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Point: Republicans Falling Into the Same 2016 Trump Trap

For an alternative viewpoint, see: “Counterpoint: Not a 2016 Rerun–Trump Is a One-Trick Pony.”

A large field of qualified candidates is setting up the Republican primaries for a repeat of 2016.

No one expected political neophyte Donald Trump to suck up all of the oxygen in the 2016 Republican primaries when the party had one of the most qualified slates of candidates in recent memory. Sitting U.S. senators, popular current and former governors from important swing states, and a former CEO of a major company all shared the debate stage with Trump, and most expected their experience to rise above his media presence.

But experience as a legislator or executive didn’t matter. A long history of promoting Republican principles didn’t matter. Even ethical norms that have previously been well-established were out the window.

Trump masterfully harnessed the 24-hour news cycle and his Twitter prowess to control the narrative. While other candidates presented policy ideas, like Sen. Marco Rubio’s gas tax reduction or Gov. John Kasich’s prescient focus on banking regulations, their messages were drowned out.

Why did policy positions matter so little in 2016? The primaries became a nationwide reckoning, a moment when frustrated Americans sought a fighter who would demolish the broken system instead of merely applying Band-Aids. People craved radical change as the American dream crumbled, and the policy-focused candidates could only offer incremental solutions.

So here we are, on the cusp of another raucous primary season. What’s different this time? Some argue that Trump’s loss in 2020 and questions about his electability have opened the field. Others point to rising stars like Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott as genuine potential contenders. Then there are the potential legal entanglements that might throw a wrench into Trump’s plans. And he’s no longer on Twitter, making it harder for him to dominate the news cycle.

However, let’s not forget that nobody believed Trump could win in 2016, and we all know how that turned out. Back then, stellar candidates with exceptional qualities ultimately fell short. Even more recently, Trump experienced a boost in polling after his indictment.

None of these factors fundamentally alter the dynamics of the furious voters who propelled Trump to victory before. And people are still unhappy. Fewer than 25 percent believe the country is on the right track, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

So where does this leave the other candidates?

If candidates try to out-Trump Trump, they fail. See Rubio’s “small hands” incident. Attacking him head-on has never proven to be an effective strategy. It has the added risk of turning off likely Trump voters — of which there are many.

Sadly, focusing on policy prescriptions is an exercise in futility. While there are indeed individuals who care about these issues, the ideas often go unheard amid the noise of the political landscape.

The 2016 primaries were by controversial statements, viral moments and media dramas overshadowing policy discussions. In the era of social media and 24/7 news coverage, the 2024 primaries will probably experience similar dynamics, favoring candidates who thrive in a chaotic and attention-seeking environment, which obviously tilts the race in favor of Trump.

This puts the other candidates in an impossible, unwinnable position.

The only way to avoid repeating 2016 is a numbers game. If there are still five or six candidates in the Iowa Caucus, the “never-Trump” voters will be spread out among the other candidates, making it impossible for someone else to come out on top. With a couple of quick victories in the early states, the sense of inevitability will swell, propelling the front-runner Trump toward the nomination.

Even if it were a one-on-one race, polling suggests that most Republican voters may still support Trump.

While the future remains uncertain, the similarities between the coming Republican primaries in 2024 and the 2016 election are too striking to ignore. A fragmented field, the enduring influence of Trump, and the party base’s motivations are all poised to shape the contest. However, as with anything related to Trump, uncertainty reigns. Anything could happen. But if I had to put my money on an outcome, it’s on history repeating itself.

DelVal Residents React to Raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate

According to reports on the incident, the unprecedented FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago this week was based on his alleged failure to turn over documents to the National Archives.

No criminal charges have been filed against the former president, and the DOJ has remained tight-lipped about its ongoing investigation. “President Trump and his legal team have been cooperative with FBI and DOJ officials every step of the way,” said Christina Bobb, one of Trump’s lawyers told CNN. 

Delaware Valley residents had mixed views of what occurred.

“We still don’t have all the facts yet. But no one is above the law. If we don’t stand by that, the whole democratic system is crushed. The DOJ and FBI had sound legal evidence that this had to be done and had every right to do it.” Alyce Bergbower, 75, of North Wales.

“There was some justification in the search, but we still don’t have all the facts. Although there was some significant evidence that there was a legitimate reason, I don’t think the federal government should be doing this. It sets a very bad precedent. It could insight anger and violence; it’s the last thing this country needs to create – more division. Nothing like this has ever happened before,” said Ambler resident Chris Crail, 30.

“The government overreacted with their power and authority. There was something shady going on here. There was no attorney present in the Trump home at the time of the executed search warrant.  So, what was the purpose?” said Cheryl Huey, 68,  of Orefield.

