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The GOP 2020 conundrum

My, my, my. What a mess.   Tommy Lee Jones   The Fugitive

Things like this pop up in politics occasionally, although not all that often. Shit happens, or as a coworker of mine at United used to say “Ka-ka occurs.” Although, like so many things Trumpain, this one is kind of a hybrid. I mean, it looks like all of the other chicks, but there;s just something off about the “cheep.”

In 1976, Gerald Ford was an incumbent President, but not really. Ford was President only because President Sneaky took a powder one step ahead of the process servers. Ford was so unpopular in 1976 that he almost lost the GOP nomination to that brash upstart Ronald Reagan. In 2000, Bill Clinton was actually still pretty damn popular, but that ungrateful Al Gore asked the guy who put him there to go and get that blue dress from the ry cleaners, and stay away from him on the campaign trail. And it actually happened twice to President George W Bush. In the 2006 midterms, gop congressional candidates ran like they were in the minority party, leaving Bush to sit in the White house, wishing he had never stopped drinking in the first place. And in 2008, the GOP almost kidnapped the pilot in order to keep Bush from getting Air Force One off of the ground to go out and campaign for “the boys.”

So it happens occasionally, that a party finds itself stuck with an Edsel in the White House, and has to find a way to campaign around him. In a Presidential election it is not normally a major issue, since most Presidents serve two terms, the waning popularity of the sitting President is offset by the fact that his name is not appearing on the ballot, and the other candidates kind of work around him. And in the occasional midterms, it usually only happens in a President’s 2nd midterm, when the “new car smell” has left the current denizen of 1600 Pennsylvania avenue, and the party can start to create that most precious political commodity, separation.

But not this time. Not in 2020. because this time, in 2020, Donald John Trump is the President. The original, accept-no-substitutes, asteroid-is-hurtling-towards-the-earth-disaster-movie candidate. And as a famous boxer once said to an opponent, “There’s nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.”

Usually politicians have a very finely honed sense of self preservation. Oh, hey certainly form alliances and relationships with other politicians of the same party, but it’s usually more of a handshake-at-the-Kiwanis-club-meeting kind of relationship, an rams length distance, since you never know when the other guy could say or do something that could blow back on you. But in 2016, the GOP as a party lost their collective shit. Instead of the usual 2” between shoulders embrace, the GOP were like teenage girls at a “British Invasion” Beatles concert, piss streaming down their legs while they screamed until they fainted and had to be carried off of the floor. And now, because the tickets were so expensive, they can’t afford to buy new socks and a new pair of Keds, and all of the kids at school know what they did last night.

Because unless he’s indicted, or already summarily impeached in 2019, Donald Trump’s name is going to be at the top of the GOP ticket in 2020. And while GOP candidates can desperately pull off their MAGA hats and stuff them under the mattress, they’re still going to have that dent in their hair from where it’s been sitting the last two years. He’s like the character Quint in the movie Blade, “You can slice him, you can dice him, but the Quint man just keeps on comin’!” 

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We’ve already seen the trailer for this upcoming disaster flick. In 2018 Trump’s name wasn’t even on the ballot, but if he had had his way, the ballots would have had it there anyway. “My name isn’t even on the ballot in 2018, but in a way it is.” It sure was, and oh!, how the GOP wishes it wasn’t. Trump made multiple trips to Montana to finish off Jon Tester, and Tester poked him in the eye. He went to West Virginia to polish off Joe Manchin, and Manchin laughed him out of the state. He put the kiss-of-death on Martha McSally in Arizona, and he made damn sure that dean Heller in Nevada is now comfortably sitting on the sofa in his shorts, drinking beer, and looking like Steve Bannon.

And just think. In 2018, those were voluntary guest appearances, where Trump showed up just to “help out.” There were many other Senate and congressional GOP candidates that were spared the indignity of either having to appear on stage with the kid with the cooties, or stay home because “their kid had the flu.” In 2020, Trump isn’t going to be showing up running for them, he’s going to be showing up everywhere, running for himself. And those appearances are going to kill them.

Because the Democrats discovered the “secret sauce” in 2018. Democratic candidates almost never mentioned Trump directly by name. They let party affiliation do that for them. “Trump is in the GOP, and my opponent is in the GOP, therefore, Trump and my opponent are one and the same.” And it worked. Kansas elected a lesbian mixed martial arts fighter to the House, Texas shed long time incumbents, Orange County is now a GOP free zone, and Kansas, Wisconsin, and Michigan all elected Democratic Governors.

There is a really good reason why there are no friends in politics, only colleagues. Because the political winds shift quickly, and yesterdays fad may be todays flop. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The GOP under Trump is a cult. In normal politics, a politician can survive an unpopular president because the party is ore important than the man. In todays GOP, the party is the man. In todays GOP, there is the Republican party, and there is the Trump Republican party, and apparently, never the twain shall meet.

Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange make perfect e-stocking stuffer gifts for people you really aren't all that interested in impressing. And what better time to get reacquainted with the roller coaster that was the 2016 election cycle than before the release of the final volume of the trilogy, President Evil III, All the Presidents Fen.

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