by Victor Davis Hanson
The Left may not wish to admit it, but the fortunes of a once moribund Donald Trump of January 2021 have now largely recovered—even before the stunning gubernatorial victory of Republican Glenn Youngkin in Virginia.
How and why?
One, Joe Biden did not, as dishonestly advertised, prove to be good Ol’ “Lunch bucket” Joe. He was no moderate from Scranton. Instead, Biden has served as the clueless gun barrel through which hard-core leftists fired off the most unpopular agenda in memory.
Open borders, huge deficits, the Afghanistan catastrophe, looming stagflation, empty shelves, bottlenecked ports, soaring energy prices, toxic critical race theory, the disastrous previews of the Green New Deal, a weaponized federal government, and the addled decline of Biden himself have done more than just collapse support for the president and his policies.
More importantly, Biden’s string of catastrophes endangers the very stuff of life, from the ability to afford gas to finding goods on the shelves.
Two, for 10 months, Donald Trump has been stripped of all his social network outlets. The progressive Silicon monopolies thought they had silenced the once omnipresent Trump.
But their muzzles had unintended consequences. The less Trump was on social media, the more the public remembered his good policies rather than his controversial tweets.
Three, Donald Trump was as responsible or not responsible for COVID-19 deaths as is Joe Biden. On Biden’s watch, more have died each day on average from the disease than during Trump’s tenure from the start of the pandemic.
Contrary to Biden’s ungracious boasts, Trump is to be credited with the successful vaccination rollout. And the Florida model of Governor Ron DeSantis, not the New York and California model of ongoing near-complete lockdowns, did far less economic and social damage with no more—and in some cases fewer deaths per capita.
Four, Trump’s low point—the January 6 Capitol rampage—was not, as the Left propagandized, a preplanned conspiratorial “armed insurrection,” and the evidence against that narrative is now becoming apparent.
The FBI found no conspiracy at the heart of the violent entry into the Capitol.
No one inside the Capitol itself was arrested for the use or possession of a firearm. Officer Sicknick tragically died of natural causes a day after the riot, not at the hands of Trump supporters as was claimed.
The initial headlines of five dead due to the “insurrection” were completely false. Four died of either natural or accidental causes. The fifth, the diminutive, unarmed military veteran Ashli Babbitt, died due to the questionable decision of an officer to shoot an unarmed suspect.
Five, Trump’s supposed rantings often proved prescient rather than mad. Radical iconoclasts really did move on to attacking the monuments and statues of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Washington.
The Russian collusion hoax really was a massive fraud. The only collusion was between the media, Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and the FBI to destroy a Republican presidential campaign.
Joe Biden’s family really was engaged in a grifting enterprise that used Biden’s office to leverage quid pro quo money from foreign governments.
Hunter Biden’s laptop was really his own—and not a product of “Russian disinformation.”
As a result, a resurgent Trump is considering another presidential run. Most Republicans want him to run. They welcome a return of his successful pre-pandemic policies and a leader who does not fear the unhinged Left. They believe Joe Biden reversed the Trump agenda and brought misery. Trump promises to restore it and bring back prosperity.
But Youngkin showed that he could push Trump’s populist agenda, keep the MAGA base, and yet also win back independents—mainly as a Trump-like candidate, but one who gets even with, rather than mad at, the Left.
So, at the crossroad of the Republican pathway back to power, there are plenty of known unknowns.
Would possible presidential candidates like Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis, former Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, or former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo advance the MAGA agenda, but without the fireworks and distractions?
Or would they prove similar to a once impressive Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker—who nonetheless fizzled on the 2016 campaign stage?
Or would a battle-scarred and wizened veteran Trump now outsmart rather than merely outrage his enemies by picking his targets more carefully?
Can Trump, like Youngkin, win back suburbanites and independents to achieve a 51 percent majority—something no Republican presidential candidate has achieved in 33 years?
Or could his less carnivorous rivals of the status quo be able to keep the Trump base from sitting out the election as they did in 2008 and 2016?
Would Trump ever be content with becoming the senior statesman basking in the credit of rebooting the Republican Party from a stereotyped wealthy white corporate party into a populist-nationalist movement of the middle class of all races and ethnicities?
Or will Trump redo 2016, bulldoze to the nomination, go for the jugular of the now hard-left Democratic Party, clobbering his way to a 2016-like Electoral College victory—or a defeat that others who copied his agendas might have avoided?
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Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the newly released The Dying Citizen.
Photo “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.