Primarying Trump is a Futile, Self-Defeating Exercise, So Naturally Some On the Right Support It

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump speaks during a Made in America showcase event on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, July 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


I’m going to do dissent from some people that I generally don’t disagree with on most issues, but I feel I’ve got to.

With Mark Sanford jumping into the primary race against Trump, we’ve gotten a new shot of energy among some on the right. The idea is that he’s a credible candidate who can push Trump on the issues has been floating around on social media.

I have a couple of problems with this.

One, there is no path to beating Trump in the primary that doesn’t lead to the Democrat winning in 2020. Right now, Elizabeth Warren is setting herself up to win some of the early states and possibly be in position to rocket ahead after New Hampshire. It is extremely possible she could be the nominee. A socialist, pro-abort, wealth tax supporting liberal that wants government to control nearly every aspect of your life. The point is that the stakes are not low here.

Let’s assume that the ghost of Reagan enters the race and narrowly beats Trump in the primary. Then what? Does anyone think an incumbent President Trump is gong to say “welp, I’ll head back to Trump Tower.” Of course not. He’ll take his 30-40% of the vote or whatever it is in this hypothetical (pretty much impossible) scenario and the Democrat will win.


So what’s the point? What is being accomplished by this except weakening the incumbent to help the Democrat? Yes, there’s some value to being battle tested and taking some shots, but there’s much, much more value (as shown historically) in being an incumbent sitting on the sidelines and not having to contend in a primary.

Here’s my other problem. Because the above is undoubtedly true, all this does is reinforce the idea that more traditional, establishment Republicans are still perfectly happy to lose gracefully rather than doing what it takes to win. When Trump leaves, perhaps they’ll be some return to normalcy as far as the next nominee’s style. What the Republican voters won’t tolerate is a return to the Mitt Romneys of the world who’d rather take a beating with a smile than fight back. It seems some still haven’t learned that lesson.

Listen to some of this interview with Mark Sanford. The platitudes, the political speak, the moral preening. It’s the same stuff the party soundly rejected by electing Trump. Those that think we are going back to this need a reality check. It’s not happening and you are only hurting your own party by not realizing that.


Trying to primary Trump is an exercise in self-defeat. It holds no value except to help Democrats in 2020 and it’s why no Republican should be supporting it. If you don’t like Trump, you will get your shot in 2024. Go out and make the case when the time comes while supporting people who can win in the modern Republican party. There are no short cuts.


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