In the words of Michael Scott: “No, God, no, God, please no, no, no, noooooo!”
Donald J Trump, alleged rapist, alleged tax cheat, arch-conspiracy theorist, attempted insurrectionist and one-term President of the United States of America has announced that he will … run for President once again in 2024.
Remember in the good old days when Trump was just a cartoon parody of a Wall Street sleaze bag? Popping up in children’s movies as a symbol of New York excess? The hero of serial killer Patrick Bateman from American Psycho?
When that Trump would announce he was going to run for President, like he did in 2000, 2004, and 2012, we all had a good laugh. Even the Huffington Post covered his 2016 campaign under their ‘entertainment’ vertical because no one believed that man could possibly be put in charge of the most powerful nation on the planet, the lynchpin of the global economy, with the largest stock of nuclear arms on Earth.
In 2011, Seth McFarlane joked, at the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump, “It’s pronounced ‘huge’, not ‘yuge’, and it’s pronounced ‘I am f**king delusional’, not ‘I am running for President’. Oh, what fun we had.
Last night however, the world experienced collective war flashbacks as the greatest hits of Trump degeneracy during his time in the White House coursed through our fragile, COVID-battered minds.
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said from his palatial Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. We are coming to take those corridors [of power] back,” he said.
“So from now until election day in 2024, which will come very quickly … I will fight like no-one has ever fought before.”
Similar reactions were made to the news as in 2015, only this time they weren’t funny. This time, they were deadly serious.
The New York Daily News, Trump’s former hometown paper, reproduced seven of its former front pages on the cover of today’s edition, reminding readers of his two impeachments, the riot at the Capitol building, lies about the election being stolen, and his unashamed boasting about sexual assault.
Even former allies were quick to distance themselves from the Trump bid. His former White House Communications Director described him as “a zombie you can’t kill, like in the Night of the Walking Dead.”
Trump’s popularity amongst the Republican base has long been a problem for the party who is paralysed between doubling-down on his rhetoric and moving on. His ‘big lie’ about the election being stolen seemed to harm them during the recent US Mid-Term elections which they were expected to sweep, Instead, they made small gains, only just taking back control of the House of Representatives. It could be a risky path for them to go down to back Trump again.
And yet, he polls as the most popular Republican Presidential candidate nominee amongst Republican voters. They can’t do it without it, but they may not be able to do it with him either.
His announcement speech, clocking in at just over an hour, meandered from foreign threats, the cost of living, and describing American cities as crime-ridden “cesspools of blood.” Uncharacteristically, he made mention of his wife, Melania, saying that his political ambitions have not been easy on her. He also gave thanks to the rest of his political team and avoided any talk of election theft.
Perhaps he gets it and is now dressing himself up in more Presidential language. He has won before, against seemingly all odds, and there’s no guarantee he won’t be able to do it again.
Could Donald Trump Actually Win in 2024?
In 2015, Trump was something of an outsider. Yes, we had decades of his thoughts, actions and opinions on record thanks to his years as a ‘businessman’ and reality TV show host, but his political views seemed as fresh and enticing to some as they were appalling to others.
Seven years later, we’ve seen what a Trump Presidency could actually look like, and many are not convinced.
Rupert Murdoch, the Australian oligarch behind FOX News and dozens of news outlets around the world, has said that he won’t be supporting Trump again in 2024. FOX even cut away from his announcement speech after 40 minutes. Without the support of the Murdoch media empire, and a possible continued suspension from Twitter, Trump will face an uphill battle.
He also has the legacy of election denialism, multiple criminal investigations, and the insurrection on the Capitol building hanging over him. The poor performance of his picks during the Mid-Term elections will also be weighing heavily on the minds of senior Republicans.
Even the far-right trolls from the darkest reaches of the internet, who once boasted of ‘memeing a President into office’, have apparently turned against him.
This all being said, underestimating Trump is done at one’s peril, if the last seven years have taught us anything. With a turbulent cost of living crisis, a recession on the horizon, and conflict with Russia escalating, Biden could very well be in a weak position come election time.
Trump also has legions of loyal supporters still out there, many of whom are typically disengaged from politics. He also has a vast election war chest of “more than $100 million” USD, according to the latest figures. It’s not inconceivable that he could do it again.
What Was Gina Rinehardt Doing There?
One surprising guest at Trump’s announcement speech in Floria was mining magnate and Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart. Although she has yet to publically confirm her attendance, she popped up in the background of a selfie posted by Trump’s son, Eric.
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Rinehart, head of Hancock Prospecting and with a personal fortune of $34.02 billion, has praised Trump in the past and called for similar economic policies, including lower taxes, to be implemented in Australia.
Presumably, she was at Mar-a-Lago to lend her significant support to her preferred US Presidential candidate, given the pair are not unfamiliar to each other.
In 2016 she said that she had met with Trump’s campaign team and said that he won the election because he “listened to the people of America” who wanted “less government tape, secondly less taxation, and for the USA to grow and be economically strong again.” She also attacked the “constant and unrelenting negative coverage” of the former President.
Rinehart also attended a state dinner hosted by Trump at the White House in 2019 thrown for former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.