“I am not a fan of Trump. He has caused a lot of damage. The DOJ and FBI had enough information to get a search warrant, so everything must be legal about the search. It is not surprising that the Trump loyalists are upset, but I do believe that Trump took documents that he wasn’t supposed to take. Everybody needs to be above board on this. I want to see what happens,” said George Gibson, 70, North Wales.

The monthly meeting of the Pennridge Area Republican Club began with the “Pledge of Allegiance,” followed by a prayer for, among other things, Trump and his family.

“I’m not happy with the weaponization of the justice system,” said Bob Sellers, vice president of East Rockhill. “If they can do that to our president, they can do it to anyone.”

Chalfont resident Wendy Falzone called it “appalling.”

“I’m trying to understand. My thought is they’re trying to stop him from running in 2024,” said Falzone. “They’re afraid, and they should be. He’s got the MAGA people with him.”

Tony Arjona of Doylestown Borough said the raid on Trump’s home was “inappropriate” and “unfounded.”

“My moral gauge is, how would it have been received if President Trump raided President Obama’s house in Martha’s Vineyard?”

“I’m waiting to see what transpires,” said Travis Blomgren of Hilltown. “I’m interested to know what came of it. We’re still in the dark and don’t have many answers.”


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DelVal Residents, Pols React to Televised January 6 Committee Hearing

The House January 6 Committee staged a dramatic production Thursday evening, with opening remarks from Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). The committee is investigating the riot at the U.S. Capitol on that day when some of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building in the hopes of preventing Joe Biden’s election as president from being certified. The committee presented evidence that some sort of assault on the Capitol building was pre-planned.

However, thousands of people who came to hear Trump speak that day did not go into the Capitol. And according to witnesses, some of those who did enter the building were allowed in by the Capitol Police.

Meanwhile, critics have noted the committee did not present evidence of potential Democratic missteps, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi turning down an offer of National Guard troops made prior to January 6.

Critics also fault the composition of the committee, which has only two Republicans, both of whom voted to impeach Trump.

Area residents and politicians shared their reactions to the hearing, which was produced by a former ABC News president.

“Rep. Cheney’s leadership, courage, and patriotism stand in stark contrast to the silence of GOP leadership and candidates,” Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) said on Twitter. Cheney gave the opening remarks at the hearing.

“The country needs to move on, and the Democrats need to stop milking a one-day mistake into a national crisis. Let’s start working on the economy, stupid,” said George Bochetto, a Philadelphia lawyer and Republican who ran for U.S. Senate.

John Featherman, a Republican who ran for mayor of Philadelphia, said, “The Jan. 6 hearing dominated the airwaves in Philadelphia, especially since many Pennsylvania-based alleged insurgents had their names and roles come up on the first day of the hearing. Not surprisingly, many minds in Philly are already made up along political lines.”

“I believe anyone who broke the law on January 6th or at any other time should face the consequences of their actions. But instead of hiring a TV producer to manage these hearings, the out-of-touch left should focus on how much their failed woke agenda is hurting working-class families,” said Christian Nascimento, a Republican businessman running for Congress against Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery). Dean did not respond to a request for comment.

The Democrats’ “policies are so bad that they’ve resorted to producing season 8 of the West Wing!” Nascimento quipped.

Coatesville resident Bryan Armentrout said on Facebook, “Nancy Pelosi gets her husband out of a DUI. Adam Schiff is a proven liar. Why are we waiting until now to start to televise these things? They’ve been going on for months now….. Oh yeah, general election is on the way and everything is worse than it was….They ALL do the same thing. Term limits and eliminate the career politician. Citizens should serve the public for a little time and then return to their regular life. Not occupy Congress for three or four decades and pad their bank accounts,” Armentrout wrote.

Philadelphian Elliott Tessler said, “I loved it. Absolutely. It was exposed as a hatchet job. That’s all it was. The way the situation was set up with the moderator, (Rep.) Bennie Thompson, delivering a prosecutorial opening statement. I mean it was such a bald-faced lack of objectivity and integrity that I just loved it.

“I also loved (Rep.) Liz Cheney’s remark that the plans for the riot preceded Trump’s speech. So that takes him off the hook.

“Also, when it becomes known, and I don’t see how they can suppress, that Trump volunteered 20,000 National Guardsmen to maintain security and Pelosi and the Washington D.C. mayor refused, how can you say the guy fomented an insurrection? If he’s the one that offered the manpower to prevent (it)?”

Some 19 million Americans watched the live coverage carried on at least six broadcast and cable news networks. The notable exception was Fox News, which carried it on its Fox Business channel instead. Still, some Delaware Valley residents chose not to watch.

“I have literally tuned out politics,” said Leslie Morgan, a Wayne resident. “I have found it so disturbing, the direction of the country. I am now just tuned into watching tennis, even the minor tournaments.”


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