Dare to traverse the shadowy corridors of Trump's endorsements. Challenge MAGA to shape a new political dawn.
Ross Perot's words, "If we really want to know who is responsible for the mess we're in, all we have to do is look in the mirror. You and I own this country, and we are responsible for what happens to it," echo hauntingly through the annals of overlooked political endorsements. They strike a particularly poignant note in the case of Donald Trump, whose puzzling endorsement decisions continue to cast a spectral shadow. The ghost of his January 2023 endorsement of Kevin McCarthy is a particularly disconcerting presence.
The decision to endorse McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, has ignited both curiosity and skepticism about Trump's judgment. McCarthy, often seen as part of the political "swamp," seems an unlikely choice for Trump, a figure who has consistently portrayed himself as an outsider and a disruptor. This endorsement contradicts the very core of Trump's political persona. It underscores a critical point: the need for accountability within the populist movement. As one of the most influential political movements in recent history, those who advocate for power distribution to the masses have a responsibility to scrutinize their leaders, including Trump. This includes questioning decisions like Trump's endorsement of McCarthy.
McCarthy's actions and affiliations further complicate the situation. During an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, McCarthy was asked whether Trump could win an election against Biden. His response was ambiguous at best, "Can he win that election? Yeah, he can. The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know that answer. But can somebody, can anybody, beat Biden? Yeah, anybody can beat Biden. Can Biden beat other people? Yes, Biden can beat ’em." This lack of reciprocation to Trump's endorsement is not the standard political exchange. If Trump is going to diverge from the populist right and endorse someone like McCarthy, the least he should expect in return is mutual support.
Moreover, McCarthy's affiliations raise additional concerns. He is closely tied to the Congressional Leadership Fund and Club for Growth, both of which are known for their anti-Trump sentiments. The Congressional Leadership Fund even accepted a donation from FTX, a company embroiled in a Ponzi scheme and openly anti-populist right. Furthermore, McCarthy stood by while others blamed Trump for the disappointing populist right midterm election of 2022, despite his own role in funding the disappointment. Conveniently this helped him avoid having more House members who would challenge him.
Trump's endorsement of McCarthy, and more importantly, his silence as this unfolds, is a decision that should be disqualifying. The greatest grassroots organic political movement of our lifetime must hold its leaders accountable, even if it means putting Trump under scrutiny for his endorsement decisions.
Donald Trump's endorsement history unfolds like a procession of questionable choices, each one casting an increasingly eerie aura over his political discernment.
Consider his endorsement of Dr. Oz, a figure more accustomed to the glitz of daytime television than the gritty realities of politics. Despite his pro-Black Lives Matter and pro-LGBTQ identity stances, which starkly contrast with the populist right, Trump extended his seal of approval. One can't help but question whether Trump was swayed more by Dr. Oz's star power than his political aptitude.
Then there's the enigmatic figure of Ronna McDaniel, Mitt Romney's niece, who has proven less than effective in her role. She received Trump's endorsement for the role of RNC Chair and has turned out to be a female political clone of her uncle, with what seems to be a surgically enhanced appearance. Her face might be a microcosm of the failure of the Republican party. There's a lot of money being put into it with very little positive results. As the Washington Examiner succinctly put it, "What has Ronna McDaniel done for the GOP other than lose?"
And who could overlook the time when Trump appointed Christopher Wray as head of the FBI? In March 2023, Trump was still hedging his bets on whether that was a wise decision, stating, "I put Chris Wray in because I wanted to have somebody in there that everybody, including the other side, really wanted. It may not have been the right move. Let’s see. Time will tell, okay?" The specter of the Durham Report, which revealed how the FBI was weaponized under his leadership or lack thereof to hurt Trump, adds a chilling dimension to this endorsement.
The populist right must be prepared to challenge Donald Trump. This is a primary where many are asserting that Trump has no chance of losing. He's leading the pack. 2016-2020 and 2022 all taught us that election polling is not reliable but Trump himself has stated he doesn't want to debate because he's so far ahead. If the populist right can't challenge him now, then when will they? When is the right time?
This is not to suggest that one should not cast their vote for Donald Trump. It's important to recognize that there are many other options. It's not a binary choice. There are a multitude of choices, keep an eye out for the Libertarian Party nominee, but the key point here isn't to turn your back on voting for Donald Trump. The takeaway certainly isn't about voting for Ron DeSantis, who remained silent when Donald Trump was arrested in his state.
The crux of the matter is understanding what the populist right stands for.
If the populist right does not challenge Donald Trump, then it risks becoming a coping mechanism, a joke of a movement rather than a force of change. Like the Tea Party movement of the past, it could fade into the political ether, its influence waning, its voice becoming a distant echo. The populist right must ensure that it does not become another ghost in the political graveyard, a fleeting memory of a movement that once was.
Instead, it must rise to the challenge, question its leaders, and hold them accountable. It must ensure that it is a force that shapes the dawn of a new political era. Only then can it avoid becoming the cult that the lockdown left wants it to be. And solidify its place as a lasting political movement.