By Myra Adams – RealClearPolitics contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics Oct. 21, 2021

Question: How did a campaign rally near Richmond, Va., attended by approximately 450 people, generate nearly a week’s worth of national media attention and potentially impact a closely watched gubernatorial race?

Answer: The Oct. 13 rally in the town of Glen Allen had offered MAGA  political red meat starring Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. They energized Trump-loyal voters about Virginia’s Nov. 2 bellwether election between Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The candidates are in a statistical dead heat with the outcome having implications for the 2022 midterm elections.

But capturing most of the press attention was the flag used at the gathering’s Pledge of Allegiance, a banner the emcee told the audience had been “carried at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on Jan. 6.”

Who had the clout to sponsor and organize this convergence of simmering national hot-button issues and featuring the two leading MAGA provocateurs —  causing such a media uproar?

The answer is John Fredericks, a central Virginia radio talk-show host who owns and operates five stations. He bills himself as a “conservative talk radio host, media guru, and patriotic voice for America.”

Having known John since 2011, I wrote last year about his growing influence as a longtime Trump cheerleader and station owner. Thus, I was not surprised to hear that he hosted the newsmaking rally; this week, I emailed him several questions about it.

Topic A was the controversial Pledge of Allegiance to the Jan. 6 flag, which McAuliffe had been quick to denounce. John replied with a viewpoint that differed substantially from the event video, writing that he “stands by” the following statement from emcee Martha Boneta: “The American Flag at last night’s rally was in a bus tour and was never at a rally or never near the Capitol on January 6. Anyone saying anything differently is LYING. Terry McAuliffe is a stone-cold liar — desperate because he is losing — and he is LYING about the American Flag, just like he lies about his dismal record.”

I responded, “But Martha clearly said the flag was ‘carried” at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally.’ ”

After several email volleys, John called. He was agitated about the controversy and admitted that Martha misspoke at his Oct. 13 event. Referring to the U.S. Capitol protest and Trump’s rally that preceded it, he said, “The truth is that the flag was not at any rally, ever.”

Nonetheless, Glenn Youngkin — who did not attend the Glen Allen rally — had felt the media heat. The day after the event, he issued a statement:

“It is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6. As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on January 6 was sickening and wrong.”

Youngkin is a successful businessman who has never held elective office. However, he has yet to invite Trump to join him on the campaign trail even though the former president heartily endorsed Youngkin when Trump phoned in to address the rally.

McAuliffe turned Trump’s “gift” endorsement into a TV spot.  Previously, while hammering his anti-Trump theme, McAuliffe had sent an email blast with the subject line: “Terry McAuliffe Needs You to Stop Trumpism in Virginia.”

Overall, Fredericks was pleased with the media attention his rally generated under the invitation to “Take Back Virginia” — even though the national press gleefully reported that the Republican gubernatorial nominee wasn’t present.

“This event was never about Glenn Youngkin — he didn’t need to attend. This was our event about rallying the Trump base who did not show up in Virginia in 2017, 2018, or 2019. They need to show up in 2021 to win,” John wrote in an email.

Some speakers, such as state Sen. Amanda Chase, had warned earlier on John’s show, “I know how they’re stealing elections, and we’re not gonna let that happen this year.”

Rally attendees also heard the usual repeated claims that Trump won in 2020 (including by the former president himself), while Bannon predicted that Trump would return to the White House in 2024. In fact, the latest Quinnipiac poll found 78% of Republicans want him to run again.

Bannon — a big name draw at the rally — is a business associate of Fredericks, whose radio network founded and hosts his popular show, “War Room.” Since that program often makes news, I asked John about its success.

“Steve Bannon’s War Room is the most-watched and listened to live broadcast in America today,” he replied. “His total audience has surpassed 100 million downloads worldwide. I had the opportunity to be the founder of Steve’s War Room show two years ago. I was Trump’s chairman of his Virginia campaigns in 2016 and 2020 and got to know [Bannon] when he was chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016. He inspired me.”

On Thursday, Bannon was found in criminal contempt of Congress by a vote of 229-202. He had refused to comply with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — guaranteeing even higher ratings and more downloads as “War Room” wages war over that legal battle. 

How did Fredericks’ once fledging talk-radio career pull him into the orbit of two mega-MAGA figures?

The trajectory started on June 1, 2015, when Fredericks predicted on air that Donald Trump would be the 45th president of the United States. Then, two weeks later, Trump famously descended that gold escalator, launching his campaign and changing America’s political landscape.

Fredericks had, and continues to have, the former president on his show. And, as mentioned earlier, he held leadership roles in Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns. Doing so, Fredericks broke new ground as a regional media figure who openly engages in high-level partisan politics outside of the studio.

But sometimes, Trump does not make life easy for even his most ardent supporters. For example, on the day of Glen Allen rally, Trump released the following controversial statement:

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”

In John’s email to me, he wrote what sounded like pushback against that sentiment, at least as it pertains to Virginia’s election on Nov. 2: “We want our MAGA supporters to turn out in record numbers to vote and to get involved as poll watchers, election officials, door knockers, phone callers, and everything else they can do to help Youngkin win in Virginia.”

He also reiterated his support for the GOP candidate:

“Glenn Youngkin is generating tremendous excitement in our Trump base because he is organizing the greatest game-day election integrity operation in history. This is also being coordinated with the RNC, and it will ensure a free and fair election where every legitimate and legal vote is counted, and illegal votes are not counted. This voter integrity model will serve as a state-by-state blueprint for the midterms.”

Then I asked, “If Youngkin loses to McAuliffe, does that mean the election was stolen?”

“It depends on what the Glenn Youngkin campaign and the RNC says. Let’s see what happens — Youngkin has done everything humanly possible to ensure that the election is not stolen,” he replied.

John Fredericks is a unique talk show talent/media owner/activist who believes that Trumpism will outlast Trump. “It’s a movement, not a personality,” he explained. “It will endure with new leaders who authentically embrace the core tenets of America First and put America’s workers first.”

When I asked John about his own future, he insisted that he “outworks everyone,” provides “excellent return on investment to his advertisers,” and “plans for future station acquisition.”

“My audience,” he continued, “is growing exponentially because good, bad or ugly, I tell the truth and the truth will set you free. I am the Godzilla of Truth in America.”


