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New Hampshire Primary Takeaway: We Are Not a Serious Country

In the words of the unfortunately named Dick Tuck, “The people have spoken—the bastards.”

This is the first time that a Republican non-incumbent has ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire. Barring some unforeseen miracle or major exogenous event, Donald Trump, for the third consecutive time, will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America.

If there was ever a state that Nikki Haley could win, New Hampshire would have been it (and no, avoiding a landslide loss doesn’t count). Assuming her candidacy continues—as she says it will (“New Hampshire is first in the nation, it is not the last in the nation”), it won’t get any easier from here. She gave a defiant concession speech (where has THAT Nikki Haley been hiding?). But I’m no election denier. It’s over.

Let’s stop for a second and appreciate the gravity of this moment. The Jan. 6 Capitol riot occurred three years ago, and the first chance the Republican Party had to rebuke this atrocity in a presidential election resulted in their endorsing it, via nominating the man responsible for inciting said riot.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Trump was also the first president to ever attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power. (And don’t get me started about the indictments, or his being found liable for sexual assault, or all the dictator talk, etc.)

Now, I don’t want to conflate the GOP with the rest of America. But we are talking about one of our two major political parties here. It stands to reason that the kind of people we choose to lead us says something about who we are, too. And what does Trump’s success suggest? We are not a serious country. We love entertainment. We are tribalistic, and we crave an exciting strongman.

But I’ll reserve most of my criticism for the party that just (effectively) renominated Trump as its standard bearer.

I would love to see what might have happened if Ron had a heart and Nikki had courage, but it’s also possible that a ‘Jesus-Reagan, ‘24,’ ticket still would have fallen short of beating Trump within the current GOP electorate.

It’s time to drop the crap about reluctantly making a “binary choice” or Trump being the “lesser of two evils” when compared to Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. Having rejected the options of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, you decided to give us Barabbas. Again.

Republican voters aren’t merely settling for Trump. For many, his chaotic behavior is a feature, not a bug. Perhaps it’s no surprise that, according to CNN exit polls, “about eight in ten of Trump’s voters denied the legitimacy of Biden’s election win in 2020…”

It is telling that the biggest moment of the 2024 GOP primary campaign came, not after Trump did something heroic or said something inspiring, but rather, the moment he was indicted.

What does it say about a political party when being indicted boosts you in the polls?

The Party of Lincoln has metastasized into a decadent and perverse cult of personality that calls evil good and good evil. This metamorphosis is sometimes rationalized by a victimhood complex that sees America as fundamentally evil and her institutions (the justice system, the media, the FBI, the establishment, etc.) as out to get them. In many ways, it’s everything I hated about the Democratic Party of my youth.

Keep in mind that Trump’s primary opponents did not run the aggressive races that they were capable of running. Neither had the guts or the talent to run an assertive and effective campaign that might have wrested control of the GOP from Trump. I would love to see what might have happened if Ron had a heart and Nikki had courage, but it’s also possible that a “Jesus-Reagan, ‘24,” ticket still would have fallen short of beating Trump within the current GOP electorate.

Perhaps, if Joe Biden wasn’t so unpopular and old, Republicans may have been more inclined to elect someone like Haley. These counterfactuals are impossible to prove, and, in any event, they shouldn’t be used to absolve Republican voters of their sins.

Regardless of how Republicans perceive Biden, he may prove to be more formidable than they suspect, in part because—outside the safe confines of the Republican primary electorate—Trump may prove to be weaker than they think.

I’m not saying that Trump cannot win in November; he definitely can. But his (re)election is anything but a foregone conclusion.

For one thing, it’s possible a conviction will come down before election day. Although it might perversely motivate his adoring fans, it will cost him support among some Republicans, not to mention independents and swing voters.

Likewise, because Trump’s entire instinct is honed toward fan service, not persuasion or coalition building, he is likely to leave some votes on the table from people who were once-reliable Republican enthusiasts.

Case in point: While Granite Staters were headed to the polls, I saw two tweets that illustrated this point. The first was a video montage of Haley voters saying they probably wouldn’t vote for Trump again in 2024. The second was an interview with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, in which she said that any “Republican that isn’t willing to adapt [Trump’s] policies, we are completely eradicating from the party.”

I am reminded of the time Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake told supporters of former Sen. John McCain to “get the hell out.” As you might recall, Lake lost. Well, with this presumptive nomination, the Republican Party is effectively saying the same thing to a ton of sane conservative voters.

The party’s over folks. Lock up when you leave. And will the last normie in the Republican Party please turn out the lights?

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