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Mitch McConnell Calls It Quits

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It is Year Nine of the Trump era.

Donald Trump is cruising to his third presidential nomination.

In the process, Trump has finally crushed the old Republican establishment and killed off any dreams of a return to the status quo ante. Super Tuesday 2024 will cement his hostile takeover.


“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Wednesday that he will not run for another term as leader, ending a record-setting run atop the GOP conference.

The Kentucky Republican has served as party leader since 2007, the longest stint in Senate history. He indicated that he plans to serve out the rest of his Senate term, which expires in 2026.

“I’m no longer the young man sitting in the back hoping colleagues would remember my name. It’s time for the next generation of leadership,” McConnell said. …”

As I have said many times before, Donald Trump’s historical legacy looks a lot different in 2024. He was essentially in an island in a sea of mainstream conservatives in 2017. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan ruled the House and Senate. Anthony Kennedy was the swing vote on the Supreme Court. Trump’s Cabinet was full of mainstream conservatives – people like Rick Perry or Mick Mulvaney – and his administration was staffed from top to bottom with people who resisted implementing his priorities.

At the time, it was still possible to believe that Trump was a flash in the pan who could be waited out and used as a tool to advance traditional conservative priorities like tax cuts, but after three election cycles (2018, 2020 and 2022) it is clear that Trumpism has become normalized. Reaganite conservatives have been gradually retiring from Congress. Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse are gone. Mitt Romney is leaving the Senate. Mitch McConnell surrendering power in the Senate is the latest domino to fall. Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, John McCain, Roy Blunt, Richard Burr … one by one, they have left the building.

If Trump is elected president in 2024, his second term won’t be anything like his first term. He has steadily remolded his party over the last eight years. He has pushed out people like Liz Cheney, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell. Trump has been normalized to a generation of younger voters born after 9/11 who cannot even remember how powerful the old conservative establishment used to be.

Moral of the story: in retrospect, revolutions in politics take time to put down roots. I was too hasty in completely writing off Trump after three or four months in office. He isn’t done yet. Trump’s legacy could end up looking very different by the year 2029 than it did in 2017.


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