Via RCP, this isn’t true but nothing could be more natural than a Trump courtier flattering the president’s monarchical ambitions by insisting that the family’s reign will continue indefinitely.
Brad Parscale said this, coincidentally, a few days before the Atlantic rolled out a splashy new piece about the rivalry developing between Ivanka and Don Jr as Trump’s chief political heir. Ivanka has always been the president’s favorite and superficially she has the most potential. She’s smart, beautiful, perfectly comfortable on camera, and has a reputation as a moderate that might attract voters scared away by dad’s rough edges. The problem is that she has no constituency. Democrats will loathe her forever for participating in her father’s administration; some Trump administration veterans might be able to claw back respect from the opposition (Mattis, for one) but Ivanka and Jared definitely won’t. Meanwhile, she and Kushner are viewed suspiciously by the populist right as Democrats in Republican clothing, obstacles to the nationalist agenda that true believers like Steve Bannon tried to implement. Trumpers like the president’s rough edges, his willingness to be politically incorrect. Ivanka has none of that. She belongs at Davos, not at a MAGA rally with the working class.
If there’s a Trump child with a constituency on the right it’s Junior, who has embraced his father’s populist base while Ivanka’s kept her distance. It’s Don who likes to mix it up on Twitter and talk trash about opponents occasionally on Fox News. And it’s Don, not Ivanka, who’s been outspoken in support of the Trump agenda, especially on the trail. If there’s a political heir here, writes McKay Coppins, it’ll be him, not her.
Don discovered that he had a knack for campaigning. Bounding into county fairs and hunting expos in boots and blue jeans, he dazzled crowds with his knowledge of duck blinds and fly-fishing—sounding more like a Trump voter than a Trump. He thrived in the shouty, testosterone-soaked realm of #MAGA Twitter, where his provocations routinely went viral. Don’s habit of amplifying memes from the right-wing fever swamps generated controversy. (One infamous tweet compared Syrian refugees to poisonous Skittles; another featured the alt-right mascot Pepe the Frog.) But it also helped turn him into a kind of Breitbartian folk hero…
To the surprise of many in elite GOP circles, he also excelled at schmoozing wealthy donors, raising millions of dollars for conservatives in closed-door fundraisers. “He’s as good in a room of six people as he is in a room of 6,000,” says Tommy Hicks Jr., a co-chair of the Republican National Committee and a friend of Don’s…
By November 2018, Don had appeared at more than 70 campaign events across 17 states—and powerful Republicans were abuzz. “I could very easily see him entering politics,” Senator Kevin Cramer told me. “I think his future is bright,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Newsmax’s CEO, Chris Ruddy, told me he’d personally encouraged Don to run for office; Sean Hannity called him “a born natural leader.” Senator Rand Paul went so far as to say that Don was one of the best Republican campaigners in the country. “If you can’t get the president,” Paul told me, “he’s a close second.”
While Don Jr was getting press like that, notes Coppins, Ivanka was getting press like this.
Supposedly Junior has already had discussions about relocating to a sparsely populated western red state like Montana, establishing residence, and running for governor or Senate on the basis of his pedigree as a hunter, a MAGA bro, and, of course, a Trump. What comparable option does Ivanka have? The only way she’d be viable in a Republican primary is if dad personally campaigned for her. And I’m not sure he’d have the same sway as an ex-president, to whom Republicans no longer feel they owe loyalty, as he would as an incumbent. Remember, he couldn’t even get Luther Strange past Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate primary runoff a few years ago. Imagine him trying to get his glamorous centrist NYC-born-and-bred daughter elected in Wyoming or whatever.
I think Don Jr could get elected to a statewide seat somewhere, but president? Listen: If a Trump apologist as hardcore as Lou Dobbs is reacting this way to “dynasty” talk, God only knows how mortified rank-and-file Republicans are at the idea.
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) September 9, 2019
Populism and dynasty aren’t as incompatible as they should be. The French went from revolution to the Bonaparte clan ruling much of Europe within 25 years. A cynic might even define populism as a movement among average people to secure for themselves the same pernicious privileges the elites enjoy, up to and including hereditary political power. Dobbs is kidding himself if he thinks MAGA Nation would reject a dynasty on principle.
The reason there won’t be a Trump dynasty in practice is that Republicans will simply be too tired after Trump is gone to do this again. Not all of them: There’ll always be voters who crave “chaos incitement” to soothe their feeling of disempowerment, but most GOPers just won’t have the stomach for another four-year run of government Trump-style. The tweets; the endless personnel churn; the weird erratic “let’s invite the Taliban to Camp David” nonsense; the impetuous policy shifts, like a trade war with China, that seem to follow no master plan — it’s just too much. Righties will stick with Trump in 2020 because they’re completely invested in him as the incumbent but they’re not doing this again anytime soon with Don Jr, who, notwithstanding his stump skills, lacks dad’s mystique as a celebrity and as some sort of master businessman. Who’s to say that Don will even be the Trumpiest figure on the Republican landscape 10 years from now? You don’t think Tucker Carlson could out-Trump him if he wanted to?
Don’s best shot as a national figure would be to MAGA his way into state office somewhere and then tone his Trumpiness way down. If he governed effectively in a relatively low-key way, he’d have appeal to both the MAGA and potentially the non-MAGA wings of the party. (“He’s like his dad, but coherent!”) The problem there, though, is that dad’s likely to be around for awhile sniping at people from the sidelines even if he doesn’t get a second term. And if he doesn’t, if he ends up losing his reelection bid after having lost the popular vote to Hillary three years ago, how valuable will the “Trump” political brand really be? George H.W. Bush won his term in a landslide and left office as a respected statesman. Trump will be reviled by the opposition forever when he goes and even many supporters on the right will have long since reached the point of fatigue from his antics. How do you build a dynasty on that?