Readers of this site will know that as of late I have been talking quite a bit about the future of the Republican Party going forward into 2022 and ultimately 2024. There is an internal debate within the party about whether to run it back with Trump in 2024 or turn the page and go with Ron DeSantis as the future of the party. I have consistently said that I will support Trump if he’s the GOP nominee, but that I prefer DeSantis.
I have not been against Trump during this period, I have just thought that DeSantis would be the better choice.
But now I think I might actually just be against Trump.
Trump revolutionized the Republican Party. He overthrew the party’s Old Guard of the Bushes, McCain, Romney and discredited the party establishment during the course of his 2016 Presidential bid. When Trump won the Republican nomination, many of the people who were in charge of the GOP for decades were kicked to the curb.
It was a great moment in the history of the Republican Party, as the establishment had completely lost touch with the party base and the grassroots. It was long overdue. Essentially it was a big purge of the RINOs and America Lasters.
Trump has since inspired lots of America First candidates to run for political office and has really empowered the GOP base like never before.
There’s an excellent article in American Greatness that explains this far better than I ever could:
In 2016, Donald Trump pulled off an extraordinary political feat only he could have achieved. As the army of highly compensated professional political consultants in Washington, D.C., watched aghast, Trump single-handedly wrested the Republican nomination from the grip of a GOP establishment that had long enjoyed complete control of national and state party hierarchies, fundraising structures, and think tanks that determine policy priorities. As Trump’s rogue campaign trounced establishment candidates in state after state in the GOP primaries—despite the unified opposition of Conservatism, Inc.—he not only defeated that establishment’s lockstep institutional opposition, he defeated their agenda in a way that permanently shifted the debate on the Right and throughout the country.
On his signature issues of immigration, trade, and foreign policy, Trump blew up the two-party orthodoxy that had reigned in Washington for decades. Despite a lack of any discernible popular support, the GOP and Democratic establishments had settled into a broad, corporate-backed consensus in favor of virtually unrestricted immigration, “trade agreements” that subsidized the mass movement of U.S. manufacturing overseas and the mass importation of cheap foreign goods (often the products of slave labor), and interventionist adventurism abroad. Any dissent from this consensus was marginalized swiftly and aggressively by the establishment enforcers of both major parties, with heretics labeled as extremists, lunatics, or both.
Within a matter of months, Donald Trump demonstrated that this seemingly unassailable establishment consensus was, in reality, a paper tiger. Outside of the Washington Beltway, the agenda of open borders, “free trade” with an increasingly dominant and aggressive Communist China, and endless wars abroad, enjoys virtually no popular support. While the D.C.-centric constituencies promoting these policies—deep state bureaucrats, special interest lobbyists, and defense contractors—profited enormously from this general agreement among the ruling class that brooked no dissent, the interests of average Americans oppressed and abused by the elite agenda went almost entirely unrepresented in Washington. Trump’s meteoric rise demonstrated that all that was lacking was a champion independent enough of the major party structures to buck the false consensus.
In the process, Trump both changed the terms of our political debate for good and revealed the profound corruption of major American institutions for the first time to a large portion of the nation’s populace. In a remarkably short time, Trump moved the Republican Party base from relatively passive if unenthusiastic supporters of “free trade,” large-scale immigration, and Bush-era “wars against terrorism” to an America First agenda of economic nationalism, building the Wall, and ending foreign adventurism and nation-building abroad.
Through his effective social media messaging (and his unerring, go-for-the-jugular instinct for highlighting his establishment opponents’ weakness and hypocrisy), Trump altered the national political debate permanently and profoundly, and reconnected countless millions of forgotten and unrepresented voters with a political system that they had largely abandoned.
Indeed, if general awareness of institutional corruption is the prerequisite of reform, Trump is primarily responsible for raising the consciousness of ordinary Americans regarding pervasive institutional corruption and lighting the fuse of an America First revolution to take back the country from an elite leadership class that had betrayed their interests for decades.
Except now he’s sold out. He has abandoned the revolution that he himself started and empowered.
This morning, he announced that he was going to be endorsing Morgan Ortagus for Congress in the 5th District of Tennessee:
Okay, so what’s the big deal?
Well, she will be competing in the Republican Primary against Robby Starbuck, a popular pro-Trump filmmaker who made a name for himself as a conservative voice on social media over the past 5 years.
