As former President Donald Trump has warned his supporters on social media that the Justice Department is planning to arrest and indict him once again — this time for supposed insurrection charges for the Jan. 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol riot his administration suppressed in real time — polling indicates that the targeting of Trump may be helping him politically to lock up the Republican nomination for 2024.
In the latest batch of national polls in the RealClearPolitics.com average, Trump continues to his nearest rival, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, by an average of 32.8 percentage points, or 53.7 percent to 20.9 percent.
Call it the law of unintended consequences. The political goal, as it has been since the failed impeachment of Trump when he was leaving office, is to disqualify Trump from even running under Section 3 and 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment — which would take votes in Congress — for something he didn’t even do, and for something the Senate already acquitted him of.
Doing so does considerable damage to our electoral system, potentially leaving the question of who is the next president behind the closed doors with 12 jurors making the first critical decision to convict, and then once again in the halls of Congress to disqualify him.
159.7 million people voted in the last election, the largest nominal turnout in American history. That’s where the decision for 2024 or any election should rightly be — with the American people.
What is ironic is that Trump’s political foes in the Biden administration and state governments targeting him with wrongful prosecutions cannot see how this bolsters Trump politically. He has been repeatedly targeted by federal intelligence agencies and the Justice Department, first with the Russigate hoax that falsely accused him of being a Russian agent, and then documents he declassified by virtue of removing them from office while he was still president, and now for the U.S. Capitol riot he had no part in.
It’s the boy who cried wolf syndrome, or in this case, the boy who cried bear, and comes amid a backdrop of unequal justice as President Joe Biden and his family appear to have managed to evade prosecutions of their own to do with alleged bribery schemes.
This helps Trump secure Republican support in particular in two ways: 1) it suits Trump’s political narrative of being beset on all fronts against an entrenched and corrupt Washington, D.C. establishment (i.e. the Swamp); and 2) it becomes a matter of sheer survival politically for Republicans who come to realize that what’s at stake is their own ability to choose their party’s nominee.
For Trump, that’s a T-ball politically to ask his followers and potential supporters in essence, “Are you going to let the Justice Department and intelligence agencies decide who gets to be president?”
For Republicans, the answer will be an emphatic no as Trump becomes the default choice in the primary. He’s already secured a martyr status, no matter what comes of the prosecutions. Convictions might help him even more as “Free Trump” billboards, bumper stickers and other messaging begin appear all across the country.
In the meantime, issues in the campaign, whether on trade, border, the federal bureaucracy, corporate ESG incentives and so forth, slide into the background, with the race dominated by questions of President Joe Biden prosecuting his political opponents in a tyrannical fashion akin to banana republics and other dictatorships that the framers of the Constitution sought to avert in 1787.
And at the end of the day, they’re expecting Republicans in Congress to vote to disqualify Trump, who is clearly leading the race for the GOP nomination as the frontrunner, thereby destroying the Republican Party as a whole by disenfranchising their most loyal supporters. It would be franchicide.
In the most recent Gallup survey of voter affiliation taken in June 2023, Republicans encompass but 25 percent of the electorate, Democrats 27 percent and independents make up a whopping 44 percent. Meaning, of Trump’s base of support of 74 million voters in 2020, roughly half of them are not even Republicans, they are independents and small number of Democrats who support him.
They’ll be disenfranchised, too, leading to a potential annihilation of Republicans at the polls in 2024 as millions of voters who supported Trump but not necessarily Republicans simply stay home if Trump is removed from the ballot by his own party, even just a few members. But in case they doubt it, as the saying goes, House and Senate Republicans can mess around and find out.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.
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