Donald Trump remains the favorite for the 2024 Republican nomination — and reports of his political death by petty pundits are exaggerated, to put it generously. But even if the nation is blessed with a second presidential term, Trump won’t be around forever. And ever since Trump won the most important electoral victory in modern American history six years ago, patriotic Americans have wondered: Can the “Donald Trump moment” survive beyond Donald Trump himself?
Wonder no more. The first true heir of Donald Trump — the person who matches not only his America-first positions but also his incredible raw political talent — has arrived. In Kari Lake, the America First movement doesn’t just have the next governor of Arizona. It has a budding national (or even global) superstar.
“Trumpism after Trump” has become a familiar routine. For years, professional conservatives have lectured voters about the need to translate President Trump’s winning style into a “serious” policy agenda. But this charisma-free vision of politics misses the essential core of Trump’s appeal. Kari Lake reminds us exactly what that is.
In a great many cases, this post-Trump ideology is little more than wish fulfillment—the dreamer’s fantasy of a political movement that takes everything the dreamer likes about Trump while cutting loose everything they dislike about it. In fact, the most common dream is better described not as “Trumpism after Trump,” but as Trumpism without Trump.
According to these establishment luminaries, Donald Trump was too crude, uncouth, and belligerent. He spent too much time on Twitter jousting with his critics, and too little time poring over the most recent Conservatism Inc. white papers. Trump traumatized these nerds by blowing up the polite version of politics that they wish existed; the fake image broadcasted in Aaron Sorkin TV shows.