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Oct. 14, 2021

Recently, I asked a Trump-supporting friend from Georgia if he thought our nation was doomed with President Biden at the helm. Using a Titanic analogy, he answered, “We’ve already hit the iceberg, and now we’re running for the lifeboats.” Then he added, “I would take Trump back in office five times over Biden,” but admitted, “I personally don’t like Trump and prefer he step aside for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.”

Based on my friend’s demographic profile, I consider him a one-person focus group reacting to layers of crises. And his pessimism is in line with new polling. The president’s 44 percent job approval rating average indicates more than just that Trump supporters are losing hope in Biden’s ability to right the ship of state.

Nonetheless, for anti-Trump and independent voters souring on Biden, remember the pendulum-swinging reason you voted for him: He was not Donald Trump. And that was before January’s violent attack and second impeachment on Capitol Hill, which made “boring Biden” even more appreciated after all the authoritative strong-man drama.

However, Biden following Trump into the White House is emblematic of a pervasive, overarching national problem that rarely makes headlines yet impacts them all — the United States has a presidential leadership crisis. 

When voters see two names at the top of the presidential ticket every four years, they shake their heads and ask: “Why can’t we do better than these two?” Raise your hand if you can relate.

Unfortunately, due to what I call a “compounded pendulum effect,” our presidential leadership crisis is on a downward swinging spiral. Although the pendulum has always swung from one president to the next, the 24/7 media and internet-era has increased polarization and intensified severity.

For example, in January 2009, George W. Bush left office with a 29 percent job approval rating average. That helps explain why the inexperienced Barack Obama was elected amid fervor for hope and change.

Then Obama in 2016, plagued by a perception of weak leadership, backed the unlikable but experienced Hillary Clinton with her truthful but unstated campaign message — “it’s my turn to be president.” But her dreams were unexpectedly thwarted by a burger n’ fries eating “everyman” celebrity billionaire named Donald J. Trump. He was the political and intellectual polar opposite of both Clinton and Obama with his rally message of “Make America Great Again” and “build the wall!” on repeat play.

That brings us to the 2020 election in the uber-polarized Divided States of America. An era in which everyone only watches and reads news and information they agree with and share through their phones on social media. That climate propelled the COVID-pandemic-election pendulum to swing from Trump to an “adult” place-holder president whose go-to leadership line is “C’mon man.” 

The Biden vs. Trump choice – among the worst “hold your nose” moments in American history – motivated a record turnout of 155 million voters.

Thus, nine months into his term, is anyone surprised that President Biden – who will celebrate his 79th birthday in November – is turning out to be among our weakest presidents? During his 36 years as a U.S. senator, followed by eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden was never a stand-out leader. And, today, if not for Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) endorsement in the 2020 South Carolina presidential primary, Joe Biden would be painting with Hunter Biden at his Delaware beach house.

Looking ahead to 2024, we have the makings of potentially the greatest modern presidential leadership crisis at the most perilous time. Pay close attention to China’s aggressive military moves toward Taiwan. Chinese communist leaders have set their sights on taking back the island and controlling the world’s leading manufacturer of semiconductor chips. That means the U.S. economy could be brought to its knees since the American share of global chip manufacturing capacity has “fallen to 12 percent,” according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. It is only a matter of time until this Taiwan/China conflict comes to a head, and practically every item you touch and depend on is impacted.

Is there a U.S. leader now or on the horizon who could navigate our nation through such a global economic catastrophe? Names, please.

he very definition of a leadership crisis would be if the American people had to choose between Biden and Trump in 2024. Could the pendulum swing from Trump to Biden back to Trump? Hill pundits argue how Biden’s “train-wreck” could elect Trump 2.0  — resulting in authoritarian rule with no guardrails.

Even Biden’s ever-shrinking, nearly-forgotten vice president, Kamala Harris, has an underwater job approval rating of 42 percent, with 51 percent unfavorable.

Could she win Biden’s second term if he were to step down? Can you imagine a Harris vs. Trump race? The winner would take our nation from leadership crisis to leadership apocalypse.

Now ask yourself two big-picture questions: Is America ungovernable and incapable of being led? How can anyone lead when half the population refuses to follow?

Our enemies know the answers.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.

TAGS: 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN DONALD J. TRUMP JOE BIDEN KAMALA HARRIS HILLARY CLINTON DONALD TRUMP BARACK OBAMA RON DESANTIS PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION JOE BIDEN PRESIDENCY AMERICAN LEADERSHIP


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Sept. 30, 2021

When Time magazine’s Feb.18, 2013 cover featured then-41-year-old Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the declarative headline read: “The Republican Savior: How Marco Rubio became the new voice of the GOP.”

That headline – with a photo showcasing Rubio’s boyish yet statesman-like look – cast him as the Republican Party leader for a new generation. Moreover, Rubio’s name was phonetically linked to “rising-young-star” while he led the GOP’s charge on immigration reform.

Strategists and pundits discussed whether Rubio was the party’s Hispanic answer to President Obama. After all, the same week Rubio appeared on Time’s cover, he gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address. (Mostly remembered for his ill-timed gulp of water followed by ridicule.)

Fast forward eight years to last week’s Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, in which Rubio’s “new voice” and “Republican Savior” monikers have not aged well. At age 50, he languishes at the bottom of his party’s 2024 presidential prospects list — supported by just 3 percent of Republican voters.

So, what happened to Marco Rubio, the GOP’s “new leader for the next generation”?

No slouch by any standard, he is a respected senior senator from the nation’s third most populous state and known for foreign policy expertise. In 2022, he will vie for his third term and likely will prevail against Rep. Val Demings — but only after a tough, expensive fight. How expensive? In June, a FOX News headline read: “Rubio-Demings 2022 showdown could become most expensive Senate race ever.” That means Democrats think Rubio is beatable, and in politics, perception is reality.

What contributed to his “downfall”? One argument is that Rubio peaked too early and prematurely reacted to media hype. Then in 2015 – beginning in the fourth year of his first six-year term – Rubio contracted a severe case of “Potomac Fever,” a contagious yet common Senate disease. The fever deluded him into thinking he could be Obama’s successor.

Predictably, Rubio struggled throughout the 2016 primary season and dropped out on March 15, after winning only 27 percent of Florida primary voters compared to 46 percent for Donald Trump. 

