What a Shame, Mr. Putin, You Lost

If the MAGA candidates (from the Trump wing of the Republican Party) had come through with the expected tidal wave, U.S. support for Ukraine would have been weakened.

The “red wave” that was going to roll over the United States like a tsunami ran out of steam. It was Donald Trump who lost, not the Republican Party.

While we wait for the results in Arizona and Nevada*, and the runoff election in Georgia (Dec. 6), here are some preliminary impressions of Tuesday’s election.

Trump’s defeat was also a setback for Vladimir Putin. If the Make America Great Again candidates (from the Trump wing of the Republican Party) had come through with the expected tidal wave, U.S. support for Ukraine would have been weakened.

Mainstream Republicans never questioned the necessity of approving large appropriations for aid to Ukraine after it was invaded by Putin’s army. But the Trump wing questions that support, arguing that it involves spending U.S. taxpayers’ money on a faraway war that, they say, does not involve them. But the underlying reason is the close relationship between Putin and Trump, who has praised the Russian invasion.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has steered clear of extreme positions and whom Trump hates, said Nov. 10 that regardless of the election results, the Republicans will vote in favor of allocating funds for Ukraine’s defense.

China was hoping that Joe Biden would be weakened by the midterm elections, even to the extreme of impeachment; this way, they would have had carte blanche for an assault on Taiwan or the Vietnamese islands in what they call “the China Sea.” Xi Jinping has his army on a war footing, but taking action against Taiwan or Vietnam is not the same as going up against the United States, which is in turmoil, turned inward in a domestic crisis with a strengthened President Biden and mainstream Republicans who back U.S. foreign policy.

Trump was pulled up short by the voters when the majority of his candidates lost. In several cases, he became a liability for the Republican Party, which would have won, or would have lost by less, where Trump’s candidates were insupportable.

Trump, who had planned to launch his presidential candidacy Thursday, Nov. 10, or Friday, Nov.11, ran out of steam.** His advisers suggested that he postpone his decision until the result of the Georgia Senate runoff election was known, where another of his insupportable candidates, Herschel Walker, is running.

Ron DeSantis’s huge victory in Florida was a bucket of cold water on Trump’s aspirations. Even the New York Post, which has been the paper most favorable to Trump, and which leaked dirty lies against the Biden family during the recent presidential campaign, mocked the former president on page one, and praised the Florida governor.

The front page headline was “Trumpty Dumpty” (in a play on words on the nursery rhyme about an egg that falls and breaks, and nobody can put him back together again).

On the eve of the election, there was a call on social media to protest in Detroit about a minor issue around absentee voting. No one took to the streets. That egg is broken, but Trump will never admit it, because those who agree with him will never accept defeat. We will see this in the competition on the campaign trail.

There are two rising stars who are getting stronger, and it may not be many years before one of them —DeSantis or Gretchen Whitmer — is in the White House.

On Nov. 9, Biden was asked who he would prefer to face in 2024, Trump or DeSantis; he answered, with ironic humor: “It’ll be fun watching them take on each other.”

DeSantis, who is 44, rolled over his Democratic rival by almost 40 points in the Florida governor’s race. This is the payoff for his good work as governor and for his formidable team. He focused his campaign on attacking Biden, but everybody knew that his real target was Trump.

“It is clear the center of gravity of the Republican Party is in the state of Florida, and I don’t mean Mar-a-Lago,” said David Urban, one of Trump’s advisers in the 2016 campaign. Beyond that, DeSantis did not ask Trump for a single dollar for this election.

But the arguments of intelligent people often do not have an impact on messianic populists like Trump, who will undoubtedly seek the nomination.** So, DeSantis would have to wait four years, or go up against Trump. I do not believe this will happen.

Whitmer, who is 51, also defeated her opponent in the Michigan governor’s race, Tudor Dixon, by double digits. Dixon is a red-bone Trump disciple and a 2020 election denier. One of the “big lie” promoters, he was buried in voting in this Midwest swing state.

Whitmer’s achievement was to sweep the Republicans: The Democrats took control of the state legislature and won the secretary of state contest.

Whitmer is the natural candidate for the Democrats. Perhaps the only one able to beat DeSantis. But, but … President Biden has said that he is going to think about his decision to run again. If he decides to, Whitmer will have to wait four years.

What does Biden’s final decision depend on? Trump may launch his candidacy** and, if so, Biden could in all likelihood run for reelection and win. But if the Republican candidate is someone else, then the answer is not so clear.

*Editor’s Note: Since the publication of the original language version of this article, both Senate races were called for the Democratic candidate, giving Democrats control of the Senate.

**Editor’s Note: Donald Trump declared his candidacy on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

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