On 1/20/2021, just an hour before Biden’s inauguration, Ben Shapiro tweeted out the following statement:
We are approximately one hour from the media turning from “Trump is the worst person who has ever lived” to “[FILL IN THE BLANK 2024 COMPETITIVE REPUBLICAN] is even worse than Trump. I mean, at least Trump [FILL IN THE BLANK].”
Shapiro is right that many Democrats will likely do this — hell, I’ve done it before. I remember a few years back (I think this was around March 2019) I told my father that “at least Nixon” did something or other. He couldn’t believe I said that, not because I was wrong, but because I was right. When he was growing up, Nixon was the ultimate evil (he was, remember, the President so corrupt he had to resign to avoid being removed) and the idea that a President could be worse than him was unthinkable.
Of course, Trump is not the first Republican President to get the label of “worse than Nixon.” The well known Nixon hater Hunter S. Thompson (who once said not getting on Nixon’s enemy list was his biggest disappointment) said this just before the 2004 Election:
[Richard] Nixon was a professional politician, and I despised everything he stood for — but if he were running for president this year against the evil Bush–Cheney gang, I would happily vote for him.
Is this a contradiction of Thompson’s many years of anti-Nixon content (which is what got him famous in the first place)? Only if he called Nixon the biggest evil to exist, that ever has existed, and that ever will exist — which, to my knowledge, he never did. Even in his coverage of the 1972 Democratic Primary, he said that if Hubert Humphrey (“a treacherous, gutless old ward-heeler who should be put in a goddamn bottle and sent out with the Japanese current.”) were to get the nomination, he would vote for Richard Nixon in the general.
This is a bit of a different topic, but during the primary we heard all this talk about “blue no matter who.” In truth, nobody is “blue no matter who.” To borrow an example from the YouTuber Shaun, if David Duke ran as a Democrat and got the nomination, as he tried to do in 1988, nobody would be “blue no matter who.”
As it stands, there were people in the Democratic Primary I would have voted Trump over. If Michael Bloomberg was the Democratic Nomination, I could see myself endorsing Trump. Even in 2016, I was not on the train of calling Donald Trump the worst person the Republicans could have put up. I believe Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz would all have been worse Presidents than Donald Trump. I have argued in the past that if it weren’t for COVID-19, George W. Bush would have still been a worse President than Donald Trump — and I believe that on foreign policy Bush was much worse than Trump was.
Looking at the loud months being talked about for 2024, I can point to many I know would be worse than Donald Trump. Jim Jordan, Ron DeSantis, Josh Hawley, and the aforementioned Ted Cruz would all be worse Presidents than Donald Trump. Considering I have been a vocal critic of Donald Trump, is this hypocritical of me? No, because I have never once called Donald Trump the worst evil that will ever exist in human history.
Early on in the Trump administration, you saw all these liberals talking about how George W. Bush “wasn’t so bad in hindsight.” While I agree much of that was awful, I didn’t find it awful because they said Trump was a worse President than Bush — but because some of them were acting as if Bush were good. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that he missed the Bush administration because of Trump — that’s more than a simple comparison, that’s an outright endorsement. That crosses a line in my mind, and it is a genuine grift — however, not everybody saying this is a grifter, sometimes they’re making a comparison.
Honestly, what worries me more than anything is not that we’ll jump the shark and hate politicians too much, but instead that liberals and the left will conclude that Trump was a unquiet evil and the fight against fascism is over. This is a mistake the left made with Nixon and later Bush — I do not want to live through that mistake a third time.
To end with, I give you a tweet from @JoshuaPotash:
The next fascist will be smarter and better looking and more polite. Our job is not to wait for them to run for office and beat them, but to enact systemic change that makes them unviable.