Rubio’s embarrassing and career-altering campaign never gained traction. It was plagued by bad political timing and conflict with Trump, who effectively reduced Rubio to “Little Marco” — permanently popping his “Republican Savior” balloon.

Humiliated by his presidential run, on March 17, 2016, Rubio declared, “I’m not running for re-election to the Senate.” Nevertheless, two days before the June 24 deadline, he filed for reelection, saying, “I changed my mind.”

Ironically one of the five primary candidates fighting for Rubio’s then-open seat was a little-known, young, two-term congressman from the Daytona Beach area named Ron DeSantis. He promptly went back to his 6th District and won reelection but whet his appetite for statewide office.

In November 2016, Rubio retained his Senate seat with only 52 percent of the vote against a lackluster Democrat named Patrick Murphy. Trump, at the top of the ticket, won the state by only 1.2 percentage points.

As we head into the 2022 election cycle, Rubio has carved out a lane of national and Senate respectability. But the early momentum from his 2013 glory days is lost because the Republican Party and Tea Party wing that first elected him in 2010 has radically changed. Rubio belongs to the Trumplican Party now but is not considered a true MAGA-hat-wearing believer.

Politically speaking, the two-term senator is smothered by Gov. DeSantis, who is smothered by former President Trump. Loyalty to Trump is the only standard that seems to matter. And Trumplicans, especially those in Florida, know the difference between true believers and those who pretend because they have no choice.

Rubio’s last chapter hasn’t been written. Born in 1971, he could be a factor in presidential cycles for at least two more decades. Rubio could be perceived as a moderate, compromise candidate when the Trump era ends. Moreover, serving for decades, he could become a “lion of the Senate” — even majority leader someday.

Then perhaps when Rubio is in his late 60s, some young GOP presidential candidate might pluck him from the Senate and choose him to be his running mate — adding gravitas and foreign policy experience to a national winning ticket.  

In the end, Rubio is a man of great faith who often tweets Bible verses. And this once so-called “Republican Savior” knows that His Savior was humiliated and defeated by his people, but ultimately resurrected.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.TAGS 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MARCO RUBIO RON DESANTIS DONALD J. TRUMP PATRICK MURPHY DONALD TRUMP BARACK OBAMA VAL DEMINGS FLORIDA REPUBLICANS


By Myra Adams – RealClearPolitics contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – Sept 25, 2021

If the 2022 midterm elections had an official soundtrack, it would be the ominous music from the 1975 movie “Jaws.”  

Although the election is 13 months away, mounting intensity feels like great white sharks are circling our national boat with a convergence of two powerful, never-before-seen political forces. Both forces are hangovers from the 2020 election with the potential to make the 2022 midterms the most tumultuous in modern American history.

The first force is the growing lack of voter confidence in our election system. Second, is the looming presence of Donald J. Trump, a one-term, twice-impeached human lightning rod who is still the de facto leader of the Republican Party. No former president in history has ever injected himself into the midterms to this degree, and certainly not in the primary process.

Curious about Matt Schlapp’s take on these two forces, I reached out to the high-profile chairman of the American Conservative Union. An ardent Trump supporter, Schlapp is one of the nation’s most influential non-office-holding Republicans and, as host of CPAC, he leads a mighty MAGA army.

It’s clear that he, like the titular head of that army, has not really accepted the 2020 voting results.

“Having a big question mark over a presidential election is bad for democracy,” Schlapp said. “We should know who won. And one of the ways we will know is if we all follow the same rules. We have to get back to voting the way we did in 2016. Will the Democrats try to pull the same shenanigans next year? I do know this: The American people are outraged over the Democratic agenda, and if we vote fairly, they are going to get shellacked.”

There is a history of new presidents getting “shellacked” in their first midterm election, with their party losing control of the House, Senate, or both. In 2010, President Obama used “shellacking” to describe his first, monumental midterm defeat when Republicans won control of the House with a net gain of 63 seats — a number not achieved since 1948. Surely, then-Vice President Joe Biden remembers that repudiation.

Perhaps the most stunning midterm defeat was Bill Clinton’s in 1994. Forty-two years had elapsed since Republicans had won complete control of Capitol Hill. The architect of that remarkable victory netting the GOP 54 House and eight Senate seats was Newt Gingrich, who ascended to speaker of the House.

I emailed Gingrich, asking if 2022 had the makings of a GOP victory on par with 1994.

“If Republicans can discipline themselves to consistently describe Democrats as ‘big government socialists’ and the $3.5 trillion spending and $3 trillion tax increase as big government socialist bills — it is, after all, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill — I think we can win a massive victory in both the House and Senate next year,” Gingrich answered.

I also asked Schlapp to weigh in on the prospects of a 1994-scale victory. He happily took the bait.

“Guaranteed!” said. “Unless we don’t have the courage to stand up against the cheating. If not, then it will be more mixed. If the left understands that we are going to go to the barricades to make sure that the cheating is exposed, then I think their agenda will be rejected.”

Then, after outlining Biden’s liberal-left agenda, Schlapp declared, “When people understand the policies of socialism, they reject it in this country.”

Regarding Trump, the former president’s engagement in the midterms is a force to be reckoned with for both parties. I asked Schlapp if Trump’s involvement was a winning  strategy for the GOP.

“I think President Trump is doing the right thing to spend his time and money making sure that we win as many Senate and congressional seats as possible, and I applaud him for doing that,” he replied. “In the past, he has been accused of not spending as much time on these midterm races. Now he is committed to doing so, and he will help us win lots of seats with those efforts.”

Then I asked Schlapp, “If the Republicans do well in 2022, will Trump take credit? And if they don’t, will Trump say it’s because his name was not on the ballot? With either outcome, is he going to see it his way?” Schlapp parried that point.

“If the Republicans, with so much promise, end up doing poorly in the midterms, I think it would probably have a negative impact on President Trump’s thinking about running [in 2024],” he said. “The Democrats have never embraced this type of radical policy agenda. And if that turns out to be popular with the American people, I think it’s going to be very discouraging for Republicans. I don’t think the chances of that are very high, but I am willing to entertain the premise.”

However, if the 2022 midterms go well for the GOP and Trump decides to run, I asked Schlapp if he thought Trump would have primary opposition or be crowned the nominee without a fight. He told me:

“I think Trump will have primary opponents, a lane of never-Trump, and don’t know how many there will be. President Trump should want these opponents because he is much better in the ring when competing against somebody. I don’t know if I can see him just getting coronated. I don’t know how he would react to that — he is so used to fighting! But Trump will be a better candidate if he has to take someone on immediately. I believe primaries can be a good thing.”

