Donald Trump Could Become President Again

This is a real thing that could happen. Never forget it.

Hey all it’s Tim. I’m planning on bringing back the weekend Triad as a round-up of my assorted thoughts and takes and interests on matters that might not merit a full article. I had a big list of those this week but with impeachment I want to first focus on something that is underappreciated in the discussion around disqualifying Donald Trump. 

Join Bulwark+

1. Trump Could Win Again. Really! 

Now before you roll your eyes and accuse me of being a TDS-addled obsessive—I was honored when The Washington Post noted this week that I was one of the first diagnosees—I want you to understand that this is not a prediction that he will win or even an argument that he is likely to. I just want everyone to recognize and sit with the fact—and it is a stone-cold fact—that he could

The man who tried to overturn the election to maintain power. The man who tried to end our democracy. The man who was egging on rioters who wanted to assassinate his loyal vice president. That guy could become president again. 

It is a harrowing thought, no? 

And yet the only people who can prevent that from happening are now telling themselves a comforting lie: That a future Trump victory is totally not a possibility. 

Senator Lisa Murkowski says: “I don’t see how Donald Trump could be elected to the presidency again.” According to the Hill, other senators in private conversations concur with her, one saying that it would be difficult for Trump to portray himself as an electable presidential candidate in 2024. Karl Rove who provides political advice to many of the jurors—and who was anti-Trump for some time before becoming anti-anti-Trump and then publicly auditioning for the role of Trump 2020 campaign manager—now says that Trump “is effectively tarnished for all time and incapable of running in 2024.” 

And who knows. Maybe he even believes it.

Maybe the Republican senators believe it, too. But whether they truly believe it or not, maintaining this assertion gives them an out. They don’t have to take the tough vote now because, as Mitch McConnell once wisely said when asked whether Trump’s coup attempt would be successful, “The future will take care of itself.” 

Of course, McConnell said that five weeks before the Capitol was sacked.

How many times do these people have to be wrong about Donald Trump and the Republican party before they change their behavior? They all thought he couldn’t win the primary in 2016. Then they thought he couldn’t win the general election. Susan Collins thought he learned his lesson after impeachment numero uno. They all said it would be fine to humor his lies about the election.

And the problem is: They’re not the ones who pay for being wrong. We are!

I’m not an expert on Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence (in fact, I learned about it from Rust Cohle) but I don’t think I should be reliving the same Bad Mango Mistake over and over again without a gap in between events. Alas Republican Senators are holding us hostage in an endlessly recurring Trumpian death loop.

So in a last ditch effort to break them out of it, I want to provide some rudimentary math for y’all to tweet at them. 

2. Probabilities

Right now Donald Trump is the favorite to win the Republican Primary. CNN’s polling analysis has him in a “historically strong position,” even after the insurrection. In my personal view, if Trump decided to run he would be a clear favorite. But there is a lot of time between now and 2024 so let's be generous to the skeptics and say that Donald Trump has only a 30 percent chance of winning the 2024 GOP primary

Now we move to the general election. Even the worst Republican candidate imaginable has a reasonable chance of winning the presidency in a country that is as polarized as ours. Now toss in the GOP’s built in Electoral College advantage. And add on top of that add the fact that there are legitimate questions about Biden’s age and whether he will be able to run again. It’s possible Democrats might be forced to put up a candidate who isn't as strong as Biden, thus eliminating the advantage of presidential incumbency and shaking up Biden’s winning coalition. Given all of that the lowest reasonable odds anyone could put on a Republican winning the White House 2024 general election is 40 percent. 

Now will Trump actually run? Who knows! He’s telling political allies that he’s going to. He likes attention. I don’t know what the actuarial tables say about a man of his age and physical condition making it to 2024, nor do I have inside information on the likelihood that his crimes could catch up to him in district court. So the best anyone could guess is that it’s a coin flip as to whether or not Trump runs. 

So that leaves us with this: 

50 percent chance Trump runs

30 percent chance he wins the Republican primary

40 percent chance he then wins the general election

Put that together and it gives Donald Trump about a 6 percent chance of being elected president in four years. 

A 6 percent chance is not high. It’s not likely. But it’s not zero. 

What’s more, that incredibly conservative 6 percent chance makes him, right now, the third most likely person in America to be elected president in 2024! Just behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

When it comes to catastrophic outcomes in life, we do everything in our power to limit them. Donald Trump back in the White House after he tried to overturn an election would be the definition of catastrophic. 

Think about it this way. If I told you there was a 6 percent chance of you getting into a fatal car accident today, would you go out driving? Or would you take the day off and stay inside?

If Republican senators truly believe that Trump can’t be reelected, then they need to wake up.

But if this new excuse is just another ploy to avoid having to carry out their duties, well, I suppose at this late date there’s nothing we can do to change their minds. After all, if you’re a Republican senator right now, the last four years worked out pretty well for you. And, despite everything, you came within a few thousand votes in Georgia of holding on to your majority.

The ability to never face consequences for your irresponsible actions even after they caused the death of a police officer is the definition of privilege.

Don’t sleep on the future of our democracy.

Join Bulwark+

3. Free Britney and The Good Pillow 

I’ve been talking about Freeing Britney a lot since watching the documentary about her conservatorship which seems on its face to be deeply unfair and has basically made me a militant member of the Britney Army. 

But the biggest thing I reflected upon watching the documentary is how poorly we as a culture treated her as a very young woman. How gratuitous the insults were. Mocking that seemed maybe innocuous as a standalone looked like a grotesque sexist pile on in the aggregate.

It’s no wonder she went a little crazy. She was subjected to psychological warfare by adults who should have known better and were using her to get a laugh. Or, in the case of Jay Leno, to not get a laugh. 

This has made me reflect a bit about our social media age and dealing with younger influencers. 

In particular the guys over at “Good Pillow.” If you haven’t heard: David Hogg, the March for Our Lives organizer who survived the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High, decided to launch a liberal competitor to MyPillow. This is, on its face, a kind of silly prospect and I think we can all agree that about the last thing we need in this country is partisan pillow wars. (It also is probably, unfortunately, a good business idea and I’m sure he’ll get fabulously pillow rich. But that’s besides the point.)  

In the meantime, Hogg has been ridiculed prodigiously on Twitter dot com by conservative influencers with huge platforms like Ben Shapiro, who would rather hound Hogg over old tweets than account for the Republican Party’s complicity in a cop-killing coup. 

On the one hand...I get it. I mean I really do get it. It’s mockable. I myself couldn’t resist a little joke about the need for a Lithuanian pillow translator. And the kid has put himself out there.

But then I saw this tweet thread from David and the whole thing began reminding me a bit of the Britney stuff, minus the gross sexism.  

Hogg is a 20 year old who is still dealing with trauma. Most 20 year olds are screwing around listening to EDM, taking weed, doing Tik Tok dance offs, and whatever else the youngs are up to these days. Hogg is trying to do right by his murdered classmates and starting a business. There are worse things. 

Adults like me shouldn’t be stepping on these kids' backs just because we can. It’s toxic. The GoodPillow isn’t harming anybody.

So we should all just leave David Hogg alone. And that goes for Barron Trump and the Covington kids too. 

Because when it comes down to it we’re playing with their hearts and we’re not that innocent. (Oops. I did it again.)