November , 2023
Is it going to be Trump again
18:08 pm

Tirthankar Mitra

Hardly covering himself with glory during his presidential tenure, Donald Trump seemed to be destined to political wilderness when he stepped down to make way for his Democrat rival Joe Biden. His nomination after Joe Biden’s term was not quite in the reckoning of not having even a slim chance when he left White House. 

It marked the end of an inglorious tenure and a second shot at the presidency was nowhere in the cards. But Trump seemed to have set the task for himself to emerge to challenge Biden in the presidential election next year as the Republican nominee  with opinion polls indicating that Republican voters have brushed aside  the political gaffes and the foot-in- the-mouth remarks  which were not at all high points of the Republican president’s period in office. 

Delving deeper into political dynamics of the US than are suggested in headlines, Trump for all its faults seems to be a relatively  more popular candidate to the Republican voters than other candidates who may throw their hats in the ring. Like it or not, most of them want him to return to the White House. 

It boils down to Trump’s undiminished popularity among Republican voters. In other words, the mindset of most of the Republican voters remains unchanged by his felony indictments, rude remarks and other deeds which are nothing to write  home about. 

But subsequent facts look at his critics in their faces following which their disparaging  take on Trump does not quite wash. Trump has skipped the Republican candidate debates owing to his popularity . Such is his acceptance that he has charted his own course in the states nomination caucuses and primaries. And the most important factor in Trump’s favour is that he is ahead of his rivals in opinion polls. Believe it or not, polling indicates his position  among Republican voters has been cemented by the indictments. 

Trump’s voters are not averse to his “outsider” status and in fact they like it. The former resident of the White House have used the criminal indictments as evidence that the Establishment is out to get him, underscoring  his “outsider” status. 

Trump makes an effort to send a message that he is different. Sitting down and talking to striking auto workers in the swing state of Michigan is a pointer to it. No Republican candidate has so far felt strong enough to do this. Trump seemed to be determined to walk down a road less travelled. 

Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who was ambassador of the Trump administration in the United Nations appear to be emerging as his challengers. Their presence does not silence the questions  doing the rounds in the Republican circles regarding who can be Trump’s alternative. The duo pursue different constituencies within the Republican Party, especially its approach to foreign policy issues. Haley strongly opposes the isolationist America-first policy. Her support to US military aid to Ukraine has no  camouflage and is likely to find her support from die-hard Trump followers. Referring to Ukraine as “a territorial dispute” , DeSantis is appealing  to isolationist Republicans. His scepticism to a US pursuing a vigorous role in Ukraine is thus discernible. 

But the Haley-DeSantis debate goes beyond foreign policy domain with the former appealing to Republican women voters with a relatively  moderate position on abortion. Targeting Trump supporters, DeSantis highlights his efforts to fight corporate advocates to social policies and the policies themselves. 

Vivek Ramaswamy’s supporters may end up in the Florida governor’s support though it is likely to be widespread given there is no love lost between Trump and DeSantis. As other candidates fall away their supporters are likely to join the ranks of those with Haley sparing her the effort of going the extra mile to woo Trump supporters.  

Whoever emerges winner in the Haley-DeSantis race will have to give a credible reply to the Trump campaign that he did not lose the presidential election to Biden. Trump has been harping on this and his intra-party rival has to highlight that apart from this “Big Lie,”- the former president has been on a losing spree for quite some time be it losing majority to both Houses of Congress in 2018 or his reelection to Biden in 2020, not making him an ideal Republican candidate for the next presidential election next year. 

Even as the toss up in the Republican camp is likely between Haley and Trump, no need for Ukranians of losing  sleep being  ever chary of the prospect that America will leave them out in  the cold in the unlikely event of Haley

 making it to the White House. They only have to consult not too distant American history to feel assured of US support. 

Panama Canal treaties by previous US presidents were lambasted as giveaways to foreign powers with Republican nominee in 1976 and 1980 Ronald Reagan pointing an accusing finger at former presidents.Yet once Reagan was ensconced in the White House, he did not abrogate them.In the unlikely event of DeSantis making it to the Oval office, he will continue to pursue an internationalist policy. 

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