Trump 2.0, Is this a sure comeback?
In spite of facing three indictments, his popularity remains unshaken, positioning him ahead of his Republican rivals just before the inaugural presidential primary debate this week. This occurrence amplifies the significance of yet another crucial election for both America and the world
His primarily white conservative backers are motivated by profound anger, suspicion, and resentment toward the Democrats, along with their socially liberal and internationally liberal stances. Trump’s political missteps and legal troubles seem to have little effect on them. In fact, they interpret his indictments, including allegations of attempting to defraud the US government to retain office after losing the 2020 election, as part of a conspiracy engineered by the Democrat-controlled deep state.
Barring any major surprises, Trump seems destined to secure the Republican nomination by the middle of the upcoming year, setting the stage for a face-off against President Joe Biden at the year’s conclusion.
The election appears to be the incumbent’s to lose. In addition to maintaining a lead in the national popular vote, he holds a stronger position in the battleground states he carried in 2020, such as Georgia and Arizona. There’s also the potential to overturn states he lost, such as North Carolina.
However, numerous factors could put Biden at a disadvantage, including concerns about his advanced age. In recent months, doubts regarding his fitness for office have surfaced repeatedly.
The looming prospect of Trump’s return to the White House, wielding the powers of a global superpower, is a palpable reality causing significant anxiety and agitation. This sentiment is particularly pronounced among liberals not only in the US but also across Europe and beyond. The fear is that an embittered and vengeful Trump, still in denial over his previous electoral defeat, might take drastic actions with the immense authority of the American presidency.
It appears that Trump is observing the political maneuvers of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has sought to enhance his authority through “judicial reforms” since regaining leadership. There are reports indicating that the former president plans to consolidate his power upon re-assuming office. This could involve reducing the autonomy of federal agencies, employing domestic military forces, and cracking down on his critics.
Trump seems poised to steer the United States away from its liberal trajectory toward a more autocratic approach, mirroring Netanyahu’s actions in Israel. The robust system of checks and balances in the American constitutional democracy might face a severe challenge from Trump and his alliances with white nationalists and evangelical conservatives. Notably, the US Supreme Court, featuring a majority of conservative justices, could offer a sympathetic ear, given that Trump appointed three of them.
Just as he systematically rolled back many of the global achievements of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, Trump’s return could entail dismantling the progress made by Biden in various policy domains, including climate change, trade, nuclear proliferation, relations with Russia, Europe, and the Middle East.
During a potential second Trump term, the likelihood of striking a new nuclear agreement with Iran or reaching urgent accords on climate change would diminish. Expectations of substantial reductions in public spending for social protections and renewable energy expansion would also rise.
As president, Trump would likely take swift action regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, claiming he could resolve it within “24 hours.” Speculation suggests this could involve cutting US military aid to Ukraine to hasten a resolution favoring Russia.
This potential scenario has unsettled Europe’s allies in Washington, who have strongly supported US efforts against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They fear that appeasing Russia might weaken NATO, embolden Russian President Vladimir Putin, and compel them to explore alternative strategic solutions independently of the US.
Moreover, European centrists and liberals worry that a Trump victory in 2024 could catalyze a cascade effect throughout the Western world. This could bolster populist right-wing leaders in countries like Hungary, Poland, and Italy, while also emboldening far-right factions in elections across France and Germany.
Should these events unfold, America’s foreign policy agenda would inevitably weaken, particularly in its approach to countering the rise of China—a key foreign policy concern shared by both Trump and Biden. An empowered Russia, a frayed NATO, and a divided Western alliance would hinder Trump’s ambitious attempts to curb China’s economic and strategic influence.
Surprisingly, Beijing might not object to Trump’s return to power. This is due not only to his divisive style as an illiberal populist leader willing to discard US global responsibilities in favor of assertive rhetoric, but also because he would be less inclined or capable of utilizing democratic pretexts to promote American interests over other autocratic nations.
While Trump has threatened stringent measures like imposing a 48-hour ultimatum on China to abandon its alleged “spy base” in Cuba, such brashness has proven ineffective in the past. This includes dealing with China’s increased military and strategic strength during his presidency, as well as addressing nuclear programs in smaller nations like North Korea and Iran. Trump’s aggressive rhetoric has even failed to sway regimes like Bashar al-Assad’s in Syria.
Biden’s foreign policy approach, while not without its shortcomings, is viewed as imperialist, interventionist, and at times hypocritical. Nonetheless, the alternatives presented by Trump appear even less favorable than Biden’s globalist inclinations. These alternatives encompass a reckless emphasis on America-first hypernationalism, overt racism, disregard for environmental and climate concerns, disdain for multilateralism and shared values, and an overall bleak worldview.
A world shaped by Trump’s principles is one that rational individuals would be reluctant to embrace.