I personally have been following Starbuck for years, and I think he would be a great Congressman. He’s grassroots and seems genuine.
Virtually all of Trump’s supporters on social media support Robby Starbuck. But Trump went ahead and endorsed Ortagus.
Who is Morgan Ortagus? Well, according to her Twitter bio:
So she was the State Department Spokeswoman under Pompeo during the Trump administration, Navy reserve; former US Treasury and USAID (a front for the CIA), and she is now a Senior Advisor at the Scowcroft Center, which is a branch of the Atlantic Council.
What is the Atlantic Council? It’s a typical Beltway neocon nonprofit think tank. I went and looked at the Atlantic Councils donors and funders, and it’s exactly what you’d expect. Listed on the Atlantic Council’s “Honor Roll” of contributors are a bunch of names you’d probably recognize:
Facebook, Goldman Sachs, the Rockefeller Foundation, the UAE–sounds very America First to me!
“The Honorable John F.W. Rogers” would be the Chairman of the Atlantic Council. According to his Wikipedia page he is on the board of Goldman Sachs, and “assisted 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidates to show that American small business was on their agenda.”
In the next tier of contributors ($500k-$999k) you’ve got names like Crescent Petroleum and Google.
This is the non-profit that Morgan Ortagus works for.
In 2016, she was a surrogate for the Jeb Bush campaign and refused to say if she would support Trump as the GOP nominee:
Additionally, and I don’t know if this is confirmed, people on social media are calling Ortagus a carpetbagger and saying she only moved to Tennessee in the past year. Her Wikipedia page says she was born and raised in Florida, and obviously she spent a lot of time working and therefore living in Washington D.C.
Trump’s biggest social media supporters have vocally expressed disagreement with Trump’s endorsement in this primary:
Following the announcement, a number of staunch Trump supporters said they believe he has backed the wrong candidate, and that he should have endorsed Starbuck, the conservative filmmaker who announced his intention to run for Congress last June.
Among those who said Trump should have backed Starbuck was former White House aide Sebastian Gorka and Kari Lake, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Arizona who has received Trump’s endorsement.
In a reply to a Gorka tweet stating “I’m with Robby Starbuck,” Lake wrote “Me too.”
North Carolina congressman and Trump ally Madison Cawthorn also said will still back Starbuck, despite the former president potentially going with Ortagus.
“I endorsed Robby Starbuck months ago and I stand by my endorsement,” Cawthorn tweeted. “He is the best candidate in the country right now. The MAGA movement needs him in Congress.”
Conservative pundit Candace Owens also said that Trump has got his choice “completely wrong”, and that Starbuck is the “correct pick for Tennessee’s 5th district and Tennesseans have his back.”
As well as being a film and music video director, Starbuck, a political novice, is known for accumulating more than 212,000 followers on Twitter where he frequently posts conservative views.
He announced he’s running for congress last June with a video endorsement from Kentucky senator Rand Paul.
“I don’t endorse many people for Congress, but I’m endorsing Robby Starbuck because he’s one of the good guys,” Paul said.
According to his website, Starbuck will campaign to end COVID-19 related mandates, “fight to keep Critical Race Theory out of our schools,” and support calls for more police funding, rather than having money normally given to law enforcement departments distributed elsewhere.
“I’ll fight all of the Marxist forces that want to destroy our way of life and our unique American identity,” Starbuck adds. “In short, I’ll fight for common sense and American values.”
Trump went against his base on this one. He sided with Official Washington. Morgan Ortagus is a Beltway insider who weaseled her way into Trump’s orbit once it became clear that Trump, not Jeb Bush, was the future of the GOP.
I get that Trump wants to be loyal to the people that worked for him when he was in the White House, but what about the voters that were loyal to Trump all these years? He has sided against them.
Trump has fallen victim to the incestuousness and cronyism of the Establishment–the very thing he ran against back in 2016.
It should be about doing right by the American people, not trading favors and rewarding your cronies. This is Democrat Mafia behavior.
Regular Americans see that Washington is a Big Club that takes care of its own and only its own, and has nothing but scorn for outsiders. Trump, once the great outsider, has become an insider. He has now been corrupted by the Establishment; maybe he’s not a full-blown Swamp Creature yet, but it looks as if he’s given in to the very Swamp that he once promised to drain.