Then Schlapp proclaimed, “If Trump runs again, he is essentially the incumbent.”

In the meantime, cue the ominous shark-circling-in-the-water music. With voter’s lack of trust in our election system, Trump at center stage, Democrats in disarray, redistricting court battles looming, Biden failing fast, and all the collective pandemic, economic, and cultural angst in our nation, I’m reminded of the most famous line from “Jaws” as the 2022 midterm approaches: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”


By Myra Adams – RealClearPolitics contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – Sept. 10, 2021

No incumbent or former U.S. president had ever inspired fan clubs until Donald J. Trump came along. Faithful MAGA voters motivated by a combination of the former president’s policies, his in-your-face attitude, and personal magnetism banded together in his name and formed numerous “Trump clubs”— most notably in Florida.

“Trump brought with him new energy and new people — many completely distrusted the established Republican hierarchy,” explains early Trump associate and supporter Roger Stone. “That distrust led to the birth of Trump clubs from the Georgia state line to the tip of Key West. And currently, in virtually every Florida county, the Trump club is larger, more inclusive, active, and more enthusiastic than the local Republican Party.”

Sprinkled across the nation and known by various names, Trump clubs operate independently and are not affiliated with the GOP. However, the vast majority of participants are Republicans. The nation’s largest and most influential Trump club — officially named “Club 45 USA” — is based in Florida’s Palm Beach County, home of the 45th president, who resides at the Mar-a-Lago Club.

Club 45’s website boasts of “meeting attendance often exceeding 2,000 people.” The group was founded in 2018 by Joe Budd, who also serves as president. Budd’s four-member board includes three top-tier Palm Beach County Republican Party power brokers who, in either 2016 or 2020, were county chairs or co-chairs for the Trump campaign.

Budd himself holds an elected GOP title as Palm Beach County state committeeman and is on the board of the Republican Party of Florida. Thus, although not directly affiliated, Club 45 and the GOP are closely aligned. Via email, when I asked Budd if his flourishing organization has tapped into a movement and, if so, what is that movement, he replied, “The Trump agenda of Making and Keeping America Great!”

Tangential to that answer is Budd’s relationship with the former president. I inquired if he knows what Trump thinks of the club. Via email, Budd replied: “The President called me and personally congratulated me for the success of the club. I’ve spoken to him about it a couple of times.”

I expected Budd’s answer, having seen Facebook postings by his board members for the past four years. Whenever Air Force One landed at Palm Beach airport, Budd’s high command greeted the president “on the tarmac and drove in the motorcade,” he confirmed.  When I asked if he considers Club 45 USA “a Trump fan club,” he said, simply, “Yes.”

A political insider who has attended club meetings but asked to remain anonymous shared his impressions: “I got a sense that attendees felt they were in a safe space having so many like-minded people around them. They reminded me of fans at a sports event rallying around the home team. No matter what anyone said from the lectern was followed by applause and cheers.”

And now, Club 45 USA’s fall season begins. This week I received an email touting the speakers at the next three events — all of whom are Fox News Channel regulars. The Sept. 13 gathering features Bernie Kerik, the New York City police commissioner when the 9/11 attacks occurred. October brings the “King of CPAC” Matt Schlapp and wife Mercedes, who was a Trump campaign official and former White House director of strategic communications. November’s guest is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who told me, “I do not know anything about them except they seem to draw a nice crowd”).

Testifying to the club’s clout are past speakers, The roster includes A-list Trump World stars such as Rep. Jim Jordan, Corey Lewandowski, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, and Fox News’ Dan Bongino, whose appearance “sold out in 15 minutes,” exclaimed Budd. His list continued with David Bossie, Roger Stone (three times), Sebastian Gorka, James O’Keefe, Florida Reps. Michael Waltz and Byron Donalds. When Ron DeSantis was a gubernatorial candidate in 2018, he addressed the group. 

Speaking of the Florida governor, his name was mentioned when I posed this question to Budd: “Is the club set up to continue after Trump leaves the political scene? In other words, will Trumpism outlast Trump?” He replied, “Yes, currently, our mission is the [2022] re-election of Gov. DeSantis.”

Then, Budd’s comments got immensely interesting. First, I inquired if his regular attendees want Trump to run again in 2024. He answered, “I think a lot of our attendees would love to see President Trump run again.” No surprise there, based on polling. Then I asked, “Do you think Trump and DeSantis might clash for the GOP nomination in 2024?” – and I was shocked by Budd’s honest, unfiltered answer:

“No. I personally don’t think the President will run again. I believe the President will be satisfied with his role as kingmaker and throw his full support behind Governor DeSantis. If it weren’t for President Trump, DeSantis would have had a very hard time defeating Adam Putnam [in the gubernatorial primary]. The polls completely flipped in DeSantis’s favor when the endorsement came out. President Trump knows by experience who the swamp people are, and he knows Governor DeSantis isn’t one of them. The President can rest comfortably knowing DeSantis will fully represent the Trump agenda.”

Budd’s answer came the day after this Politico headline appeared: “Trump builds ‘turnkey’ campaign operation for 2024.” The report elaborated that the former president “is signaling a heightened interest in a rematch with Joe Biden — and laying the necessary groundwork.”

Some intense future conversations may be in store between Budd and the former president, who the club leader thinks will speak to his club “this winter season” since “his advance team has scouted our venue at least twice.” 

Surely that meeting will sell out instantly, beating Bongino’s 15-minute record. However, Budd’s belief that “Trump will be satisfied with his role as kingmaker” contradicts Trump’s well-established nature of never taking a backseat to anyone.

But if DeSantis ascends, the club logo would likely have to change. Trump’s face appears within a shield framed by a flag motif with “Club 45 USA” underneath and “MAGA” at the bottom. Budd’s updated logo might read “Club 47 USA.”

