by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
For weeks now, the mainstream media has been telling us how Trump’s flurry of eleventh-hour campaigning is a sign of desperation, but as usual they miss the mark. What these rallies really show is that win or lose, Trump isn’t going away after this election. He’s the most popular Republican in the country by far—and will remain so, no matter what happens on Tuesday.
If Twitter blue checks weren’t so busy denouncing Trump rallies as COVID-19 superspreader events or “the stuff of Nazi rallies,” as one Vox blogger put it, they might notice how these events are more than just campaign rallies; they’re manifestations of a fundamental shift that’s taken place in American political life.
The enthusiasm Trump inspires among his supporters is new in the modern era. Obama might have moved a bunch of Hollywood celebrities to make that embarrassing “Yes We Can” video in 2008 and that hagiographic biopic “Barry” in 2016, but he never inspired the kind of organic manifestations of Trump support we’ve seen from ordinary Americans: boat and ATV parades, massive highway caravans, homemade Trump flags, signs, tambourines, and all manner of Trump Americana cropping up at makeshift roadside stands.
Over the weekend, while Trump was staging his whirlwind of closeout rallies, caravans for Trump, most of them organized by local people with no connection to the Trump campaign, once again appeared all over the country from San Diego to New Jersey.
This isn’t the kind of thing that will simply dissipate if Trump loses to Joe Biden. Even out of power, he will command the loyalty of a large enough swath of voters so as to control the Republican Party, informally. …
… As for party politics, the mainstream pundits prognosticating about who’ll emerge to lead the GOP in the event of a Trump loss don’t seem to realize that it will be Trump himself.