Robby Starbuck is a political outsider, just like Trump was in 2016. Starbuck tirelessly supported and defended Trump on social media for years. And Trump turned his back on Starbuck in favor of the swamp. Instead of breaking down the barriers to entry so that regular Americans could once again have a say in the political process, Trump is pulling up the ladder behind him.
The thing is, Trump himself has great political instincts. He’s shown this time and time again–at least he did when he was first running for President in 2015-2016.
But he is not in control anymore. He is not making his own decisions. He’s been compromised by those in his inner circle, and there is no way to change this fact because the people who are arguably most responsible for steering him down the wrong course are people he cannot fire. It’s his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.
They are the ones who have turned Trump into a sellout.
They’re not the only ones who have corrupted Trump, but they’re the main ones, and more importantly, they’re the only ones he can’t get rid of–nor would he ever even want to.
The American Greatness article I quoted earlier details Trump’s downfall:
But in terms of implementing the populist, nationalist agenda Trump brought to victory against all odds, his administration was a dismal failure in most respects.
On issue after issue, Trump was continually confounded and outmaneuvered by opponents of his agenda, even when the GOP retained a majority in both the House and Senate during the administration’s first two years.
If personnel is policy, Trump made the fundamental and unforgivable error of farming out the staffing of his administration to people and entities (Chris Christie, Mike Pence, the Heritage Foundation) in fundamental disagreement with his agenda on every one of his key issues. Predictably, this led to his being undermined and slow-rolled at every turn by people who regarded his electoral victory as yet another opportunity to push the same old failed pro-corporate, neocon agenda.
Whether because his talents and interest extended only to rallies of supporters and social media messaging or because of some misguided attempt at a “team of rivals” approach to governance in which one’s enemies are kept close and under control, Trump was constantly surrounded by people looking for ways not to carry out the agenda he had been elected to implement.
It’s definitely not the latter. It’s probably the former: Trump is way better at campaigning and holding rallies than he is at actually governing.
The main problem with Trump is he’s easily manipulated. It seems like all you have to do is kiss his ass when you’re in his presence (and in front of TV cameras–that’s a big one) and he will reward you with complete and unwavering trust and support.
The swamp figured Trump out almost immediately. They knew as long as they smiled to his face, they could stab him in the back.
There were many early indications that Trump was being played by his opponents and intraparty rivals and that he lacked the requisite shrewdness—and frankly, interest—to do anything about it. McConnell and Ryan convinced the president (though their planted surrogate Marc Short, a NeverTrumper and Koch Brothers’ stooge that Pence managed to install as Trump’s director of legislative affairs) that, for arcane reasons of congressional procedure, he had to lead his legislative agenda with a repeal of Obamacare. Predictably, with no agreement among Republican members about a plan to replace Obama’s signature achievement, it was an utter debacle, despite three attempts by Ryan to push it through by any means necessary. Thus Trump used up precious political capital on a losing issue for Republicans (and one which he barely emphasized during the campaign), while GOP leadership in Congress came up with every reason under the sun to insist that funding the Wall was neither feasible nor politically possible.
In truth, they had no intention of ever building a Wall and risking the wrath of the GOP donor class, but fortunately for them, it took little effort to deceive Trump. By the time Democrats took back the House majority in the midterms, Trump’s battle to implement his biggest campaign promise was already lost.
When Trump got to Washington, his mindset should have been to trust no one. But did the exact opposite. He apparently thought all the people that had desperately and viciously tried to destroy him during the campaign were now his friends–all that stuff from 2016, eh that’s just politics, right?
Without Flynn around to complicate matters, the Pentagon strategy became the slow roll. They responded to Trump’s insistence on getting the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by explaining to him that a complete drawdown of U.S. troops only could be achieved incrementally according to the “situation on the ground.” Every six months or so, when an impatient Trump would demand to know what had come of his order to bring U.S. troops home, the top brass at the Pentagon would have to come up with a new presentation for the boss to demonstrate progress towards his goal and a new schedule based on “new realities on the ground.” The fact that Trump was so enamored of “his generals” took his focus off the fact that they embodied the very military-industrial complex responsible for the perpetuation of the policy of endless war he had campaigned against.
