The ex-president has accumulated electoral defeats and his legal situation is getting worse day by day, but he remains the favorite of the Republicans. For what ?
The Trump mystery will never end to defy explanation. In 2016, he broke all the rules of politics and won against all odds.
Today Trump is formally charged in New York, he is on trial for several other criminal offenses and he continues to break all the rules. However, nothing and no one seems capable of stopping his march towards the Republican nomination. What is going on ? At least three things.
The character does not change
Donald Trump is not the first lying or corrupt politician to rise to the highest level of American politics, but what sets him apart is that he has absolutely no scruples and no sense of honor.
The only president to whom he can be compared is Richard Nixon, but at least, with his back to the wall, Nixon had the decency to slip away.
With Trump, there are never any regrets. It’s always someone else’s fault. He has managed to project an image of strength in the eyes of his staunch supporters as his flight from responsibility reveals utter weakness of character. To date, he has been able to exploit this image, not in spite of, but largely because of the accusations and allegations against him.
The electorate remains polarized
For a long time, the heart of the Republican message has been the demonization of Democrats. For the past few elections, the vast majority of Republicans have remained loyal to the party, regardless of the candidate.
Donald Trump has taken advantage of this demonization by associating with it the grievances and resentments of those who feel threatened by cultural change or excluded from economic progress.
By tapping into these grievances and resentments and legitimizing the darker impulses of these voters, Trump has managed to confuse partisan attachment with loyalty to himself. The Republican Party has become a cult to his personality.
For many Republicans isolated in the right-wing media bubble, the lawsuits against Trump are interpreted as attacks on themselves. No wonder the hard core of the Republican electorate withdraws towards the object of its worship when it faces justice, especially if this one is represented by prosecutors democrats… black moreover.
Shortage of spinal columns
Donald Trump also benefits from the flagrant lack of political courage of his party’s elected officials, who are terrified of standing up to the man who has already ended the political careers of several Republicans who dared to criticize him.
While Republican presidential hopefuls have so far pleaded the need for party renewal or coyly pointed to the electoral woes surrounding Trump since 2018, none have dared to condemn the blatantly illegal actions that have caused Trump’s legal troubles.
Unless a candidate with a backbone comes out of nowhere to confront him and unless the judicial system goes into high gear to convict him (it’s off to a bad start), we will have to get used to the idea of a Trump presidential campaign in 2024.
Can he win and become president again? That’s another question.