The disappointing results of the 2022 elections have Republicans pondering why there was not a “Red wave” election that many commentators and pundits had expected. The election postmortems include concerns that the reasons for the Republican failures of 2022 will have negative implications for the 2024 election.
Furthermore, former President Donald Trump has roiled the Republican Party with his malicious “friendly fire” attack on Governor Ron Desantis of Florida and other post election comments touting himself by denigrating others (including Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin). Trump’s fulminations have triggered Republican criticisms of his destructive invective, and calls for the Republican Party to move on to a future without Trump as its titular head.
Since Trump’s entry in the 2016 Republican primaries, it has been clear that Trump has no shortage of self-esteem, self-congratulation, and a penchant to indulge in the petty denigration of others. Barring an uncharacteristic change of temperament, Trump is likely to consider himself the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee in 2024, and probably will be fierce and vindictive in his attacks on anyone who challenges him for the nomination. Trump’s notion that he is entitled to the blind loyalty of others without showing any reciprocal loyalty in return poses a serious threat to the Republican Party.
Republicans face the danger that Trump will seriously divide the Republican Party in a quest to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. And, if Trump fails to win the Republican nomination, the more serious danger is that he will repeat the electoral folly of Teddy Roosevelt.
Teddy Roosevelt was dissatisfied with the performance of President William Howard Taft and decided to challenge President Taft for the Republican nomination in 1912. Teddy Roosevelt lost his bid to win the Republican nomination, but did not accept defeat graciously. Instead, he created the Bull Moose Party and ran as its nominee. The result? Teddy Roosevelt split the Republican vote and Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected in 1912.
As bad as the danger of a Republican Party split during the 2024 primaries could be, it would be not as bad as Trump repeating Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 folly and handing the Presidency to the Democrats in 2024.
If that scenario comes to pass, Trump will go down in history as a short-sighted political narcissist who facilitated the victory of the Democrats, who have striven so hard to defeat and destroy him. The Democrats would surely savor the irony of benefitting from the blind ambition of the man they consider to be their mortal enemy.