Trump Is Still the One. The Only One. Now More Than Ever | Opinion

In American politics, there's Donald Trump—and then there's everyone else.

No other figure, including the sitting President, comes close to Trump's outsized political influence. This is doubly true in the Republican Party, which Trump has single-handedly redefined with his America First populism. Since 2016, Trump has dominated the party like a colossus, despite endless uni-party attempts to stop him. The fact that he's still standing has bestowed a certain sense of invincibility upon him, which will be nearly impossible for any Republican challenger to overcome.

The GOP primary battle has now been joined by Governor Ron DeSantis, who followed Senator Tim Scott, former Governor Nikki Haley, and star investor Vivek Ramaswamy. All are highly accomplished, talented leaders. But there is a big difference between being a successful governor, legislator, or entrepreneur, and running for President. And it's something else entirely to run for President against Donald Trump. In the political ring, he is unlike any other combatant, as the graveyard of his previous GOP opponents attests.

To try to beat him, the current candidates will argue two main points: First, they will argue that unlike Trump, they could win a general election. Second, they will claim that if elected, they could advance his America First policies without being weighed down by his distracting baggage.

But neither of those claims holds water. When it comes to electability, a big portion of Republican voters believe there were significant enough shenanigans in the 2020 election to render its outcome problematic at best; we now know for example that former acting CIA Director Mike Morell was prompted by then-candidate Joe Biden's presidential campaign to rally 50 colleagues to sign a letter they knew was false alleging that Hunter Biden's actual laptop was Russian disinformation. In light of this and other emerging facts about how Trump was targeted, many voters are gratified to see him leading everyone in current polls—including Biden, in some cases by significant margins.

As for the general election, Biden's job approval is at all-time lows, as growing numbers of Democrats and Independents reject his catastrophic presidency. His re-election is far from certain, and if Biden ends up stepping aside, the GOP is going to need a bona fide warrior to take on whomever the Democrats ultimately nominate.

It's Trump and only Trump
Former U.S. President Donald Trump Robert Perry/Getty Images

As for the claim that there can be "Trumpism Without Trump," many GOP politicians talk an America First game, but only Trump brings the kind of disruptive energy needed to smash the corrupt status quo and get us back on track.

He does, after all, have a proven track record. As president, Trump delivered an economic boom through pro-growth policies like tax cuts, regulatory relief, energy independence, and fairer trade deals with China, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea. The result was robust economic growth, 7 million new jobs, a dramatic increase in middle class family income, a return of 500,000 manufacturing jobs, and unemployment rates at or near-historic lows for every demographic group.

When the pandemic hit, Trump mobilized a whole-of-government effort to get Americans through it, and then presided over the fastest economic recovery from any crisis ever.

He secured the southern border and largely solved the illegal immigration problem; appointed three Supreme Court justices and an historic number of judges to the federal bench; expanded school choice; combatted the opioid epidemic; and enforced law and order.

He restored American leadership abroad by confronting China, achieving unprecedented peace deals in the Middle East, smashing terrorist organizations, getting NATO allies to pay their fair share, withdrawing from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. He also supported Israel, exited the sovereignty-destroying World Health Organization, and rebuilt our military.

Incredibly, Trump accomplished all of it while fending off a fusillade of phony investigations and relentless attacks by a fierce Democratic opposition, shadowy unaccountable actors, subversives in his own administration and party, and an eternally hostile press.

He was a political Ginger Rogers: He did it all while dancing backwards and in heels.

Trump also has a huge advantage over the others: his organic emotional bond with voters. He spoke directly to the forgotten men and women who had their families, jobs, and communities shattered by America Last globalism and were outraged that they had become second-class citizens in their own country, yet ignored by contemptuous elites in both parties. Trump promised to put them first. And instead of letting them down once elected, he actually delivered on those promises. He did not forget them—and they will not forget him.

This is not to say that Trump doesn't have vulnerabilities, as every leader does: His take-no-prisoners, bull-in-a-china-shop style and conduct and his endless legal challenges have turned off some voters. But the country is hanging by a thread because President Biden reversed much of what Trump accomplished. So the next president has to restore everything Trump did and face all of America's new challenges. Trump has learned a great deal over the past eight years, and those lessons will prove to be his most critical asset.

What we need is not a more polite rhetorical style but trained muscle and battle-hardened experience. We don't have time for on-the-job training.

Since we now know what our dangerous adversaries are capable of, Republicans can't afford to nominate someone who is naïve about and unprepared for the inevitable attacks from the same forces that targeted Trump. The Russia Hoax will seem like tiddlywinks compared to what they're cooking up to destroy the next GOP nominee.

We must go with the ultimate fighter, the one who's been through the fire and come out stronger, the guy who made America great again once—and will do it again.

Trump's—still—the one.

Monica Crowley is the host of the Monica Crowley Podcast and served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 2019-2021.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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