Trump grew up in an era where “the generals” people in this country looked up to were guys like Eisenhower, MacArthur and Patton. Now we have woke globalist frauds like Milley and Mattis.
But while the career politicians in Congress and in the Pentagon were treacherous in their own right, the biggest problem for Trump is that he was getting terrible advice from the people he trusted the most:
Finally, the elevation of his unelected and unconfirmed daughter and son-in-law to positions of unrivaled power and influence in the White House sealed the ultimate fate of the MAGA agenda, ensuring that enemies of Trump’s signature policies had a beachhead of anti-America First, New York Democrats inside the very gate of the palace.
[During the BLM riots in the summer of 2020] Jared and Ivanka were counseling Trump against taking a heavy hand and in favor of letting the “protestors” blow off steam, lest he risk blowing up the inroads they had made with the African-American community with their pet issues of prison and sentencing reform. What law-abiding citizens of every race saw, however, was exploding chaos and violence in a shocking number of major American cities, and an administration apparently too weak to do anything to stop it.
Now, I’m not saying Jared and Ivanka are treacherous deep staters who are secretly out to destroy Donald Trump. That’s ridiculous.
No, they’re just rich, white liberals who want to be in the good graces of the rich, white, liberal social elite. They want to be welcome at Upper East side cocktail parties and Georgetown soirees. They want to be BFFs with celebrities–like Obama was when he was in the White House.
As far as any actual, real political motivation, Ivanka is probably your typical daughter of a rich and powerful white man: a benevolent racist who wants to Save All The Poor Brown People and do “nonprofit work” and says stuff like, “I don’t agree with my father’s politics!”
At the end of the day, though, it all goes back to Jared and Ivanka being creatures of the socioeconomic class they were raised in. They’re Save The World internationalist bleeding hearts, just like all their friends. That’s why they are the way they are.
In short, as long as Jared and Ivanka are Trump’s most trusted advisers, he is not on our side. And since there’s no chance he cuts ties with his own daughter and son-in-law, it’s time for us to cut ties with him.
Back at Mar-a-Lago, things seem largely the same with Donald J. Trump. Jared and Ivanka are evidently still as influential as ever with the old man, despite the debacles of 2020. The former president has now launched his own think tank, the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), which appears to be a Jared operation. Kushner acolyte Brooke Rollins, a former White House staffer installed as president of AFPI, used the occasion of the organization’s first big gala to partner with Log Cabin Republicans in promoting the “Fairness for All Act,” which effectively would criminalize doctors who refuse to administer life-altering puberty blockers to gender dysphoric children, codifying the radical gender ideology so many parents have been fighting at the local school board level in recent months.
The event also launched the “Pride Coalition” in partnership with the Log Cabin Republicans to further the gender identity politics of the LGBTQ movement within the GOP. Rollins had been a key figure in the Trump White House in moving the president away from a focus on his core issues of law and order, economic nationalism, and restrictions on immigration. Among other things, she counseled Trump against a hard stance on rioting last year for fear of appearing racist, against holding China accountable for the coronavirus outbreak, and against an inquiry into Fauci’s funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology. AFPI is focusing on criminal justice reform, predicated on the notion that the U.S. prison system is systemically racist.
That’s what they’ve been working on for the past year. And Trump is totally cool with it as long as it makes Daddy’s Little Girl happy.
In rallies with the faithful, Trump still enjoys going off on extended riffs about his mistreatment at the hands of the “fake news media,” apparently unaware that they moved on months ago, when he was safely out of the way, to demonizing his followers, “anti-vaxxers,” and those who question the integrity of U.S. elections. He continues to insist that he receive proper credit for his “incredible” accomplishment of rolling out his “beautiful” COVID-19 vaccines with Operation Warp Speed in record time, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the Biden Administration has successfully used universal vaccine mandates as a bludgeon to divide the nation and to hound Trump’s own followers out of their jobs, requiring their kids to be jabbed with a vaccine known to pose certain risks that may outweigh the dangers of the virus itself if they ever hope to attend school in person.
Trump genuinely doesn’t appear to grasp the gravity of the historical moment we are now in. It is a moment in which authoritarians in governor’s mansions across the nation have used “emergency health measures” to seize an unprecedented degree of arbitrary power, issuing mandates that have largely done away with the constitutional rights of their citizens to worship, assemble, and conduct business. It is a moment in which the Justice Department is using the FBI to target parents concerned about what their children are learning in school and in which Big Tech social media titans regularly censor speech they don’t like and deplatform anyone who questions the preferred narrative.
