At first glance, Donald Trump is hardly the kind of character we need to “know” – after all, it’s nearly impossible not to have heard of him. Even before he entered politics, he was already one of the most recognizable faces in the country.
And yet, his political project is often misunderstood, or even ignored. Be it due to deliberate strategy or media stereotypes, many people are quick to picture an idea about what Trump’s campaign stands for. But does this match the way he is actually conducting his campaign? And what are the chances that he will succeed again?
About Donald Trump’s Career
As the 45th President of the United States, Trump’s political campaign will always be defined (at least partially) by the hits and misses of his past tenure.
Granted, he did not have an easy term. Few politicians around the world escaped the COVID-19 pandemic with their images unscathed. And yet, before the pandemic rolled around, his tenure had already collected several major triumphs.
Perhaps the most important one was in economic affairs. Partly thanks to an unusual supermajority, President Donald Trump had the rare opportunity to reshape the financial landscape with little opposition. Even after the harsh lockdowns of 2020, Donald Trump’s economic legacy was one of unprecedented job growth and a series of pro-business initiatives that continue to generate wealth.
In other fields, his results were simultaneously mixed and controversial:
When it comes to foreign policy, he pursues an aggressive “America First” position, which led to some isolationism.
His strong stance against immigration and crime was rounded up by the strong support of Police Forces, especially around the 2020 “Black Lives Matter” protests
He relentlessly fought to keep Federal expenses from growing any further
He supported many policies dear to Conservative Christian groups and frequently supports them during public speeches
However, the end of his administration threatens to overshadow any other achievement. For many, the events of January 6th changed the tone of domestic politics irreversibly. With many of the participants still under prosecution, and his own degree of responsibility still to be determined, the insurrection may prove a thorny issue for the rest of his political career.
Donald Trump’s Strategy for 2024
Trump officially announced his bid for the 2024 Republican nomination on November 15th, 2022 – just a few days after the midterms, as is customary. However, he had hardly kept his intentions secret before that. In fact, throughout most of 2022, most political analysts had treated his bid as a matter of “when”, rather than “if”.
And yet, this doesn’t mean that his triumph is certain. There are still a few obstacles in his path toward a Republican Nomination.
Big Announcements, Large Campaigns
Donald Trump officially launched his campaign during an hour-long speech, within a rally that respected all the main elements of his brand: simple language, an aggressive message, and a penchant for “bigger is better” paraphernalia.
Voters can expect Trump to keep the same energy going forward. One thing is certain – he has the funds for it. Thanks to his business expertise and the recognizable “Make America Great Again” brand, his political machinery has access to an unusual amount of funds. His different political action groups (PACs) handle combined assets worth over $124 million. Some of it may be legally earmarked for specific purposes, but it is unlikely he will lack resources.
A Line in the Sand for Republicans
Despite a previous electoral triumph and strong grassroots support, Donald Trump is not universally liked within his own party. 2022 saw a series of experienced Republican figures publicly criticizing him and his movement – including several he had counted among his earliest supporters.
This list includes former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who once was one of his most ardent supporters, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, fellow presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, and even his once-VP Mike Pence. For some, Trump’s figure has simply grown too large, which threatens to distort the identity of the G.O.P. as a whole. For others, his frequent run-ins with prosecutors and the events of January 6th were “a step too far.”
Yet, he is far from friendless. Ever since the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump has shown he is great at mobilizing previously-disenchanted conservative voters. His endorsed candidates may not have the same “easy win” in 2022 that they did in 2018, but he continues to fill stadiums and mobilize donors.
More Controversies to Come
The new year brought further moves to Trump’s grand political play. Currently, he is facing four separate criminal investigations. So far, he has been able to spin most of the accusations (as well as his arraignment) into political “street cred”. It’s also important to note that none of the ongoing probes, or even a guilty verdict, directly prevent him from running. And yet, they can potentially keep many moderates (and the swing states that follow them) away from his rallies.
So far, this is playing out as part of a much-touted rivalry between Trump and Ron DeSantis, the highly popular governor of Florida. So far, polls point at one of them as the future Republican candidate for next year’s presidential election. Whoever wins will likely be facing Joe Biden, who is now officially seeking reelection.
Will this be a legendary remake? Or an altogether new chapter in U.S. politics? It remains to be seen.
Grassroots Pulse covers public policy and political issues aimed at engaging highly-active policy makers, donors, and grassroots leaders at the forefront of the political process in America today.
Image Credit: Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)