To hell with the policy. Vibes are the most important thing. The emotions. In this context, I am referring to the general election that will take place in 2024. This week, Donald Trump made history by becoming the first non-incumbent Republican to win a primary in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
While the Republican National Convention was taking place in the year 2020, they did not even attempt to prepare a new party program. The party, on the other hand, might be even less forthcoming with policy ideas this time around.
During the Republican primary debates, there were a number of significant policy disputes that took place. For instance, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy debated the status of the United States’ assistance for Ukraine. On the other hand, Donald Trump, who did not care to take part in the debates, was the one who was the most obvious problem.
To the best of my knowledge, whether we wanted to accept it or not, vibes have always been more important than dealing with problems. It is commonly accepted that charisma, good looks, and height are necessary qualifications for the presidency in this day and age of media.
A “good” reason and a “real” explanation are always there for any conduct that one may exhibit. We engage in the process of reverse engineering substantive arguments to defend our votes because we are unwilling to give in to our deepest feelings.
Take, for instance, the problem of making expenditures. Did Republicans ever show any genuine concern about the national debt and deficits? I don’t understand why there were so many Tea Party rallies conducted by men wearing tricorne hats. I can’t say for sure.
In any case, if you are curious about the reason why Republicans are not discussing spending (to the extent that they formerly did), it is partially due to the fact that Republicans have no conceivable credibility in terms of fiscal prudence after Trump’s presidency. It is also true that the spending issue has lost its sting within the Republican Party, just as it is no longer as powerful for Republicans to use it as a weapon against Democrats.
(Haley made an effort, but it was not very successful, to use Trump’s large expenditures as a weapon against him.)
If one subscribes to the “great man theory” of history, then it is a reasonable assumption to make that powerful leaders are able to entice followers, who then adopt the agenda that they have set for themselves. It is abundantly evident that this occurred with Republicans and Trump.
In this particular instance, the fiscally conservative Club for Growth was frantically looking for ways that Ron DeSantis could outflank Trump from the right. This was just the previous year. Without a doubt, they must have believed that they would discover some policy defection in Trump, as well as some method of framing that subject, that would be deemed unacceptable by devoted conservatives.
They had spent millions of dollars on this endeavor, but they were unsuccessful. According to the president of the organization, “Even when you show [a] video to Republican primary voters—with complete context—of President Trump saying something that would otherwise be objectionable to primary voters, they find a way to rationalize and dismiss it.”
It is possible that issues have always been overstated; nonetheless, there was a time when certain issues mattered a great deal. Not very long ago, there was a period of time when regional issues that were affecting important stakeholders were able to exert influence in significant states. Taking into consideration the fact that John McCain was compelled to change his mind about energy in Iowa in 2007, when he joked, “I drink a glass of ethanol every morning with Chuck Grassley and we have breakfast together.”
In the course of the race for the Iowa caucuses in 2024, I heard very nothing about ethanol or farm subsidies. Our politics have been nationalized, and loyalty to Trump has become the only litmus test that matters.
On the other hand, I am not a heartless materialist who believes that voters have only ever always been concerned with problems that pertain to money. One may assume that in the past, providing support for the right to life was also a requirement for membership in the Republican Party on a national level.
Today, taking into consideration the numerous views that Trump has staked out on the topic, it would appear that the issue of abortion is no longer the third rail of Republican politics.
In all honesty, there are probably still a few topics that people cannot compromise on; the problem is that these non-negotiable concerns tend to trend toward the more angry and conspiratorial side of the spectrum of right-wing beliefs. In today’s world, preventing debilitating debt and saving the unborn are no longer enough to shift the needle.
Trump has avoided saying that he was responsible for Operation Warp Speed, which effectively expedited the delivery of the first COVID vaccines in the United States and contributed to the end of the epidemic. This is because he was booed for asking voters to get vaccinated, and he has been making an effort to avoid mentioning that he was responsible for it. It’s possible that even Trump thought it was safer to follow than to take the initiative.
In addition, immigration and the problem at the border are examples of issues that the Republican base of today is truly concerned about, yet there is little difference between them and Orange Caesar in terms of their stance on the matter. It is very evident that the matter is of great significance to Trump; in fact, he would rather for the matter to continue to exist than for him to really take action to address it.
To this point, I have concentrated on the fact that Republicans are devoid of problems. The fact of the matter is, however, that there will be only one issue at stake in the general election, and that is Donald Trump.
In point of fact, Joe Biden discusses a wide range of topics. But as was the case during the discussions for the Republican nomination, Trump is the most significant problem that the country is currently facing. Biden will seek to draw attention to himself during the election. That being said, the issue of Trump is a valid one.
A “show about nothing” like Seinfeld would not be appropriate for this election. There is a lot at stake. On the other hand, if you are a policy wonk who is concerned with the technical aspects of public policy, you have chosen the wrong time to be alive.
Voters are more interested in experiencing vibes, and they have a tendency to receive what they want. In the history of modern elections, the year 2024 is already shaping up to be the election with the least amount of substance. Attempting to battle against the zeitgeist is a waste of time.