You can like Trump and still hope he doesn’t run for president

For my many Republican friends who really like Donald Trump, here’s an exercise in “Two Things Can be True at the Same Time.”

As in: You can like (even love) Trump (that can be true) and still hope he doesn’t run for president in 2024 (that can also be true). Also:  You can think Trump was a successful president and still fault him for his self-destructive character traits (like his enormous ego, his narcissism and his boorishness). Finally, you can like Trump and still hope he doesn’t mess up some easy GOP congressional victories by endorsing far-right candidates who can’t win.

I believe the Republican Party has a great chance of winning control of at least one chamber of Congress in 2022 and a pretty good chance of winning the presidency in 2024. To me, that’s critical if we want to put the brakes on the hard leftward tilt our country is taking under the Biden administration and the Democratic Congress. The future of the country really is at stake.

But Trump could throw a monkey wrench into the Republican machine that is poised to do well in the next two elections. If he injects himself into too many GOP primaries and endorses fringe candidates, the party has less chance to regain control of Congress. And if he runs for president in 2024, he ensures a Democratic win. 

I fully acknowledge that Trump is the most popular person in the Republican Party. He can handily win the GOP nomination in 2024. He is the Leviathan straddling the party. But he is incredibly toxic to many moderate Republicans and to most independents. They won’t vote for him, and the Democrats will enjoy another historic turnout to ensure his defeat. He can’t put together a winning coalition, even against a weak Joe Biden or Kamala Harris.

If he runs and loses he sets back the conservative agenda for at least another four years.

I have long defended many of the policies of Trump’s presidency, although I strongly disagree with some. In general, Trump had good instincts for good policy and he governed, for the most part, as a real conservative. His policies were certainly better than the big government, tax-and-spend priorities of the current administration.

But Trump is also consumed by enormous character flaws, not the least of which is that everything has to be about him. He demands loyalty, but has no loyalty to others. His insane crusade to overturn the 2020 election makes no sense except to him and his most fervent disciples.  

Despite his massive popularity among most Republicans, Trump brings immense baggage to the political arena. He can be a kingmaker, but he can no longer be king himself.

Therefore, say it slowly a couple of times. You’ll get used to it, and you’ll know its right:  “I like Donald Trump, but I don’t want him to run for president . . . I like Donald Trump, but I don’t want him to run for president.”