2023 was the year of chaos amongst both political parties

6 min read

The best thing about 2023 is that it’s ending, meaning we can finally say good riddance to one of the strangest years in American politics. 

Both parties contributed, but Democrats were extra strange.

Many of them say they hate Donald Trump, but have a weird way of showing it. 

Often it seems like they’re doing everything under the sun to elect him. 

After the 2020 election and the overheated aftermath, Dems could have chosen to govern in a center-left way that would have largely united the nation and isolated Trump and his grievances.

Instead, they let the far left set the domestic agenda, ruined the economy, threw open the border and pursued a history-shattering prosecution of the former president. 

The result may be that Trump gets his party’s nomination and wins the White House largely because his opponents tried to put him in jail! 

Talk about strange. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did her part with the dopey idea that two Trump-hating Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, would give a bipartisan sheen to her Jan. 6 inquisition. 

President Biden fell sway to the same delusion, publicly spitting out MAGA, MAGA, MAGA as a curse and privately pushing his bitter attorney general, Merrick Garland, to charge the former president with crimes. 

Garland did as he was told, even as he dutifully tried to kill the strong case against the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

But bringing just one set of charges against Trump wasn’t enough for many in the party. 

Prosecutors inside and outside of Washington accepted the invitation and hit Trump with four separate indictments, a total of 91 criminal counts, most of them silly or suspect. 

It’s necessary, they thunder in unison, because Trump is a threat to democracy.

Almost as shocking is that they are serious, their self-righteous bile highlighting the irony of protecting democracy by trying to lock up their leading opponent. 

The overreach also features a New York civil case where authorities aim to take away Trump’s businesses and bankrupt him.

It’s a financial case without a victim, but has an overtly partisan state attorney general who, along with a judge best suited for “The Gong Show,” concocted a show trial that would gladden the hearts of authoritarians everywhere. 

To be sure, there is a receptive audience for doing whatever it takes to stop Trump.

Not favoring him politically is understandable, but far too many Americans still see no limits when it comes to getting him. 

It is a mania shared by most print, broadcast and digital media, which gives the approach a legitimacy it doesn’t deserve. 

“Orange Man Bad” is supposed to be a joke, not a call for jihad. 

The Dems’ latest efforts — to block Trump from appearing on state ballots — is a testament to their determination and resourcefulness. 

It also smacks of desperation, as they suddenly realize their prosecutions backfired. Now afraid he’ll win, they’re trying to prevent him from playing. 

Their belated recognition that they helped to spark Trump’s comeback is on target.

In addition to Biden’s rampant failures, his age and in-your-face family corruption, many Republican and independent voters view the prosecutions as persecutions and are raising their hands for Trump in response. 

Those converted voters are why Trump has risen like Lazarus and racked up such large leads for the GOP nomination. 

Don’s dizzying gains 

His national lead in polls is a remarkable 50 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average of recent surveys. 

Contrast that with the start of the year, when Trump’s total GOP support was about 35%.

His party rivals subscribed to the belief that much of that support was soft, and that no more than one-in-four Republicans were fully committed to him. 

Their game plan was to peel away the others, show his fatal weakness in the early primaries and fight each other for the nomination. 

The path seemed clear, and the case appeared to grow stronger when the first criminal investigations of the former president emerged. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis among others tweaked their message to argue that the probes, and especially the possibility of convictions, would scare away moderate Republicans and independents, rendering Trump unelectable. 

Therefore, they argued, primary voters should not waste their chance to defeat Biden by nominating Trump because he was a sure-fire loser in the general election. 

Count that misreading of Republican voters by Trump’s opponents as their contribution to a strange year.

Like Dems, they belatedly realized the prosecutions had the opposite effect of what they expected. 

As DeSantis put it in a recent TV interview, “If I could have one thing change, I wish Trump hadn’t been indicted on any of this stuff.”

DeSantis said the charges had “just crowded out, I think, so much other stuff and it’s sucked out all the oxygen.” 

One result of the indictments was that Trump correctly decided he could skip the GOP debates without consequences.

The fact that the leading candidate never shared a stage with his rivals, yet saw his lead expand, proved the others were always fighting for second place. 

Of course, we’ll know soon how strong Trump really is among GOP voters and whether his wild comeback is the real thing. 

The first big test comes in two weeks with the Iowa caucuses, where Trump has a lead of 32 points over DeSantis in the average of recent polls. 

Eight days later, New Hampshire holds the first primary, where Trump’s closest challenger is former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who trails him by 22 points. 

The switch in runner-up spots highlights a fundamental problem for anti-Trump voters and candidates.

With DeSantis, Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy all picking up a share of support, no single opponent has been able to consolidate the non-Trump vote. 

Without some sign that consolidation is happening, it’s very hard to see how anyone beats Trump in the early states.

And losers often run out of money and fold their tents before the big delegate hauls at stake on Super Tuesday, which is March 5 this time. 

Moreover, even victories in Iowa or New Hampshire don’t always translate into a momentum that carries all the way to the nomination.

Sen. Ted Cruz beat Trump and a large field in Iowa in 2016, but quickly faded and dropped out in May. 

In the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contests, Biden finished fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire.

Pete Buttigieg won Iowa and Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire, but Biden, ripping off a Mark Twain line, declared “The reports of our death are premature” and won big in South Carolina, putting him on course for the nomination. 

The fact that Biden is even running again adds another twist to 2024, with a majority of Dems saying they want someone else.

Then again, most voters also say they don’t want a Biden-Trump rematch, but all signs point to exactly that. 

Happy New Year anyway.

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