Most professional Democrats and other college-educated liberals would agree that former president Donald Trump, in the words of the New York Times editorial board, is "the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II." Some might take offense at the suggestion that World War II was a greater threat than Trump, and insist on invoking the Civil War. In any event, these people were terrified at the thought of Trump beating Joe Biden in 2020. What seems to terrify them even more is the thought that Trump won't run again in 2024.
Barry Goodman, a Democratic donor who served on Biden's national finance committee during the 2020 campaign, recently told the Washington Post that he and many other party donors are "praying that Trump runs." Because Trump is an existential threat to democracy, Goodman argued, American voters "are not going to put that despot in office one more time," no matter who Democrats nominate in 2024. If that sounds familiar, it's because some Democrats made the exact same argument in 2016.
The Lincoln Project, a disgraced Democratic super PAC and neo-Nazi cosplay troupe, is actively working to ensure that Trump runs and wins the nomination. "We believe if we narrow the field and it's only Trump in 2024, it's an easy choice for Americans to say 'no,'" Lincoln Project cofounder Rick Wilson told CNN.
Speaking of CNN, the liberal news network has lost nearly 80 percent of its audience since January and might be more desperate than anyone for Trump to run again. Few organizations were able to cash in on Trump's notoriety more successfully than CNN, whose relentless coverage of Trump's every utterance gave him billions of dollars' worth of free media exposure. CNN executives probably wouldn't even be that bothered if Trump won in 2024.
Trump running again would be a windfall for just about every organization that professionally opposes him. The Democratic Party and affiliated super PACs like the Lincoln Project would rake in donations from outraged liberals, and CNN would make a killing by running extended clips of Trump rallies and reminding viewers why they need to be outraged. The network's chief fact-checker, Daniel Dale, would be forced out of semi-retirement.
If Trump does decide to run again and win the GOP nomination, it's not immediately clear who Democrats will nominate to challenge him. Biden, who just turned 79, insists he's running for reelection. Vice President Kamala Harris has an approval rating of 28 percent. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is an empty shell of a man whose previous campaign struggled in states where less than 90 percent of the population was white. What could go wrong?