Analysis: How Donald Trump is already laying the groundwork for 2024

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The argument is two-fold: 1) The election is being taken from him and 2) Only Trump among prominent elected Republicans is willing to stand up and fight this tremendous injustice.

“The total lack of action from virtually all of the ‘2024 GOP hopefuls’ is pretty amazing,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr., the President’s eldest son, on Thursday. “They have a perfect platform to show that they’re willing & able to fight but they will cower to the media mob instead. Don’t worry @realDonaldTrump will fight & they can watch as usual!”
“If you want to win in 2024 as a Republican, I would probably start saying something,” tweeted former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale on Thursday night. “Just saying.”

This post-election period, then, is being cast as a loyalty test by Trumpworld. Either you speak up and say that Democrats are stealing this election or you don’t deserve to lead the party in four years’ time.

The problem with that logic is, of course, it’s totally illogical. What Trump and his allies are asking Republican elected officials to do is to say that the election is being stolen from the President despite a total of zero evidence that that is, well, actually happening.

What Trump and his friends in the conservative media are doing is alleging that any continued counting of votes amounts to something untoward — when in fact it is evidence that things are working as they should. The votes being counted now, in virtually every state that remains uncalled, came in BEFORE Election Day. The reason they are being delayed in counting is because many of these states had rules that didn’t allow election officials to begin counting the massive influx of early votes until this week.

To side with Trump on this is to oppose the process that sits at the heart of our democracy. If votes cast legally aren’t allowed to be counted because, uh, the President says they shouldn’t be, then what, exactly are we left with?

That basic fact is why the vast majority of Republicans have avoided endorsing the Trump view fully. Some, like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, have gotten as close to in line as possible — promising to donate to Trump’s legal fund and insisting that only legal votes should be counted. (Which, duh.) Others, like Pennsylvania Pat Toomey (R), who, it’s worth noting, is retiring in 2022, have been less willing to kind of, sort of play along with Trump’s charade.
“I saw the President’s speech last night, and it was very hard to watch,” Toomey said of Trump’s stunningly dishonest address at the White House on Thursday night. “The President’s allegations of large-scale fraud and theft of the election are just not substantiated. I’m not aware of any significant wrongdoing here.”
Concerns about preserving faith in our democratic process is, of course, not at the forefront of Trump’s thinking right now. Instead, he is considering the best way to somehow declare victory (he and his campaign have already said they won several states, like Pennsylvania, that they look unlikely to win) while also positioning himself as the aggrieved victim of a biased media and unfaithful Republicans. That he has no plans to concede, as CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported Friday morning, is perfectly consistent with the “I was robbed” message coming out of Trumpworld

That sort of stance — I won, and even if I didn’t it’s because Republicans didn’t stand up and fight! — is without question an effort to position Trump as the default nominee against Biden in 2024. He’s the only one willing to fight for us, his supporters will be convinced to believe. Everyone else looked away at this election was stolen. Only Trump stood up!

That all of that is disproven by a little something called objective facts won’t matter to those most loyal of Trumpists. They have already thrown their lot in with Trump no matter what — so what’s swallowing one more gigantic falsehood if it allows them to continue to believe that their views represent the majority of Americans?

Don’t believe me about what Trump is doing here? Maybe you’ll believe his former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. “I would absolutely expect the President to stay involved in politics and would absolutely put him on the shortlist of people who are likely to run in 2024,” Mulvaney said Thursday.

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