American voters hate riding into political storms. They abhor wading through political slush. Once hurt, they are shy for ever. Keen to avoid being hapless witnesses to dirty serial slugfests, they appear determined to pick a centrist as their president in 2024. Former president Donald Trump is a strict no-no. But, the self-important narcissistic Trump wants to run for presidency again. Neutral political observers feel a Trump-slayer alone can shape the American destiny tomorrow.

Is the Trump-slayer a Democrat? Or, is the Trump-vanquisher a fair-and-square Republican? The debate has sprung to life with Trump and the incumbent president Joe Biden declaring their desire to run for presidency again. But, the pulse of American voters appears to be beating for a president who is neither Trump nor Biden. America’s prospective political saviour may be a Republican or a Democrat, but not Trump or Biden. There is considerable discontent simmering beneath over the two contenders.

Non-Jeffersonian Reasons

Consider Trump first. Republicans will not say openly they detest Trump’s megalomania and its negative influence on American politics. However, sane Republicans, growing in number, appear determined not to allow toxic narcissism to define the boundaries of American politics. These Republicans know well why Trump wants to run for presidency again for the third consecutive time. They are sure Trump is desperate to seize presidency again, for reasons other than Jeffersonian.

The non-Jeffersonian reasons are many. Trump is embroiled in a farrago of damning litigations, which are cases against him spanning a wide spectrum of civil and criminal offences – from election-tampering in Georgia to a case of fraud targeting his business to a defamation lawsuit involving a sexual assault allegation to post-presidential smuggling out of classified materials from the White House to instigating the infamous Capitol Hill insurrection on 6 January 2021.

MAGA-Flag-Waving Admirers

Trump’s decision to run again is nothing more than a desperate bid to launder his own personal and political records, before re-launching himself as the real American MAGA nationalist. As his hold over the Republican Party is loosening, Trump is doubly desperate to run again for the fourth time for American presidency to prove, redeem and re-establish himself. Will America empathise with Trump and his desperation? Will Americans fall for the sensation-whipping and self-serving orations of Trump?

America knows well Trump has been plotting, in cahoots with his misguided motley MAGA-flag-waving admirers, to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He has been conspiring since he failed in his January 2021 insurrection bid. No-nonsense Americans, most of them today are, do not want a revengeful man as their president. Nor do they want to hear overused inanities of America failing and being taken over by imaginary ‘election-stealers’. A narcissist who projects himself as the lone individual capable of fixing problems is a strict no-no today for American voters. 

Obsessive Micro-Management

Yet, Trump is impatient to leap into the presidential poll fray. He feels staying away from the presidential race will render him less immune to indictments by the court. Plus, the thoughts of being consigned to the corner dustbins of history and rendered politically irrelevant are poking him to run again. But, personal sentiments cannot back a decision to run again for presidency. Trump needs solid backers and solemn supporters, both within his party and among apolitical Americans. Sad, Trump has lost them years ago.

Results of midterms prove this theory right. Many endorsed by Trump lost, despite Trump’s obsessive micro-management of the primaries. Trump managed to foist candidates who took great delight in parroting his stolen-election shibboleth. Yet, Trump could not win the Senate and ended up with a slim lead in the House. As is his wont, Trump hogged the entire credit for the House lead, while blaming the Senate loss on Republicans he reviled. This self-centric attitude is bruising the self-respect of many fair-minded Republicans.

New Challenges Emerging Within

The stark reality is staring at American voters. Trump is a serial loser. He was behind his Republican Party’s loss of the House in the 2018 midterm. After this came his defeat in the 2020 presidential election, followed by the loss of the senate in the 2021 Georgia run-off. At the end of it, Republicans are quite convinced they have had enough of Trump and his trail of face-losing failures. Queering the pitch further, new challenges are emerging for Trump within his own Republican Party.

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, name-called as Ron DeSanctimonious, is Trump’s potential primary rival. DeSantis is seen by Republicans as the new propeller and a rising star in the party. Fresh from his impressive reelection victory, DeSantis has been able to strike instant rapport with his party and its core supporters. The trickle of Republicans pining for DeSantis is threatening to turn into a tide. The New York Times Magazine was impressed enough to ask whether DeSantis was the future of the Republican Party.