In the leader’s opinion, DeSantis may “fully represent the Trump agenda,” but the Trump club’s banner-waving, red-hat-wearing fans who attend each month to hoop and holler in a “safe space” with “like-minded people” know there is only one true MAGA-man.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Sept. 1, 2021

As the Biden administration falters, it is prime time for former President Trump  to rally the MAGA-faithful contrasting Biden’s “weakness” with Trump’s “strength.” The Hill reported that Trump is planning rallies in Georgia and Iowa. Both events will offer Trump a boisterous platform to repeat his nearly daily calls for Biden to resign, prompted by the Afghanistan debacle.

Symbolically a Trump rally in Iowa – where the nation’s first 2024 nominating contest is held – helps dispel the notion that the former president is only flirting with a second attempt to win his second term in order to stay relevant. More evidence: Trump’s Save America PAC recently hired two Iowa-based political consultants. 

But is Trump being realistic about 2024? The answer is yes, based on what an elderly Trump supporter told me last week that could be a representative feeling: “I have never feared for my country more than I do now. Bring back Trump!”

Undoubtedly his rallies will reinforce the current Republican Party branding message repeated hourly in the  conservative media bubble: Biden is in mental decline. He can’t handle multiple crises and has lost situational control. Opinion is truth for loyal viewers and readers who feed off that circular media diet, where distinguishing truth from spin is nearly impossible. (A statement that applies equally to the left.)

Although the former president appears ready to lead the Republican Party to a 2024 victory, he lacks a majority of base support and could tear the party apart. Let’s examine some recent polling data supporting that fear.

In July, Tony Fabrizio (Trump’s 2016 campaign pollster) surveyed 800 registered Republicans, asking who they would vote for if the GOP presidential primary were held today. The results of this normally meaningless way-to-early question provided a revealing snapshot of future party leadership.

As expected, two names thoroughly dominated: Trump won 47 percent, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earned 19 percent. Interestingly, the 13 percent who were “undecided” exceeded the 8 percent who chose former Vice President Mike Pence and the paltry 3 percent supporting Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attracted just 2 percent, but double the 1 percent earned by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

With Trump stealing much of the thunder from DeSantis, the poll does not reflect base voters’ high expectations and enthusiasm for the 43-year-old governor, a rising national star.

Never in my decades of Republican Party involvement have I seen an officeholder so early in the presidential cycle elicit such unified hope for the party’s future. DeSantis’s “it factor” reminds me of the early hope and change that young Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) inspired among Democrats.

Fabrizio’s poll captures some of DeSantis’s popularity. Without Trump on the list, he wins 39 percent of GOP voters, walloping Pence at 15 percent, who is eclipsed by 20 percent “undecided.”

Most significant is how the Fox News Channel seems to have anointed DeSantis as Trump’s heir apparent while reducing the former president’s screentime.

Given the combined 66 percent of GOP voters who chose either Trump or DeSantis in Fabrizio’s poll, there is a strong assumption that one of these two Florida men will win the Republican presidential nomination. Then again, 2024 is three years away and might as well be three centuries away because anything can happen to change the political landscape. DeSantis in particular runs the risk of peaking too early.

That said, from a GOP base perspective, even if DeSantis lost his 2022 gubernatorial reelection, he might not lose much 2024 national momentum. That’s because DeSantis would have more time to spend on the presidential primary and general election trails without concurrently having to run the pesky, unruly state of Florida.

Such a loss assessment is plausible after a recent poll showed DeSantis in a statistical deadheat with Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), a former Republican governor who first must win his Democratic primary.

Ultimately, DeSantis has the fighting personality and tough-guy image that Republican voters love about Trump. A slogan on his 2022 campaign merchandise reads, “DeSantis — “Keep Florida Free.” For 2024 that could change to “DeSantis — Keep America Free.” 

But America, DeSantis and the Republican Party are not free of Trump. A loyal GOP Trump voter from Georgia recently told me, “I wish Trump would get out of the way for DeSantis.”

More than half of GOP base voters believe that sentiment reflects the party’s past, present and future.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Aug. 20, 2021

Team Trump never rests because they know money never sleeps, even at 3:59 p.m. on a lazy Saturday in mid-August — not exactly primetime for fundraising email blasts.

Nonetheless, that was when I received an urgent appeal from Donald Trump Jr. under the official “Save America — President Donald J. Trump” logo. My political antenna says Trump uses this logo subliminally so ardent followers will think they can wish back President Trump’s “rightful” title stolen by Democrats.

But now, all Junior wants is cash. He wrote, “YOU were identified as one of my father’s TOP supporters” and “Having enough cash on hand is essential to SAVING AMERICA from Joe Biden and his liberal cronies, which is why I’ve convinced my father to EXTEND your PERSONAL 400%-IMPACT OFFER FOR 1 MORE HOUR.”

For the record, I have never donated to Trump and publicly “renounced” my long-time Republican Party membership after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Then on Sunday at 3:00 p.m., the former president invaded my inbox with the faux president title logo. Trump complained how “partners in the Fake News media and Big Tech companies are working overtime to SILENCE me. Your support could not be more important, so I’ve decided to REACTIVATE your PERSONAL 400%-IMPACT OFFER.”

One minute later, on Sunday at 3:01 p.m., an email arrived with a critical subject-line question: “Do you remember when we caught the Democrats, red-handed, spying on my campaign?” The question demanded a “yes” or “no” answer and warned, “I’ll look for your response in 5 MINUTES.” At the bottom was a stern-looking photo titled “Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States.” Seriously, Trump’s demanding tone could scare seniors into donating.

Weekend over, Trump’s Monday afternoon email proclaimed, “I’ve activated a 300%-IMPACT on ALL gifts made towards the Official Trump Rally Fund.” 

His message was the perfect opportunity to support more COVID super-spreader events with their “300%- IMPACT” on local hospitals.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Save America emails made history with Trump the first former president to call for his successor’s resignation in a fundraising blast, which read: “What Joe Biden has done with Afghanistan will go down as one of the greatest defeats in history. HE MUST RESIGN.”

And what do all these “Save America” email blasts have in common? The absence of two words — “former president.” Although the former presidents’ club is more exclusive than Mar-a-Lago, “former” signifies the past and sounds final. Thus, the word is damaging to Trump’s psyche. Worse, “former” is detrimental to fundraising hinged on future hopes that “President Donald J. Trump” can “Save America” by running and winning in 2024 — or by being reinstated.

The latter is not a joke. According to a QAnon conspiracy theory, reinstatement, believed by 30 percent of Republican voters according to one poll, was supposed to have happened on Aug.13 with the Dept. of Homeland Security on high alert.

