Trump Deflates – The Atlantic

Ukraine won. Trump lost.

The renews hope that Ukraine can still win its war. It also showed how and why Donald Trump should lose the 2024 election.

For nine years, Trump has dominated the Republican Party. Senators might have loathed him, governors might have despised him, donors might have ridiculed him, college-educated Republican voters might have turned against him—but LOL, nothing mattered. Enough of the Republican base supported him. Everybody else either fell in line, retired from politics, or quit the party.

Trump did not win every fight. In 2019 and 2020, Senate Republicans two of his more hair-raising Federal Reserve nominations, Stephen Moore and Judy Shelton.

But Trump won almost every fight that mattered. Even after January 6, 2021, Senate Republicans protected him from conviction at his impeachment trial. After Trump left office, party leaders still indulged his fantasy that he had “really” won the 2020 election. Attempts to substitute Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley as the 2024 nominee sputtered and failed.

On aid to Ukraine, Trump got his way for 16 months. When Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives in 2022, they approved four separate aid requests for Ukraine, $74 billion. As soon as Trump’s party took control of the House, in January 2023, the aid stopped. Every Republican officeholder understood: Those who wished to show loyalty to Trump must side against Ukraine.

At the beginning of this year, Trump was able even to blow up the toughest immigration bill seen in decades—simply to deny President Joe Biden a bipartisan win. Individual Senate Republicans might grumble, but with Trump opposed, the border-security deal disintegrated.

Three months later, Trump’s party in Congress has rebelled against him—and not on a personal payoff to some oddball Trump loyalist, but on one of Trump’s most cherished issues, his siding with Russia against Ukraine.

The anti-Trump, pro-Ukraine rebellion started in the Senate. Twenty-two Republicans Democrats to approve aid to Ukraine in February. Dissident House Republicans then threatened to force a vote if the Republican speaker would not schedule one. Speaker Mike Johnson declared himself in favor of Ukraine aid. This weekend, House Republicans split between pro-Ukraine and anti-Ukraine factions. On Friday, the House 316–94 in favor of the rule on the aid vote. On Saturday, the aid to Ukraine measure the House by 311–112. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer the Senate will adopt the House-approved aid measures unamended and speed them to President Biden for signature.

As defeat loomed for his anti-Ukraine allies, Trump shifted his message a little. On April 18, he posted on Truth Social that he, too, favored helping Ukraine. “As everyone agrees, Ukrainian Survival and Strength should be much more important to Europe than to us, but it is also important to us!” But that was after-the-fact face-saving, jumping to the winning side after his side was about to lose.

Trump is still cruising to renomination, collecting endorsements even from Republican elected officials who strongly dislike him. But the cracks in unity are visible.

Some are symbolic. Even after Haley withdrew from the Republican presidential contest on March 6, some 13 to 19 percent of Republicans still showed up for her in contests in Georgia and Washington State on March 12; Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio on March 19; and in New York and Connecticut on April 2.

Other cracks are more substantial—and ominous for Trump. Trump’s fundraising has badly lagged President Biden’s, perhaps in part because of Trump’s habit of diverting donations to his own legal defense and other personal uses. In March, Biden on hand as Trump did. in the most competitive races and also lag behind their Democratic counterparts. CNBC that the Republican National Committee is facing “small-dollar donor fatigue” and “major donor hesitation.”

How much of this is traceable to Trump personally? The Ukraine vote gives the most significant clue. Here is the issue on which traditional Republican belief in U.S. global leadership clashes most directly with Trump’s peculiar and sinister enthusiasm for Vladimir Putin’s Russia. And on this issue, the traditional Republicans have now won and Trump’s peculiar enthusiasm got beat.

To make an avalanche takes more than one tumbling rock. Still, the pro-Ukraine, anti-Trump vote in the House is a very, very big rock. On something that mattered intensely to him—that had become a badge of pro-Trump identity—Trump’s own party worked with Democrats in the House and Senate to hand him a stinging defeat. This example could become contagious.

Republicans lost the House in 2018 because they were beaten in districts once held by George H. W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Eric Cantor. They lost the presidency in 2020 in great part because their vote among white suburban men. They lost the Senate in 2021 because Trump fatigue cost them two seats in Georgia. They lost Senate seats and governorships in 2022 because they put forward Trump-branded candidates such as Blake Masters and Kari Lake in Arizona and Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania.

Republicans alienated too many of their own—and paid the political price. They alienated their own because of Trump’s hostility to Ukraine, and that price was paid in blood and suffering by Ukraine’s soldiers and civilians.

The issues that were supposed to keep the Trump show on the road have proved squibs and fizzles. Inflation is down. Crime is down. Republicans threw away the immigration issue by blowing up—at Trump’s order—the best immigration deal they’ve ever seen. The attempt to confect Biden scandals to equal Trump’s scandals turned into an embarrassing fiasco that information from indicted for lying to the FBI. And Trump himself now faces trial in New York State on . He faces a federal trial, probably starting this fall, on the even graver criminal indictments arising from his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Each of these warnings and troubles has deflated Trump. He has deflated to the point where he could no longer thwart Ukraine aid in Congress. Ukraine won, Trump lost. That may be a repeating pattern in the year ahead.

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