that he’s running in 2024, the US would have something it hasn’t had in a long time, if ever: an identifiable, legitimate leader of the opposition. It would be almost parliamentary. I can’t recall that happening in my lifetime. It’d be fairly unprecedented.
In a parliamentary system, the goal of the leader of the opposition is to win the next election. Trump would be like a prime minister who loses an election but stays as party leader to win the next one. Grover Cleveland did it, but that was 130 years ago. It’s a new situation.
There’s no telling how it’d play out. But if Trump announces, especially if he does so on January 20 as Biden is being sworn in, the next four years would effectively be a dress rehearsal for the rematch. The trajectory of US politics would be predetermined in a way it rarely is.
There’s no guarantee this occurs. Trump may spend three years teasing a run and then decide against it. He could die. Biden could quit after a term. He also could die. But that it’s a real possibility is something unusual in our history. And if it does, we’ll all get to see it.
The other thing about the timing is this: it places Biden as the person in charge for 2022. Midterms are typically good for the party that doesn’t have the White House. Republicans could retake the House and increase their Senate majority in 2022. And then, in the rematch, where Biden has to run on his actual policies and performance instead of staying in a basement, Trump and the GOP would be poised (in a good Senate map year for Republicans) to return to power with majorities in every chamber. There’s a non-zero percent chance Republicans could have a super-majority in the Senate.
Politics is rarely, if ever, a straight line, however. If Trump announces his re-election campaign immediately, it gives the media something they desperately want: more Trump. Trump in the White House drove eyeballs to the press, unlike any other politician in recent memory. And Trump, who loves media coverage more than any other human being, would lap it up.
In the process, he’d end up doing what he did in 2016: sap all attention away from any other candidate. I like many non-Trump potential contenders (Cruz, Cotton, Hawley, Rubio, and so on), just as I did the 2016 field. But I also don’t think any of them could compete with Trump.
Trump is the leader of the opposition. He can build that platform out of office by playing all the conservative cable news organizations off each other. For all the ire aimed at Fox News as of late, Trump still actively watches it and interacts with several hosts. The rumor is that he wants his own network. I could see that, but I also tend to agree with Jonah Goldberg and others that if Trump goes that route, he’s more likely to license his name to one of the current cable channels and let them call it Trump TV. Then he doesn’t have to run the network.
These are all the politics that will be in play for the next four years. They don’t include all the events that will happen to us over the next four years. Voters never blamed Trump for the economic downturn due to the virus. We’re still not out of the woods economically speaking. What happens if we experience an actual recession during a Biden term? Many things will happen that we can’t see yet. But whatever happens, it’ll occur during the unique circumstances where we mostly know we’re getting a rematch of 2020 in 2024. Donald Trump is the leader of that opposition.
We’re not in a post-Trump moment. Not even close to it.
Links of the week
Pro-Trump legal crusade peppered with bizarre blunders: Spelling errors, misplaced states and client mix-ups are the main results so far of Sidney Powell’s legal efforts to overturn the election. – Politico
The Conspiracy Theory That Could Hand Joe Biden the Senate: There is no evidence that Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are secretly working for the Democratic National Committee, but no one has definitively disproved it, either. – Politico
The Vaccine Story’s Heroes Do Not Fit the Liberal Narrative – National Review
Biden asks Dr. Anthony Fauci to stay on, advise on COVID – The Washington Examiner
VIDEO: Calling Out Ibram X. Kendi – Glenn Loury & John McWhorter
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire of the week
Disney World Updates Hall Of Presidents To Include Kamala Harris – The Babylon Bee
Thanks for reading!