Undoubtedly, Trump’s emails are too frequent and corny with gimmicks promoting worthless Trump credit cards resembling American Express. Still, the former president deserves credit for his effective, perpetual money machine.

How effective? On July 31, a headline in The Hill read, “Trump helps raise $56 million in first six months of 2021.”  

Money is also raised from DonaldJTrump.com with the headline, “Together, we are rebuilding our nation.” The words appear over a somber “don’t-mess-with-me” Trump face, and fans can support rebuilding by purchasing MAGA/Trump merchandise. But the meat on the site are Trump’s daily news statements.

After banishment from Twitter and Facebook, the former president’s often outrageous outbursts are tweeted by journalists and sometimes widely reported.

Trump utilizes his statement content to test the waters for future fundraising blasts, such as last Sunday night when he first issued his statement advocating that Biden “resign in disgrace.” Then, in typical Trumpian fashion, he concluded: “It [resigning] shouldn’t be a big deal, because he [Biden] wasn’t elected legitimately in the first place!”

There are two kinds of Trump messages. First, ICYMI (in case you missed it), when he links to favorable news reports or op-eds about him. Second, are statements described by four R-words:

Reacting: To a news event with the overtone, “If I were president, that would not have happened” or outright stating that sentiment as a fact.  

Revenge: Trump endorses a candidate running against an officeholder who did not support the “Big Lie” or stand with him after Jan. 6 or who voted for impeachment. With Trump, an elected official is either with him or against him; there is never any middle ground.

Railing: Against some aspect of the government, be it an officeholder, committee, legislation, Cabinet department, agency, policy or entire branch of government. Then it repeats “If I were president….” either outright or inferred.

Reminders: He won the election, but it was stolen. Trump can’t stop reminding everyone of this “fact.” For example, on Aug.16, after railing against the events in Afghanistan, he announced: “The corrupt Presidential Election of 2020 got us here. Never would have happened if I were President!” And again, on Aug. 17, he wrote that Biden was “illegitimately elected and brought great shame, in many ways, to our Country!”

The overarching analysis is that Donald Trump has no specific responsibility and is not beholden to anyone. Therefore, he is free to “lead” Republicans, flirt with 2024, raise millions and repeat “If I were president…” from the backbench without any repercussions.

Trump’s Aug.13  statement, issued on what was supposed to be “reinstatement day,” did not mention the word, but read: “Tragic mess in Afghanistan, a completely open and broken Border, Crime at record levels, oil prices through the roof, inflation rising, and taken advantage of by the entire world—DO YOU MISS ME YET?”

But how can we miss you if you won’t go away?

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


By Myra Adams – RealClearPolitics Contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics -Aug. 5, 2021

File this discussion under “Zany 40-second political ad/opposition mind-games.” That is an apt description of a web ad recently reported by Axios under the headline “ ‘Ron’s coming for you’: New ad pits DeSantis against Trump for donor dollars.”

The ad’s snarky female narrator scoffs at and demeans the former president. He is called a “loser,” “old news,” “weak,” and “pathetic” as the narrator asserts that Donald Trump is declining while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is rising — and taking Trump’s donors in the process.

Indeed, DeSantis is widely considered a GOP rising star. Republicans believe he will cruise to reelection in 2022 and is a top-tier contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. But, accusations that the governor is “taking” Trump’s donors are false, since both men have recently reported robust fundraising.

And while it is plausible that this taunting ad might incite a Trump tirade behind closed doors, its main objective is “to end Ron DeSantis’s political career” — according to Daniel Uhlfelder, the man behind the spot in a call this week with RealClearPolitics.

Uhlfelder is the controversial Florida attorney who founded Remove Ron, the political committee that financed the ad. Uhlfelder is controversial because in the spring of 2020, he made national headlines costumed as the “Grim Reaper” amid the first COVID-19 surge (more on that below).

Uhlfelder stated that since his organization started in February, “we have received $250,000 in donations from over 7,000 small contributors who keep giving.” He also said that Remove Ron has raised approximately $11,000 since its new ad was released on July 28, an amount that is “increasing daily.” The ad has nearly 67,000 views on Twitter with the message, “Donald Trump can’t stand this ad, so retweet it and ruin his day.”

Here is the provocative script:

“We tried to warn you  DON-ALD.

Ron’s coming for you  and now he’s taking your donors.

They’ve given millions more to Ron than you  DON-ALD

It’s because they know you are weak, old news, pathetic. It’s clear they don’t want to give to losers like you  DON-ALD.

How will you compete with Ron in 2024 if he wins in 2022?

He has your supporters, your merch, and your donors.

You’d better stop Ron   DON-ALD    before he stops you.”

When Uhlfelder and I discussed the strategy behind the ad, he asked, “Who is the one person on the planet who can take down DeSantis?” Uhlfelder believes the answer is Trump, who “got Ron where he is, and now Ron appears to be eclipsing Trump.” Uhlfelder explained the “ad’s purpose is clear” — to facilitate a growing divide between the two, hoping that both will implode since “either of them will damage the country.”

It’s no surprise that the Remove Ron donation platform is ActBlue  — the Democrats’ comprehensive grass-roots donor site. (The success of ActBlue prompted the Republican National Committee to launch “WinRed” in 2019.)

With the 2022 gubernatorial election centuries away in political time, Uhlfelder says his organization is “building infrastructure for its message” He adds that “our approach is both traditional and creative” — emphasis on “creative” given Uhlfelder’s flair for theatrics. As alluded to earlier, he donned a black-hooded Grim Reaper costume and walked Florida beaches when Gov. DeSantis refused to close them during the initial pandemic outbreak. Several national broadcast networks gave him publicity that he later parlayed into Remove Ron.

(Over a year later, Uhlfelder is dealing with “Grim Reaper” legal repercussions. A June Tallahassee Democrat headline read: “Judge tries to untangle case of ‘Grim Reaper’ lawyer accused of ‘unprofessional conduct.’ ”)

In February, Uhlfelder goaded the 2021 CPAC gathering in Orlando by paying for an airplane banner message proclaiming, “Welcome Insurrectionists!” (as reported by Mediaite). And in May, local television news reported that Uhlfelder again hired a plane to fly a banner, this time over an Orlando federal courthouse with the message “Tick Tock Matt Gaetz” — insinuating that the congressman would soon be charged with sex trafficking of a minor. As of this writing, Gaetz has not been charged.

