Despite the hopes of the Democrats, there is no one who will be able to defeat Donald Trump in the Presidential election of 2020. This observation should be incontrovertible: a Trump-killer cannot exist as he was not elected on policy, but on personality (as in “cult of”). Remember Tom Tancredo? A decade ago, he pitched what Trump is selling, but even as recently as 2018, no one was buying. In the motley collection of charlatans and mountebanks that pass for the Democratic presidential hopefuls, there is no one who can serve as a ideological banner to hoist that the living Rorschach inkblot of a man, Donald Trump, could for the white working class. Even if one wanted to, he or she could not, as the ascension of Trump was as much the product of a very specific set of circumstances as much as any charisma he may possess. Indeed, in this case, Democrats should take notes from we Libertarians in that the best they can hope for in the upcoming election is a protest vote.
Having noted the uniqueness of Trump, the question of 2024 looms large: Who is capable of carrying Trump’s banner? Just as Hillary Clinton wasn’t able to hold together the coalition of voters that Barack Obama commanded, it is highly improbable that Mike Pence, if he chooses to run, will be able to draw the number of voters from the varied demographics that found their avatar in Trump. Again, remember that policy doesn’t come into play – whether or not we see a continuation of the Nu-GOP populist platform or a return to the quasi-free trade imperialism of the neo-conservatives, there is no one who could fill the role that Trump plays in the national epic narrative that unfolds before us with each social media post. At best, Donald Trump Jr. could perhaps pull it off – though, with the exception of the most die hard MAGA-ots, the typical American has shown a distaste for dynasty politics in the presidential arena (Jeb?). Indeed, a son being elected after his father would be unprecedented.
Leaving aside speculation of father passing the baton to son (or daughter?), it is safe to say that Trump will be leaving a vacuum behind for Republicans in 2024 that could be filled by whichever Democratic candidate successfully gains cult status with enough of Generations X, Y, and Z. (As an aside, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez turns 35 on Sunday, October 13th, 2024.) Regardless of who fills that role, the Republicans will eventually be forced to answer if 2016 was worth, not only their souls, but 2024 and beyond.