This is an opinion column.
Running. It’s the perfect word. Perfect, though my usage isn’t likely the same as intended by the guy who spouted it. The guy who told us Tuesday what we already knew: He wants back what he rightfully lost. He wants back what he abused and dishonored. He wants back what he wielded to whip frothing followers into storming the US Capitol. Into storming democracy.
He—that “Florida man,” the New York Post snarked—wants to be president of the United States again.
He’s running all right. Running from the mess he made. The mess he is. The mess he will always be.
He’s running from even a modicum of responsibility for the flogging of his Grand Old Party in the midterms because he blithely believed more Americans are lemmings, that more of us would do his bidding, that we’d flock to the polls and vote for conspiracists and con artists—for fake candidates. Just because he said so.
He’s running all right. Running from the demise of the myriad MAGA deniers he seeded like pixie-less dust hither and yon.
Running from the truth that their losses fall squarely on him. An analysis by The New York Times, utilizing the Cook Political Report’s scoreboard on Congressional primary elections, revealed that MAGA candidates performed five percentage points worse than GOP candidates from what the report called the “traditional wing” of the Republican party. That’s a real number—greater than the margin that decided five of the last six presidential elections, The Times shared.
In the primaries, MAGA-wing candidates in Washington and Michigan who defeated incumbents who had drawn the Florida man’s ire by voting to impeach him did not survive. Neither did MAGA-anointed Senate candidates in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Indeed, Blake Masters and DR. Mehmet Oz lost by—yep—four and five percentage points, respectively.
“With the results in Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania all within the margin of one MAGA penalty,” the Times wrote, “it’s entirely plausible that Mr. Trump’s candidates cost the Republicans control of the Senate.”
He’s running all right. Running from the reality that the party he hijacked (though in its thirst for power the GOP went giddily along with his fear-fueled foolishness) may now prefer to be led towards 2024 by another Florida man (one only a slightly more digestible, though equally unempathetic). Or maybe even by Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who said he’s “very seriously” considering a presidential run.
“I’m encouraged that a governor who’s actually solved problems, who has a conservative common-sense approach, [I] can draw support and can be a good alternative,” he shared.
A good alternative to the Florida man who’s running all right. Running from Jack Smith—the man US Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned as special counsel to investigate the Florida man’s hoarding of national security-sensitive documents at his home and any actions that may have sparked the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
He’s running from the looming potential avalanche of criminal charges that may rain down upon him like arrows in the “300″ because of all he did to hold onto what he rightfully lost.
He can run all right, but he can’t hide. And he can’t win. Not anymore.
Not when America emphatically said it’s weary of wacky. Tired of tyrannical treats. Finished with fear-mongering attacks. On women. On immigrants. On people who simply want to live their lives the way they see themselves. On young people struggling not to be crushed by student-loan debt.
Not when America showed it wants solutions not spit wads alleging all thing wrong with them without nary a plan or proposal to do right, to do better, to elevate us—all Americans. Not just those with the secret code to your cold, dark cave.
Not when America is demanding reason rather than rock.
Donald Trump is running all right—as America, and the GOP, run from him.
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Roy S. Johnson is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary and winner of 2021 Edward R. Murrow prize for podcasts: “Unjustifiable”, co-hosted with John Archibald. His column appears in The Birmingham News and AL.com, as well as the Huntsville Times, and Mobile Press-Register. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org him at twitter.com/roysjor on Instagram @roysj🇧🇷