With Uhlfelder’s “Grim Reaper” days behind him, his Trump/DeSantis ad campaign is keeping him and Remove Ron in the news. Four ads are linked to on the organization’s website, including the one referenced above and another released on July 1 when Trump held a rally in Sarasota.

Uhlfelder proudly said that “in only six months, the success of Remove Ron shows there is a movement of interested and concerned voters around the country” because “the Florida gubernatorial race will be the premier election of 2022, not just for Florida, but for the future of the nation.” 

Uhlfelder is convinced that DeSantis will lose, especially with his recent COVID response amid rising case numbers. He notes that “Trump winning Florida in 2020 does not mean that DeSantis will win in 2022.” Later, Uhlfelder sent me a new poll showing DeSantis’s reelection prospects could be in trouble given declining job approval ratings.

Uhlfelder circled back to Trump and predicted a clash: “Trump is motivated by power and money. DeSantis infringes upon both, and Trump has no loyalty to DeSantis.”

I asked Roger Stone to weigh in on Uhlfelder’s efforts since Stone is an expert on Trump and politics in Florida — his adopted home state. Stone replied:

“Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party at the grassroots level is both overwhelming and complete. This ham-handed effort to foment turmoil between former President Trump and Gov. DeSantis is both obvious and transparent. In truth, DeSantis cannot succeed in moving to a national leadership position in the party without the support of President Trump. And I believe that he is smart enough to know that. President Trump has raised over $100 million since leaving the White House. I seriously doubt if he is concerned about DeSantis encroaching on his fundraising capability. The bottom line on the ad: too clever by half.”

Finally, with COVID raging in Florida and DeSantis resisting mask mandates in his commitment “to keep Florida free,” I asked Uhlfelder if he is itching to don his Grim Reaper costume in the Florida summer heat to keep the “heat” on DeSantis.

“I can’t because the costume is hanging at the History Miami Museum,” he said. “They called and asked if I would donate it, so I did.”

Uhlfelder’s efforts may not impact the results of Florida’s gubernatorial election next year or who wins the GOP nomination in 2024. However, he represents today’s grassroots “anything goes” politics-as-entertainment, playing on a vast Florida stage and capturing the attention of local and national media.

Myra Adams is a media producer and writer with numerous national credits.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill on July 29, 2021

Conventional wisdom among Florida Republicans (and party loyalists across the nation) holds that Gov. Ron DeSantis will cruise to reelection on Nov. 8, 2022. Then with mission accomplished, he will ascend to the virtual 2024 presidential nomination podium a step below former President Trump, the GOP’s strongman and undisputed leader.

More conventional wisdom has Trump running again “provided he is in good health,” reportedly what he told associates back in May. If Trump bows out, DeSantis will be positioned to win the GOP’s “gold medal.”

But conventional wisdom 16 months before Election Day is often proven wrong. Even more so in a volatile swing state such as Florida, where anything can and does happen. Although it is unlikely that DeSantis will lose reelection, it is well within the realm of plausibility. Moreover, it is not hyperbole to state that there has never been a modern gubernatorial reelection with such far-reaching national consequences.

Therefore, let’s explore some variables, circumstances, election data, prevailing political winds, wild cards and unique “category five” Florida factors that could derail the current trajectory of this 42-year-old rising star often called “America’s governor” by Republicans across the land.

Mirroring Trump, DeSantis’s high national media profile among the GOP base was cultivated by frequent primetime appearances on Fox News’s most popular shows. Those appearances are also why a blinking neon target is glued to the governor’s back. Thus, when the need arose to chronicle and respond to attacks, a “DeSantis Derangement Syndrome”-named Twitter account was started and reported by Fox News.

DeSantis syndrome is expected and somewhat relished by the always-fighting governor, representing the future post-Trump Republican Party whenever Trump is dethroned, willingly steps down or passes away.

Well-established as a Trump acolyte in GOP circles, DeSantis is “Trump without the baggage.” With their futures linked together, Trump recently boasted that in 2018 when DeSantis “came out as a congressman” — running for governor while unknown statewide — “I was the first one to endorse him.”

Trump is also teasing DeSantis as a possible running mate, resulting in Trump-DeSantis 2024 merchandise delighting the MAGA base. DeSantis’s reelection, win or lose, would signal smooth sailing or rough seas for both men. Still, no credible political analyst believes DeSantis will join Trump’s 2024 ticket, even if he loses reelection.

Presidentially, and especially for the GOP, Florida is the must-win mother of all swing states, boasting 30 electoral votes after the 2020 census. As with all states, the governor’s party can help impact whether those votes land in the red or blue column. In 2020 Trump credited DeSantis with helping him win Florida, and losing the governor’s office could be devastating for 2024.

With so much at stake, Democrats are aching to defeat DeSantis. But who can do the deed? Currently, Rep. Charlie Crist, the former one-term Florida Republican governor, serving between 2007 and 2011, is emerging as the strongest in a field of weak Democratic primary candidates.

Crist is striking at the heart of DeSantis’s identity — COVID leadership. And given that DeSantis rose to fame as a COVID contrarian, the Delta variant could be his strongest opponent. This week, a spate of unfavorable national headlines, such as “Florida Leads U.S. in Covid-19 Cases as Hospitalizations Surge,” will test DeSantis’s 2020 reputation as the governor who “kept Florida open for business.”

But when early voting begins next fall, COVID might be contained. Then DeSantis could potentially win reelection with the messages merchandised at his campaign store: “Keep Florida Free” and “Don’t Fauci My Florida.” Most notable are can-coolers quoting the famous DeSant-ism: “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”

COVID may fade, but DeSantis’s 2024 presidential aura grows stronger, providing fodder for Democrats. During a campaign rally last week, Crist said, “This current governor is running for president. He’s treating Florida like she’s a stepping stone.”

Echoing Crist is Thomas Kennedy, a Democratic National Committee member from Florida, who said DeSantis is “running for president, not for governor. He’s much more interested in fundraising and shallow and destructive appeals to the MAGA base.”

How DeSantis’s White House ambition and national reputation will impact his reelection prospects could be the issue to watch.

