May 3Liked by Richard Hanania

The Republican party is a policy free coalition that is largely held together by grievance. They love a "fighter"...no, they can't really tell you what or who they are fighting against or what or who they are fighting for, why, what strategy or tactics to use in the fight or even what victory looks like. They'd all have different answers to those questions if they've even thought of them at all

I don't even know that many could tell you specifically what Trump has done to "fight" for them beyond holding rallies, setting his hair on fire on cable news or shitposting on twitter.

I also don't think many could tell you in what ways Trump has "won" anything for them in this "fight". If you're a conservative, a Christian or even a non liberal of any sort, pretty much everything in America is worse for you now than when Trump rode down the escalator. Everything is worse since more or less every institution, every company every TV personality...every university, everyone who reads, has a good job an advanced degree ...more or less all these are aligned against you like never before in America.

But for all this, Trump's bond with aggrieved Americans persists because he actually loses most things just like they have and--this is key--he's able to present the loss as part of an orchestrated campaign against him by shadowy forces.

This is why BTW it is just wrong to say this is not at all about economics or cultural decline...the GOP used to represent the most successful people in America and the dominant culture. It was the left who represented the aggrieved and the cultural weirdos.

The rise of Trump was only possible because people outside the coasts, the big blue cities, the inner collar burbs and college towns have seen their relative place in America decline pretty steeply in the last 30 years. The poorer congressional districts in America are now more likely to be red than blue. Many know they are worse off economically culturally but they don't know why... they know something is wrong and they are no longer willing to elect the same kind of pre Trump leaders anymore.

I think fundamentally this is why Desantis doesn't quite connect. Yes he's passed lots of laws about this and that but at the end of the day his fundamental pitch is an old Republican one to people who are successful and know how to use the system to their advantage.

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I think part of the reason for his success is the lack of femininity in his character. As Richard has written about before, literally everything we have (from Star Wars to bud light) is being feminized because of the power of women tears in the market place of ideas. He openly rejects this and flaunts it. When questioned on his "grab em by the pussy" comments, a question that would have brought any politicians to their knees, he calmly responded that "this is locker room talk" and the accusation trickled off of him like water off a rain coat. Everything these days is being sanitized to avoid pissing of college educated women and effeminate men. Yet trump disregards all these social norms and conventions enforced by the neurotic types and it drives them crazy because he refuses to play by their rules. DeSantis, still plays by the rules. Trump does not, hence why people men and republicans in particular like him.

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May 3Liked by Richard Hanania

Very good article. I think another way of putting it is that affect and body language provide honest signals of confidence and dominance that can’t be faked.

Desantis’ only chance is if he actually is a tough asshole to the core and can provide that type of appeal, combined with Trump being done in by legal problems.

I do think Trump would’ve been in a much better position, though, if he had never done the election denialism.

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What's missing from this analysis is just how Trump himself single-handedly changed the Republican Party. Never-Trumper David French was literally a National Review writer who toed the party line for decades, yet he's now called a RINO even though his policies are basically the standard Republican policies before Trumpian populism. Nowadays the Republican Party is more American Affairs and less National Review. Right-wing populists make fun of National Review and "Con Inc." Tucker Carlson used to love corporations, now he rails against them. Trump changed the party on an ideological level and the Romney-Ryan big-business types are losing power fast.

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I'm afraid that you're on-point here. The campaign may only be approaching the end of the first quarter, but Trump is already up by 30 points. Not an insurmountable lead, but it will take an epic collapse for the gap to be closed.

I don't completely agree with your strong man theory of the GOP (Gingrich was much more of an alpha male than Mitt Romney in 2012, and though he was a war hero, nothing about McCain in 2008 screamed alpha either), but I do think DeSantis is being exposed as a someone who can only be successful in a carefully crafted political space, whereas Trump can thrive in nearly any environment, and to a certain degree, needs that confrontational environment to support his message to the base.

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I wish this were not so perceptive and correct, as I do not want him to be our president again.

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Maybe. I think there's a great danger in trying to read too much into polling movement at this stage in the cycle. The race was basically stable until Trump got indicted, which probably drove a few potential DeSantis supporters to switch back to Trump out of not wanting to have their candidate chosen by the Manhattan DA's office. It probably will prove meaningless in the broader sweep of the campaign.

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Sad but probably true.

Right now Trump is the biggest thing holding conservatives back. If he had either been convicted by the Senate after January 6 or died at some point in 2021, the GOP would be in a much better position.

