The End of the Road for Trump

For six long years now Americans have been assailed by non-stop lies from Donald J. Trump, the twice-impeached former president who launched an attempted coup against Congress and relentlessly — albeit falsely — accused the election system of being rigged. But the midterms didn’t turn out to be the “red wave” he predicted. In fact, just like the last presidential election, he lost big again. As the backlash from what Liz Cheney calls “normal Republicans” mounts, it may just mark the end of the road for Trump’s self-centered political ambitions.

To be sure, many of those same “normal” Republicans have been nervous from the start of the election season as Trump inserted himself into campaigns and lauded his hand-picked “MAGA” candidates willing to endorse his Big Lie about the “stolen” 2020 election.

The “normal” Republicans, as it turned out, were looking at the bigger picture. That included concern over how Trump’s extreme right-wing candidates would do in the general election —when the entire populace, not just the MAGA wing of the Republican Party, would be determining the outcome.

They knew the statistics definitely did not put Trump — or his influence — in a good light. And they were right. As exit polls showed, Trump was viewed favorably by just 39% of voters and carried a whopping 58% unfavorable rating. Only 16% of those polled said they cast their vote to show support for Trump.

Of course it’s common practice for the finger-pointing to follow elections and there’s no shortage of fingers pointing at Trump right now for the dismal — and historic — failure of the Republicans to achieve anywhere near the typical results for midterm elections.

Indeed, many Republican strategists and politicians knew that inflation would be a far more winning topic for their campaigns than whining about a fictional loss two years ago and casting baseless aspersions deriding American election integrity.

As it turned out, they were right about that, too. The elections came off as usual with minimal problems — well, other than the predicted failure of many Trump-endorsed candidates who were simply rejected by voters grown tired of their radical and anti-democracy ravings.

Trump of course took no responsibility whatsoever for the losses, telling NewsNation: “I think if they win, I should get all of the credit, and if they lose, I should not be blamed at all.” But that’s not exactly how Pennsylvania’s Republican Senator Pat Toomey saw it after watching both of Trump’s hand-picked candidates in his state, Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano, go down in flames. “There’s a very high correlation between MAGA candidates and big losses,” Toomey said. “I think my party needs to face the fact that if fealty to Donald Trump is the primary criteria for selecting candidates, we’re probably not going to do really well.”

Nor is Toomey the only Republican to now openly question the wisdom of continuing to support Donald Trump as the party’s flag-bearer. Tossing gas on that fire was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ double digit win — which came after Trump attacked him. One thing you can generally count on is that political parties like winners — and following the drubbing Republicans took nationally in 2018, 2020, and now in 2022, Trump is widely being cast as a loser — and his blathering about a 2024 presidential run seems, at best, another fiction.

In the end, no matter if you’re a Democrat, Republican, or neither, it’s a good sign for American democracy to see some semblance of rational thinking returning to the Republican Party as Trump, whether he wants to or not, rides off into his long-overdue political sunset.

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Daily Montanan, where this essay originally appeared.