It is a precarious moment, not so much for Donald Trump as for the people who supported him.
Trump doesn’t care about that. He only cares about himself. He cares that the media is mean to him. He cares not about people losing their jobs over vaxx mandates, but about the fact that he’s not getting credit for the big, beautiful vaccines (which don’t work.)
Trump has already had his chance, and he blew it.
He didn’t build the wall. He didn’t fire Fauci. He didn’t get to the bottom of how Covid-19 originated. He stood idly by as the riots of 2020 spiraled out of control. He did nothing to prevent any of the Democrats’ dirty tricks during the election.
I’d recommend reading the whole American Greatness article–really, it’s phenomenal and details all of Trump’s failures in office.
It gives him credit for his trade policies and for bolstering the economy, but then again, he allowed his enemies to destroy the Big, Beautiful Economy with the lockdowns.
Trump was simply outmaneuvered time and time again.
I don’t think Trump truly understands how deep and widespread the corruption is in Washington. I don’t think he fully understands what he’s up against here.
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face, Mike Tyson famously said.
Once the Swamp knocked Trump off balance early in his presidency, he never recovered.
He had this Big, Beautiful Plan for how he was going to Make America Great Again while he was on the campaign trail in 2016, but failed to realize that the Swamp wasn’t just going to roll over and allow him to clean house.
Instead of trusting his instincts–which led him to the White House–he instead trusted people who were trying to undermine and sabotage his administration.
If he had listened to these people on the campaign trail in 2016, he would never have become President. These were the people telling him not to talk about a border wall because it’s “racist.” Until Trump won in 2016, Republican Party operatives thought the path back to the White House was making inroads with Hispanic voters, not winning over the working class white vote in the upper Midwest.
And for some reason, Trump started trusting them and listening to them once he got into the White House.
He was in way over his head. That’s the way I see it.
Trump broke the Republican establishment mold in many ways, but perhaps the most important lesson of his stunning takeover and transformation of a complaisant and corrupt GOP was the example he gave for those who recognize that preserving the republic will require significantly more than election-year posturing and feckless accommodation of the woke, America Last agenda and rhetoric of the Left. He showed there is a huge constituency of American voters looking for political leaders who will stand up unapologetically for their interests and call out those forces (including big corporations) working to destroy our civilization, without fear of offending the bland, poll-tested orthodoxies of the political consultants and the donor class.
Trump’s electoral success in blowing up the old model has inspired a whole new generation of MAGA advocates to take up the political mantle of America First with courage, eloquence, and a greater grasp of the policy details and strategy than Trump himself (and without his political and personality baggage). Maybe the advancement of the MAGA revolution requires a standard-bearer who has demonstrated that he knows how, and where, to push back against the encroaching totalitarianism before it’s too late.
And yet, here’s Trump today, turning his back on Robby Starbuck in order to promote the Washington careerist Morgan Ortagus.
Now, I actually think this is going to backfire on Trump. You already see all the Republican influencers and pundits who have broken with Trump on this endorsement.
I mean, sure, there are a lot of people out there who believe Trump can do no wrong and that his word is gospel, but I think there’s even more people out there who understand that “America First” and “MAGA” are ultimately not dependent on Trump.
Trump would be nothing without the MAGA movement, not the other way around. The Silent Majority has been around for a very long time–it carried Nixon to a landslide in 1972, and Reagan in 1984.
Trump is just the first candidate since Reagan to actually genuinely represent the Silent Majority.
You really think that without Trump, we’d go back to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush? We are never going back to the way things were pre-2016. Never.
It was the Republican voters that propelled Trump through the GOP Primaries and ultimately to the White House in 2016. He couldn’t have done what he did without them.
Trump didn’t create MAGA. MAGA existed long before Trump. It hasn’t always been called “MAGA,” but American Patriots who are sick and tired of an out-of-touch and unaccountable ruling class? That didn’t start in 2016. That goes all the way back to 1776.
Trump merely tapped into that energy. MAGA energy will exist with or without Trump.
Trump has proven himself incapable of leading the movement, and so now it is time to move on and find someone who is capable.