The announcement that all sane people on the American right were waiting for has finally arrived; Donald Trump is not running for President of the United States. Such an announcement has not come a moment too soon, and there are many conservatives breathing a huge sigh of relief.
It was always tempting to dismiss Trump as a joke candidate from the beginning who never had any chance of gaining the Republican nomination. This may or may not be true, but it doesn’t mean that Trump did not pose any danger to a Republican victory in 2012. He had already caused a great deal of damage by first pretending to speak for American conservatives, and then going off on a wild goose chase for Obama’s birth certificate; making conservatives look like a bunch of conspiracy believing loons. The media had lapped up the sideshow, and it seemed that Trump would take the spotlight from any other candidate until he was defeated at the primaries early next year.
By that time however, it could have been too late. It seemed like Trump was set to also go after Obama’s education records in order to prove that the President was not smart enough to have gone to Harvard, and that he was therefore a recipient of affirmative action policies. Even if such statements were true, it would hardly reflect badly on Obama (he didn’t ask to receive special treatment) and regardless of the outcome the issue would be used against conservatives to demonstrate that Republicans were more concerned with side issues than with the real problems facing the country.
Trump represents one of two paths that the Republicans can go down for 2012. In football terms, they can either play the man or the ball; and Trump would represent trying to play the man. Trump is certainly not alone in wanting to attack Obama instead of the issues; with other candidates such as the irritating Michelle Bachman standing strong with a fair amount of Tea Party support should she choose to run. Such a path is doomed to end in failure. Although his nastier side has come out over the last year, Obama is still seen by many as a likeable guy, and his personal popularity ratings are much higher than his ratings on the issues – which remain stubbornly low.
It is on the issues where the Republicans can win big. This has been proved already; the 2010 midterms barely made any personal references to Obama at all, and focused almost entirely on the economy. It resulted in annihilation for the Democrats at the polls, and one of the biggest swings in United States political history. A similar swing for the Presidential Elections in 2012 would not only hand the Republicans the Presidency, but give them a landslide as well.
Obama is not a steady President. Despite figures in the media telling us that Obama would receive a massive boost from the death of Bin Laden, there has been very little of this, and Rasmussen actually reports a drop in approval for Obama over the last week. With gas prices at a very high level, 1 in 6 Americans on food stamps, Obamacare extremely unpopular, and unemployment stubbornly refusing to go down, Obama’s go to excuse of blaming Bush is wearing thin and will not carry him into 2012. It is on the issues where Obama is weak, and he has run out of ideas.
In a generally conservative country like America (where Obama’s ideas were never particularly popular), the Republicans only need to make sure that they have a candidate that will draw attention to the issues, and also to Obama’s failure to deliver anything but warmed up socialism. They therefore need to pick a solid, upstanding candidate with no hang ups, strange beliefs (nothing weird on evolution, please), or obsessions with birth certificates and college transcripts. If they can pick someone who can stick to the issues, and not get drawn into conspiracy theories and personal attacks, then 2012 could seal Obama’s fate as a one-term President, and 2013 could usher in a fresh era of conservatism in America.
Should the Republicans fail to do this, Obama will not need to win the 2012 election – the Republicans will lose it on their own.