Second Trump administration would be bonkers

Rich Lowry, syndicated columnist

If Donald Trump’s Truth Social posts about his supposedly impending arrest make it feel like our politics are about to reach another level of insanity, just wait.

The potential Alvin Bragg prosecution offers a taste of what our national politics will be like post-November 2024 if Donald Trump wins the presidency again.

The left freaked out in 2017, and that was before the Trump attempt to overturn an election, before January 6 and, we can presume, before he was indicted, perhaps more than once.

If Trump wins again via the Electoral College while losing the popular vote, it will be considered a damning indictment of our constitutional system, and there will be a new reason — some equivalent of Russian election interference in 2017 — for progressives to deny the legitimacy of his victory.

There will be large-scale street protests, making good on the threat that had cities around the country boarding up prior to the 2020 election.

The atmosphere will be fevered, and however much people lost perspective in 2017, the reflex will be to lose it even more.

The notion of national divorce, already a topic on the fringes of the right, will gain more traction on the left.

Trump will probably be in personal danger, and so will nearly anyone associated with him.

Security around cabinet officials will have to be beefed up, and the question won’t be if White House staff members will be harassed in restaurants and other public places, but how threatening it will be.

For his part, Trump would certainly be running an ALL CAPS presidency in the spirit of his Truth Social feed.

He promised as much at CPAC earlier this month: “In 2016, I declared, ‘I am your voice.’ Today, I add: I am your warrior. I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

When radio host Hugh Hewitt pushed Trump on this point in an interview, asking if he would “use the powers of the presidency to punish people who punished you,” he denied it.

“I would be entitled to a revenge tour, if you want to know the truth,” Trump replied, “but I wouldn’t do that.”

Why? Because he is so beholden to propriety and institutional constraints?

The revenge tour isn’t a new thing, by the way. During his first term, Trump demanded the arrest of his enemies. Why would a second term be any different, especially given that he is angrier and more aggrieved than a few years ago?

What is likely to change is that the administration will be stocked with officials more likely to act on Trump’s worst instincts and half-baked ideas than the first time around. After seeing how many of the officials from the first term had bad ends — cashiered or insulted or both — the pool of people willing to say, “Thank you, sir, may I have another,” will be much smaller.

Republicans on the outside will surely find themselves often forced into the same position as in recent days, when they’ve tamped down, out of prudence, Trump’s call for PROTESTS of his prospective arrest.

Not that it made any impression on Trump. He poured scorn on the idea of peaceful protest in a recent post going after Bragg: “HE IS JUST CARRYING OUT THE PLANS OF THE RADICAL LEFT LUNATICS. OUR COUNTRY IS BEING DESTROYED, AS THEY TELL US TO BE PEACEFUL!”

Of course, the wilder a Trump administration gets, the crazier the opposition becomes, and vice versa. Energy that in a different Republican administration could be devoted to moving the ball forward will be dissipated in an endless cycle of chaos and drama.

It would be profoundly irresponsible of Alvin Bragg to go forward with the indictment and arrest of Trump. The only upside is providing a preview of a future that Republicans, no matter how much they oppose Bragg’s prosecution, should want to avoid.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rich Lowry is on Twitter @RichLowry


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today