Despite constant downplaying, DeSantis acts like a presidential candidate. He traipses around the nation attending high-profile fundraising events with his PAC, which has raised $36.7 million thus far in 2021 ($17 million from out-of-state donors), a presidentially encouraging amount.

Appealing to his national base, DeSantis recently toured the Texas border after deploying Florida law enforcement members to help patrol. Always on Fox News, DeSantis walks a tightrope between 2022 and 2024. He could risk falling since he was barely elected in 2018, winning by only 0.4 percent — mandating a machine recount.

Here is why Florida is the definition of a purple toss-up state:

As of September 2020, Florida had 13.5 million registered voters. Democrats accounted for 36.8 percent, Republicans 35.2 percent, unaffiliated with 26.9 percent and minority party 1.1 percent. Hence, DeSantis’s reelection hinges on appealing to a wide swath of voters while he increasingly panders to his GOP base, signing court-contested voting restrictions and anti-riot laws.

DeSantis’s response to disasters, such as the recent Surfside condo collapse, hurricanes and tragic events that always seem to befall Florida, will either help or hurt him. All are wild cards, but Donald Trump is the most unpredictable. How much the former president will impact and participate in DeSantis’s reelection is unknown. And if Trump were to help the governor win big, DeSantis could still emerge more formidable.

My only prediction is that DeSantis will have a brutal campaign since outside the GOP, he is considered to be a polarizing Trump stand-in, yet feared by Democrats who must take him out before he becomes a 2024 contender.

The governor will have untold millions in campaign money, continuously appear in the media and be tested like a presidential candidate since Florida in 2022 is a 2024 Republican harbinger, putting Trumpism to another test.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


Credit: AP Photo/Steve Helbe

By Myra Adams – RCP Contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – June 30, 2021

Data from a recent poll and an economic report open a troubling window on  the perceptions and behaviors of the American people, particularly those under age 24. Although unrelated to each other, the poll and the report point to a downward spiral in economic attitudes that is well beyond the capacity of a president, government, or political party to fix.

Let’s begin with the economic report from The Center for Economic and Policy Research — a think tank that bills itself as promoting “democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives.”

CEPR’s findings were so harrowing that for two days, the Drudge Report linked to the study’s headline: “One in Five Young Adults Is Neither Working Nor Studying in U.S.”

The report focused on a “NEET rate,” meaning those “not in employment, education or training,” a category in which “3.8 million Americans age 20 to 24” languished during the first three months of 2021. Pandemic-related or not, this is an economically devastating statistic with countless adverse ripple effects.

Daily there are news reports about a worker shortage across most economic sectors, including many critical ones, and at the lower end of the pay scale with jobs that traditionally attract low-skilled younger workers. At this time, the bottom line is anyone who wants to work can find employment; the same holds true for schooling or training of various kinds.

Reporting about the CEPT study, Bloomberg/Quint wrote: “Inactive youth is a worrying sign for the future of the economy, as they don’t gain critical job skills to help realize their future earnings potential. Further, high NEET rates may foster environments that are fertile for social unrest.”

Ah, “social unrest” — an exciting opportunity to join a street mob, protest or support a cause with the potential for an awesome after-party.

What stands out from the recent Jan.-March 2021 NEET rates is the comparison to the same time period in 2020, before the pandemic shut down America. That 2020 baseline number indicates the “inactive youth” problem existed pre-pandemic but has accelerated.

Shown below is CEPT’s demographic breakdown of the 3.8 million idle 20-to-24-year-olds with each group’s percentage increase from 2020:

Asians: 14.3% — an increase of 3.9%
White: 15.9% — 3.1%
Hispanic: 19.7% — 3.5%
Black: 24.8% — 3.9%
Other: 31.7% — 11.2%

(Note that the percentages add up to 106.4. CEPR offers no explanation for this total.)

The CEPT study concludes: “The American Rescue Plan [passed in March] will help improve the employment and educational prospects for young adults. But current and ongoing recovery efforts need to do more to ensure that young adults in today’s diverse working class can improve their long-term prospects in the labor market and prosper in the years ahead.”

But is the idle-youth problem in our capitalist market economy more an issue of self-motivation than the government’s “need to do more to ensure” that they will prosper?

The answer — or some clues to it — might be connected to the findings of a recent poll by Axios/Momentive, which indicate a disturbing trend in favorable attitudes toward socialism at the expense of capitalism.

Overall, 57% of Americans expressed a positive view of capitalism, with 36% negative. The same poll in 2019 showed 61% positive with 36% negative. A four-percentage-point positivity decline is a worrisome signal for the health of American capitalism.

More alarming is the attitude about our free market system among those aged 18 to 24. Only 42% have a positive view of capitalism, with 54% expressing negativity.

Worse is that 51% of these young adults view socialism positively. The general public’s perception of socialism as positive registers at 41%, with only 52% holding negative views. The 10-point difference between young adults’ favorable view and that of Americans overall significantly impacts our national future — especially considering last week’s screaming headline “One in Five Young Adults Is Neither Working Nor Studying in U.S.” 

What are the future expectations of those 51% of young adults? Are they confusing the economic system that traditionally means “government controls the means of production” with social media? Do they expect the government to support them in the coming decades? And how many of the 3.8 million not in school or working are employed by the underground economy, or involved in illegal activity?

Also troubling is that among Black Americans, socialism is viewed positively by 60%. And remember that nearly 25% of the 3.8 million 20-to-24-year-olds not working or in school were African American. 

When trying to “Save America,” as our former president’s new slogan implores, how will the hot-button issue of wealth inequality ever be resolved when just over half of young adults don’t positively view the capitalistic system that made America great?  A market economy relies on individual responsibility, motivation, hard work, skills, dedication, ingenuity, risk, financing, technology creativity, etc.   

Yes, only the American people can save America, and the future looks bleak when half of young adults apparently look askance at those qualities. Perhaps our government should institute mandatory reeducation camps to teach the difference between the two systems. (With no smartphones, Netflix, Tic-Tok, or social media for 30 days!) Afterward, the skill-less of all ages would be rounded up and sent to another camp to learn a trade — all for the greater good of the motherland.  

I joke, but our nation can only remain a superpower when every citizen knows what is expected of him or her and understands that capitalism depends on the fundamental personal will to succeed — and to keep trying if at first you don’t.

That is why our nation has survived to celebrate its 245th birthday. And now, the next generation must learn that saving America means the government cannot save them.