DeSantis apart, there is Glenn Youngkin, the governor of Virginia, who is reviled by Trump for his Chinese-sounding name. He is another challenger to Trump. Youngkin is a moderate Republican with a decent fan following among Americans. The third challenger is Mike Pence, Trump’s popular former vice-president. As Pence refused to stain his fingers with Trump’s post-poll corruption, he too stands a chance to replace the law-breaking Trump. Pence is a consummate strategist, adept at political manoeuvring and a dyed-in-the-wool anti-Trumpist.  The fourth is Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State, who is eyeing opportunities to displace Trump in the party.

Love for Fanatical Sycophants

As if these Trojan-horse challengers are not enough, Trump’s popularity ratings too are heading south. Trump is trailing Ron DeSantis by double-digits among Republican voters in many states. DeSantis has a lead of over 20 points in Florida and Georgia, the two major swing states. Exit polls too indicate the plummeting popularity of Trump. In New Hampshire and Florida, less than one-third of the exiting voters favoured Trump as president.

Unflustered, Trump is raring to run again, come what may. With 2024 not far away, perhaps Trump feels the presidential grapes are within his reach. However, Trump’s tragedy is he is ignoring the nettle and the thorns around. Is he germinating the seeds of his own defeat in his blind spots? Trump’s love for fanatical sycophants, for example, is one reason why he never enjoys a huge backing by the informed majority. Americans in general, including many Republicans, do not want a redux of Trump’s presidency. They tremble at the thought of having Trump back in the White House. If right sense prevails, Trump should forget running for presidency again.

A Sign of Mulish Obstinacy

The story is not much different for Biden. His declared desire to run again is a hare-brained idea. There were no cheers in the Democratic Party over Biden’s expression of intent. By any standard, Biden is not an ideal presidential candidate. He does not rank high on many parameters. Biden is old. He is 79 and will be 80 on 20 November 2022. His approval ratings are nothing great to make his presidential rerun a compelling necessity for the Democrats. Plus, there are anti-Biden forces sprouting within the Democratic Party. These are Biden’s biggest threats.

Notable within the anti-Biden caucus are California governor Gavin Newsom, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and Colarado governor Jared Polis. This gubernatorial trio is rooting for anti-Bidenites within the Democratic Party. American presidential poll history proves if a candidate gets hobbled in the primaries itself, the onward journey will not be easy and smooth. An undercautious Biden is ignoring this evidence. Despite being in his eighties, Biden is nonchalant. His decision to rerun is a sign of mulish obstinacy. The Democrats should find Biden’s alternative soon.

Pitching for an Electoral Position

If the anti-Biden trio manages to forge ahead of Biden, it may inspire the likes of vice-president Kamala Harris. She is sure to attempt capitalising on her being a non-white woman vice-president and rally the disgruntled Democrats behind her. In the melee, which is sure to follow, transport secretary Pete Buttigieg and centrists like the commerce secretary Gina Raimondo will try to fish in. Sure, Buttigieg and Raimondo will come in as breaths of fresh air the Democratic Party is thirsting for. The welcome breeze may throw the Democrats into rounds of fresh debates on how to counter the fake-news-spreading Republican machine.

Countering the Republican Party is a different ballgame. Trump’s new worry is how to stop his Republican supporters from getting tempted with offers and opportunities to sacrifice him. Trump sees Pence among them. Pence, the author of So Help Me God, which is part memoir and part soft launch of a 2024 poll campaign, is pitching for an electoral position. In his memoir, Pence has been critical of Trump. Yet, he may not declare his candidacy now. DeSantis may prefer to wait for the Florida legislative session to end. Paradoxical, while key Republicans opt to wait for the opportune time, an impatient Trump is raring to go, despite the hurdles ahead.

In Conclusion

Trump said while announcing his desire to rerun: “The journey ahead of us will not be easy.” In fact, it may be impossible. “To make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump went on and on before a swooning crowd of Republican loonies, assembled at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s opulent waterfront estate, which is doubling up as his campaign headquarters in Florida. Many sensible Americans hope they didn’t hear him. America wants neither Trump, the hate-spewing machine, nor Biden, the average Joe. America requires neither a Republican nor a Democrat. The planet’s oldest democracy needs in the White House a young centrist statesman, who alone can make America great again.