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It’s easy to predict the 2018 midterms (i.e., the Democrats will win big… or they might not).

It’s a little tougher to predict the 2020 presidential election (i.e., Trump will lose in a landslide… or he might not).

But if we really want to get crazy, let’s look at the 2024 presidential election. Because regardless of whether or not Trump gets reelected in 2020, he will not run in the election after that. Either because he’s a disgraced loser who is way to old to run for office, or because he is constitutionally prohibited from a third term (unless, of course, he declares himself president for life… ahem). 

In any case, we can say, with a high degree of certainty, that Trump will not be the GOP nominee in 2024.

So who will it be?

Well, let’s face it — naming a specific person at this point is idiotic, arrogant, or a sad attempt to fill time on a 24-hour news channel having a slow day.

No, I don’t have any names to throw around. However, I can predict what type of person the Republican nominee will be. First, we can be fairly certain that he will be a guy, probably a white guy, and probably an older white guy. After all, the GOP is overwhelmingly the party of older white guys. So don’t expect their future nominee to be an Asian woman in her forties. 

Of course, the limited gender and racial makeup of the current and future Republican Party is well-known. The bigger question is what characteristics the 2024 nominee will have.

And this is where it gets truly interesting. Conventional wisdom holds that Trump has so severely damaged the GOP brand that it will not recover, at least not any time soon. Trump’s incompetence, corruption, and immorality have repulsed most Americans from voting Republican. Combined with undeniable demographic trends, the GOP will be sent reeling in the coming years.

Under such adverse conditions, the GOP will try to make amends. They will nominate a moderate in 2024, and his campaign will basically consist of begging for forgiveness. But this tactic will fail miserably, and the Republican Party will essentially be confined to pockets of the Deep South and rural America, with nothing but decay and slow death in its future.

But wait. There is a different version of this story.

You see, there is a school of thought that Trump has permanently altered not just the GOP, but American politics itself. His brand of fire-breathing madness and racist demagoguery has revealed the GOP for what it is. And the conservative base loves it. Far from punishing Trump and his allies for, say, insulting anyone who isn't a white man, the GOP true believers are more enthralled than ever.

As a result, Republicans are now perfectly comfortable embracing xenophobia and tolerating tacky pronouncements on race and ethnicity. In fact, they are loath to disclaim it, for fear of pissing off their army of bigots.

In this scenario, the next GOP nominee will be just as prejudicial, neo-fascistic, and hate-filled as Trump. The probable difference is that he will not be as overtly crude as Trump. He will be more polished, and more open to playing nice when it suits him. At the very least, he will have just enough self-control to avoid attacking people in 5:00 tweetstorms.

This smoother, more charming Trump could indeed win a general election, especially if the Democrats find a way to screw up things up like they always do.

And then what happens? Well, Trump 2.0 would have little trouble pushing America into authoritarianism for the foreseeable future. He will succeed where Trump’s belligerence and obvious mental instability have failed.

He will create a new nation. And it will all be over for the rest of us.

How’s that for a prediction?


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