Strangely, most observers are not asking the most important question in American politics: will Trump run in 2020?
Instead, pundits are feeding us the potentially false narrative that a Trump run in 2020 is inevitable. However, the evidence that Trump plans to run in 2020 is scanty.
Specifically, President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) has not said if he will run in 2020? However, I have not heard a single reporter come out and ask the president that question.
Strangely, there is a Trump/Pence 2020 campaign website online. Incredibly, that site asks for contributions without saying if Trump will run.
Will Trump Run in 2020 or drop out?
Instead of saying if he will run, Trump offers cryptic statements about candidates he wants to run against. For instance, Trump is daring New York Governor Chris Cuomo (D-NYC) to toss his hat into the presidential ring.
Hence, I think Trump has not decided about a second term. To clarify, I think the Donald is sensibly waiting to see what the political environment will be in 2020 before announcing.
In particular, Trump wants to see how strong the Democratic candidate will be and if he will face a serious primary battle before committing. Historically, presidents how have faced a serious challenge have lost. Interestingly, Jimmy Carter (D-Georgia); a president often compared to Trump, lost his reelection bid after an aggressive primary challenge from U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) in 1980.
Under those circumstances, we may not get a clear decision from the president until late in 2019. Instead, of a settled presidential race, we could have overnight chaos if Trump drops out.
Why Trump will not tell us if he will run in 2020
Surprisingly, there are several good reasons Trump is keeping his plans for 2020 secret.
First, Trump understands that a decision not to run again will alienate and disappoint many of his supporters. In fact, I think many Trump supporters will turn against the president if he refuses to run. Remember, many of the supporters have an intense emotional investment in the president.
Second, Trump will become a lame duck president if he announces he will not in 2020. To clarify, it will reduce the president’s political influence if he goes lame duck. Instead, of leading the party, the lame duck president becomes a figurehead or master of ceremonies. For a textbook example of this see Barrack Obama (D-Illinois) in 2016.
Third, it will force Trump to make tough decisions about a successor if he announces he is not running. For instance, the Donald will have to decide whether to endorse the next Republican nominee. In particular, Trump could have to endorse somebody he loathes like U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).
Fourth, not running will expose how weak and uninfluential Trump really is. For instance, without Trump there is no Trumpist movement in the Republican Party, In fact, several close Trump allies; including Kansas Governor Kris Kobach went down in the 2018 mid-term elections.
Thus, if Trump announces he is not running, he could lose control of the Republican Party. Instead, the Donald could end up presiding over a Grand Old Party with a political agenda he opposes.
Why the media will not ask if will Trump run in 2020?
Now we must ask why “journalists” refuse to ask the simple question will Trump run in 2020?
I suspect journalists and pundits have too much invested in Trump to imagine a political environment without him. Notably, Trump makes for interesting and entertaining news copy. In addition, the name Trump generates a lot of hits to websites and sells a lot of newspapers.
Moreover, I think many members of the media are afraid of alienating Trump supporters by telling them their emperor has no clothes. To explain, Trump fans are mostly the older white Americans who make up the viewer and reader base of dying old media like the Big Three TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC).
Why the Media is Afraid Trump will not run in 2020
Potentially, the fear in the newsrooms is that their last viewers and readers will dump those media if it says anything bad about Trump.
In addition, Trump’s fan base includes a sizeable number of people in the executive suites of the companies that own the old media. Some journalists refuse to ask will Trump run in 2020 out of fear for their jobs.
A related problem is that the likely replacements for Trump are far-left Democrats like U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and fan favorite Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) scare media elitists. For instance, Harris is trumpeting her support for single-payer healthcare, basic income, and massive tax increases on the rich.
I suspect part of the media’s silly enthusiasm for Trump is that Wall Street and media leaders see him as a barrier against increasingly radical left-wing Democrats. To explain, corporate leaders fear higher taxes, stricter regulations, and antitrust investigations under any Democratic administration. On the other hand, they know Trump supports lower taxes, fewer regulations, and muzzled watchdogs.
Therefore; instead of trying to map the true political landscape, the media keeps spreading the false narrative of “Trump’s America.” Ironically, Trump himself understands Trump’s America only exists in the minds of leftwing pundits who rarely venture east of Yonkers.
How Trump can Shock America by not running
Under these circumstances, we will not a clear answer from the President for months. Instead, I think Trump will follow the example of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge (R-Massachusetts).
To explain, on 2 August 1927, Coolidge shocked the nation by handing out a note that stated “I do not choose to run for president in 1928” at a press conference. It shocked people because most observers believe Coolidge could have easily won reelection in 1928.
Hence, Trump could announce he is not running in a Tweet or casually mention his decision to drop out at a press conference or in an interview. Notably, Trump is in a far weaker position today than Coolidge was in 1927.
Could Trump Imitate Calvin Coolidge?
For example, Coolidge was a popular and uncontroversial president; whose Republican Party enjoyed comfortable majorities in both houses of Congress. Plus America was enjoying unprecedented peace and prosperity in 1927.
On the other hand, Trump is an unpopular and controversial President who faces a deeply divided Congress. Indeed, Trump must deal with a House of Representatives that is downright hostile to him and a lukewarm Senate.
Additionally, America is dealing with a prosperous but shaky economy in 2019 just like it was in 1927. Notably, the Great Depression began in 1929, just after Coolidge left the White House.
In fact, voters blamed Coolidge’s successor Herbert Hoover (R-California) for the Depression. Consequently, voters will blame Trump if a recession or economic crisis begins in 2019 or 2020. I suspect, Trump will drop out if he thinks an economic crisis is coming.
Interestingly, after leaving office, Coolidge admitted he had refused to deal with big questions during his presidency. For instance, Coolidge largely ignored foreign policy, increasing income inequality, and the growing unpopularity of Prohibition; a signature Republican policy in 1928, as president.
Likewise, Trump is ignoring important foreign policy questions; like America’s relationship with China, growing income inequality, and the mounting crisis of climate change. If he leaves office, Trump can dump those problems on his successor as Coolidge did.
Under the circumstances, not seeking running in 2020 is the rational course of action for Donald J. Trump. It will not surprise me if Trump “shocks” the media by announcing he is not running for reelection.