Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaks at a rally in New Hampshire (Photo: Liam Enea, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Pres­i­dent Biden’s pre­de­ces­sor Don­ald Trump is com­ing unwrapped just as America’s pun­dit­ry is telling us he has wrapped up the Repub­li­can nomination.

Infu­ri­at­ed at Nik­ki Haley’s deter­mi­na­tion to stay in the race, The Don­ald declared: “I don’t get too angry. I get even.”

He ridiculed Haley, ask­ing: “Who the hell was the imposter that went up on the stage before and claimed a vic­to­ry? She did very poor­ly, actu­al­ly. She had to win.”

Quite a dif­fer­ence it was from cau­cus night in Iowa, when Trump sang Kum­baya with gen­er­ous words for his rivals and warm trib­utes for his fam­i­ly and sup­port­ing cast. The man’s mean streak, when not get­ting his way, is a mile wide.

The media spin on New Hamp­shire was fas­ci­nat­ing, and revealing.

The first batch of head­lines had Trump cinch­ing the nom­i­na­tion. The day after, how­ev­er, brought a trolling of rev­e­la­tions from Gran­ite State returns.

The vote Tues­day showed cult-like Trump sup­port from the hard right and evan­gel­i­cals. But there is a ceil­ing to his sup­port, and no par­tic­u­lar wish to add on new floors. Trump has flayed tra­di­tion­al con­ser­v­a­tives in his own par­ty and even resumed demean­ing deceased war hero Sen­a­tor John McCain.

Col­lege-edu­cat­ed vot­ers broke for Nik­ki Haley. So did inde­pen­dent and non-affil­i­at­ed vot­ers. The lat­ter were able to cast bal­lots under New Hamp­shire elec­tion rules. Turnout was heavy beyond the Repub­li­can base.

Exit polls did hold appalling find­ings. The Repub­li­can base believes the big lie, that Joe Biden didn’t legit­i­mate­ly win the 2020 elec­tion, and feel a con­vict­ed felon can still serve as pres­i­dent. But a sub­stan­tial num­ber of vot­ers — the inde­pen­dents — will take their votes else­where in the event of a conviction.

As well, after months of pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with Pres­i­dent Biden’s age, the press is at last land­ing on Trump’s cog­ni­tive decline.

New Hamp­shire saw him mix up Nik­ki Haley with Nan­cy Pelosi, false­ly claim­ing Haley was in charge at the U.S. Capi­tol dur­ing the Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021 insur­rec­tion at the U.S. Capi­tol. He has accused Biden of try­ing to start World War II.

The Biden-Har­ris cam­paign has feast­ed on anoth­er gar­bled rant from Trump, in which he non­sen­si­cal­ly said: “We are an insti­tute in a pow­er­ful death penalty.”

All this is good news for the 46th Pres­i­dent. The Trump base is cen­tered on blue-col­lar, white non-col­lege edu­cat­ed vot­ers, a shrink­ing chunk of the elec­torate. There’s a coali­tion out there for Biden to assem­ble, or rather reassemble.

He has work to do, notably get­ting mil­len­ni­als and Gen­er­a­tion Z to vote.

Younger vot­ers were absolute­ly essen­tial to Demo­c­ra­t­ic vic­to­ries in the 2022 midterm elec­tions, and to the 2020 Biden victory.

The mass media is final­ly awak­en­ing to a Goldilocks econ­o­my, not too hot and not too cold. Infla­tion is com­ing down, inter­est rates are begin­ning to dip. Infra­struc­ture spend­ing is pump­ing dol­lars into valu­able projects, such as Colum­bia Riv­er bridges and air­ports in dis­tricts of our state’s two Repub­li­can Unit­ed States House mem­bers — Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse.

All this and the stock mar­ket has late­ly hit record highs. The admin­is­tra­tion needs to sell its achieve­ments, learn­ing from Obama’s fail­ure to do so. Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell is wise­ly high­light­ing achieve­ments in which she played a role.

Joe Biden will remain an old-fash­ioned can­di­date — but also one who is able to play a game of patience. Such is need­ed to fash­ion society’s compromises.

The Trump regime staged mean­ing­less “infra­struc­ture weeks”. Biden made an infra­struc­ture invest­ment renais­sance hap­pen, and even brought Mitch McConnell along with him. Mitch need­ed work on a key Ohio Riv­er bridge.

Still, approval rat­ings for Biden tanked after the chaot­ic end of the Afghanistan inva­sion and have nev­er real­ly recov­ered. He is demo­nized by right wing media.

The Israel-Hamas war has stirred emo­tions, with lit­tle appre­ci­a­tion for qui­et back­stage work to curb hos­til­i­ties. Twice this week, pro-Pales­tin­ian pro­test­ers have dis­rupt­ed Pres­i­dent Biden’s speech­es. Israel’s prime min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu vehe­ment­ly and vocal­ly resists a two-state solution.

All this points to a close elec­tion, peri­ods of frus­tra­tion for pro­gres­sives, plus end­less sec­ond guess­ing. But would-be dic­ta­tor is run­ning on a plat­form of revenge and turn­ing off key seg­ments of the electorate.

The 2024 elec­tion is under­scor­ing founder Ben­jamin Franklin’s famous answer to the woman who asked what kind of gov­ern­ment Amer­i­ca would have — “a repub­lic, if you can keep it.” Let us be its keepers.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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