Being Right: Will Trump Run Again? Should He? Yes, and No.

Eddy Zhang, Commentary Editor

Biden has practically handed the Republicans the keys to the White House on a silver platter: he’s delivered a cost of living crisis, a border crisis and a string of foreign policy failures that have thrown the world into chaos, and the country is simply worse off now compared to before Biden took office. Yet, it remains unlikely that Republicans will be able to win come 2024. Why? Because Trump is still in the picture. 

Trump will run again in 2024. And he will almost surely torpedo the chance of Republicans taking back the presidency from the Democrats. I believe it’s inevitable at this point — nothing will stop him. If Ron DeSantis or any other spirited Republican challenges him, he won’t back down. In fact, if Trump loses the nomination, he will likely bring the entire ship down with him. Even if the Department of Justice indicts him, that would only make capturing the presidency and its legal protections even more urgent for him and his allies. Trump could be convicted, and he could still run for office, dooming any chances of the Republicans winning in 2024. 

Amid fertile political soil, Republican party elites are sleepwalking toward a landmine: the prospect of Trump seizing the 2024 nomination. One only needs to look at the steep legal troubles surrounding him and his cronies to find the major incentive forcing him to run again. 

Trump faces four major legal probes from four different directions— two federal probes and two state probes. On the state side, Trump’s political allies have been subpoenaed by the state of Georgia in a criminal investigation looking into interference with the state’s electoral process. In New York, two parallel investigations are taking place, one initiated by the Manhattan District Attorney and another by New York’s Attorney General. 

Ongoing federal investigations looking into the events that led up to the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are still yielding major implications for Trump and his close allies. Only a week ago, the New York Times reported that the Department of Justice issued 40 new subpoenas against various Trump aides in an effort to expand the scope of their investigation. Many of his closest legal and political advisors have had their phones seized, and the New York Times also reported that the scope of the investigation is widening, with everything from Trump’s fake elector scheme to his post-election fundraising being scrutinized. It is not difficult to imagine that the Department of Justice will eventually draw different lines back to Trump himself. After all, he was the one spearheading efforts to pressure Congress to alter the results of the election. 

And of course, no one can ignore the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Federal investigators found over 100 unsecured classified documents at the property, despite one of Trump’s lawyers indicating to the National Archives that Trump possessed no classified material. By finding these documents, the Department of Justice likely has a smoking gun to support a criminal indictment against the former president for violating the Espionage Act and obstructing justice. 

Of course, all of these legal factors would prevent any normal person from running. But Trump is no normal person. He feeds off of liberal contempt and anger; his political position is only strengthened by controversy. Most who still support him do not support him because of any concrete policy positions, but because he triggers all the right people. Right after the FBI searched his estate, a poll conducted by Morning Consult found that primary support for Trump among registered Republicans reached all-time highs. 58 percent of GOP voters indicated that they would support Trump in 2024, while 71 percent said they believe Trump should run for president in 2024. Interestingly, the increase in support for Trump came at the expense of DeSantis’ poll numbers, who saw his support slump by the same amount. 

The incentive for Trump to run is that if he wins, then he can use the office of the presidency to shield himself and his allies from the criminal justice system. Moreover, Trump has an ego to look after. Denying the results of the election has prevented the usual party backlash that occurs against the nominee who loses the election. Trump understands the primal truth that losers are not loved, and he will do anything he can to preserve his credibility among his supporters — even if it comes at the expense of the country as a whole. 

If Trump loses the primary, it is unlikely that he will back out gracefully. In 2016, he was the only Republican candidate who refused to commit to supporting the eventual nominee. If he refuses to support the nominee in 2024, or worse yet, contests the outcome of the primary, then Joe Biden will face off against a completely divided party. 

No matter what, the Republicans are positioning themselves to lose again. And as usual, they will have no one to blame but themselves.