I'm fully expecting a Biden win again. Trump is a grifter, a fraud, and not a true conservative, with him being unacceptably liberal on certain social issues.

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Everything in the article makes sense and may very well be true. I’m just trying to square this with the fact every person I’ve talked to who voted for Trump has said basically the same thing: “I don’t like the guy but he’s the only one who will say what needs to be said and stand up to the liberals etc etc”. They don’t seem particularly attached to him as a person.

Obviously I have a small sample and this is anecdote. Maybe in the heart of Trump country things are different. Maybe they are attached to him deeply and don’t recognize it or somehow unconsciously disavow it. I don’t know...

I’m curious about others’ experiences with this. Great article as always. Really made me think.

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Unless Trump vs Biden polls change drastically, GOP should change the primary rules and screw over MAGA. Invent something like "superdelegates" or something.

GOP needs better control of the nomination process so they can eliminate bad candidates like the Dems did with Bernie. And I know Trump would and will attempt to screw over the eventual nominee if it isn't him. But RFKJr might provide a counter weight.

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I like the general thrust of the article, but I strongly disagree with your generalization that Republicans, “... don’t believe in ideas...” all the Republicans I know are all about ideas. They are not non-specifically angry at the “elites” as much as they are frustrated that their political opponents tend to refuse to discuss ideas, as opposed to pushing various narratives.

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May 3·edited May 3


Let me make this very clear to pepole that still don't seem to get it.

Trump is effective because he isn't a neo-con/neo-lib. PERIOD. Just like Bernie Sanders (sort of) rose to popularity with the left, because he wasn't the establishment, warmongering sell-out. Ed: yes, he had to kiss the ring from time to time, but you gotta drain the swamp slowly, at first. Remember he was fighting both parties at the same time, often.

As soon as DeSantis was caught being fluffed by the Pub establishment, when it became common news (amongst those who cared to know), that's when he cratered.

Trumpism, imo, started with the TEA Party, anti-forever war of the mid-late 2000s. It is a modified Libertarianism, that promotes American workers over the free marketers in that party. Trumpism people are small FEDERAL government, anti-interventionalists with teeth (see Iran bomb and NKorea detante).

Trump is not a globalist, this is what the intelligencia seemingly cannot even begin to grasp. The foundation for the country is the small to large: Individual, family, community, state, nation - the priority is in that order. this is the polar opposite of the mainstream, swamp creatures, the CIA talking heads in the msm, and the overly-educated who believe they know what is best for everyone.

That's it.

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Wow, so another six years of Democrats I guess. Trump is the ONLY candidate Biden can beat. Its not about fairness, it's about actually winning. The Dems are desperate for Trump.

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Another banger of an article, though if you had wanted to enrage and polarize people more you could have pumped up the focus on the skill Trump has at doing this, and simultaneously also the gullibility of the people who vote for him. Both those elements are there, but they're not as emphatic as in some of your more provocative work.

I absolutely love Trump -- he is the greatest entertainer alive, and arguably the GOAT. I don't support him politically. Politics are a joke nowadays, though, and he's a hell of a jokester.

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I'll vote for De Santis in the primary, but I'm not a hardcore fan anymore. It has nothing to do with your childish analysis.

The main reason is his abortion fiasco. I'm generally pro-life. I don't mind his move on a moral front. But pro-life isn't like my #1 concern, in fact I mostly just like pro-life because its pro-fertility and family values. School vouchers, child tax credits, wokeism/affirmative action, and not starting a nuclear war with Russia/China are my top concerns (during COVID it was NPIs by a long shot). Because they are real material things that affect my life. I want politicians to give me back my $$$ number one.

When De Santis signed a 15 week ban I thought "that seems like a sensible compromise he can sell". It sent the message that abortion was bad but mostly let people alone. Edge cases could get a plane ticket to another state. I never understood why he went to six weeks. I don't necessarily have a huge moral problem with it, but he didn't NEED to go to six weeks. It might cost him the presidency and other things I care about a lot more then a six week abortion ban.

To be told that he just meekly muttered into it is disappointing. Same with Ukraine. I wonder if outside of COVID and wokeness the dude just doesn't have a spine or is a bit autistic.

Finally, Trump understands that Social Security/Medicare ain't getting reformed this cycle. If you don't like it it's kind of like abortion. Probably the right thing to do but it's not the right time. Republicans spend so much political capital on this stuff and never have anything to show for it. They should just try to pass massive child tax credits and school vouchers. That will help with dependency ratios and starve the beast for entitlements.

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At the risk of inflating your head more, damn, why do you have to be correct?

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