COMMENTARY

Here's why Trump won't run in 2024 — and why the Trump cult ultimately can't win

Republicans and the Trump cult want to create a "medieval-technological" regime. But in the end, reality bites

By Brian Karem

Published April 21, 2022 10:00AM (EDT)

Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Longtime White House correspondent Brian Karem writes a weekly column for Salon.

The evolution of the human species is not a straightforward proposition.

While in the past we produced Shakespeare, George Washington Carver, Einstein and Voltaire, to name a few more noteworthy evolved humans,  more recently we collectively coughed up phlegm like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.

Or, you can look at it another way; On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan forced the United States into World War II after dropping bombs on Pearl Harbor. Richard Pryor once wondered what Japan's leaders must have thought at that time. "We teach them a lesson," Pryor said. It was a fundamental misunderstanding of what America was about because Pryor joked that the Japanese hierarchy had only met laid-back Americans from California. They had never met the "white boys on chains" in Alabama or Florida, the white boys who "scare other white people."

At any rate, exactly 31 years later to the day, about five hours into the flight of Apollo 17, either astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Eugene Cernan or Ron Evans, traveling at around 25,000 mph took the very first picture of the whole, fully illuminated Earth. 

This moving and beautiful photograph has been replicated countless times since and was nicknamed "The Blue Marble." To say it has been thought-provoking is an understatement.

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Philosophers, historians and the late scientist Carl Sagan are among those who have mused about the significance of a photograph that shows no boundaries, no strife, no drama — just the serene beauty of a planet some eight billion of us now share and call home. Quite an advance in 31 years.

Fifty years later, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, born nearly six years after that photograph was taken, is fighting with Disney over the use of the word "gay." He is the epitome of the person Pryor joked about — as is Donald Trump. But the joke is on us this time. Both of those reprobates have attracted a following of immense numbers of people — many who simply don't get it. Our former president is convinced the world is impressed with his ability to hit a small golf ball into a gopher-sized hole from a few hundred yards away with one shot — and that's more important than anything else occurring on the planet. A madman in Russia has started a war in Ukraine as a monument to his own twisted ego. NASA photographs and scientists confirm we are in the middle of a planet-changing climate event that could mean the end of the human species, even if others on the planet don't want to believe it. In February 2015, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma infamously brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to deny climate change. 

"It isn't a lie if you believe it," a Republican legislator told me recently, talking about exactly such things. While that is the most hypocritical thing I've been told on Capitol Hill in the last two days, it's also the philosophy of fictional character George Costanza on "Seinfeld" — and was acknowledged as such by the legislator who, while dead serious, also thought he was being incredibly witty.

Fifty years after the last manned trip to the moon, some of our elected officials are basing their life's philosophy on shallow, stunted fictional characters who were contrived by standup comedians. 

Meanwhile, there are those who believe we are trapped in a new Middle Ages.

"We are kind of in the middle of a technological-medieval age," another Capitol Hill legislator told me. "Religion is taking precedence over science. People are denying facts. Hell, in Florida they're banning math books! If we can't agree on facts and truth, then we're truly screwed."

Lest you think there is no purpose to this madness, be assured there is. Those who wish to convince you that facts are not facts have a serious goal in mind: control. The more you doubt facts, the more they can get away with twisting them to their own ends. The next insurrection could therefore be successful — at local, state and federal levels — as the Republican Party continues to try and overturn elections and maintain power, even though a majority of Americans find them to be inveterate, spineless liars filled with the excrement of aging castrated bulls. 

Book burnings are apt to take place at county fairs, or be offered during prayer services at some churches under this scenario. In five years we could be dressed in pilgrim outfits, burning suspected witches at the stake and jailing pot smokers for life. Merely celebrating 4/20 could be a felony. Those who want an abortion will be reduced to once again using coat hangers. If you decide to give birth, as the comedian George Carlin said, "Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that, they don't want to know about you. They don't want to hear from you. No nothing. No neonatal care, no day care, no Head Start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing. If you're preborn, you're fine; if you're preschool, you're fucked."

But there is hope. Progress never stops. As much as the atavistic asses of arrogance will use their ignorance to try and control the world, they can't.

Science, facts and reality have a way of eroding the bullshit of humans — even when other humans cannot.

There are those convinced that an apocalypse is once again on the horizon because Donald Trump will run and win re-election in 2024. Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh is among those who believe he will run. Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen doesn't. "He's always about the grift," Cohen has repeatedly said.


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But the world sits and waits, either in anticipation of the second coming of their Christ and savior Trump, or in fear of the Antichrist and destroyer Trump. He ain't coming. He's too busy conning you into thinking he's coming. So please cough up some more money.

Trump has played it close to the vest as he has traveled across the country to a variety of rallies, pitching baubles and trinkets to dazzle and amaze those of simple minds and limited funds. Buy a hat. Buy a shirt. Buy an ornament. Buy an autographed picture. Buy anything Trump is selling — probably up to and including autographed underwear. 

Millions continue to support him by buying his cheap and tawdry knickknacks. It makes me wonder what these homes look like. "Come in. clean your feet on the Trump doormat, hang up your coat on the Trump coat rack. Have a seat and a complimentary beverage out of our Trump lemonade pitcher, poured lovingly into a Trump autographed mug." 

Meanwhile, you can take a look at a phone video shot by Donald Trump Jr. inviting you to visit a "top secret" rally with his father — and, gosh, even get a chance to meet Dad! What the hell is a top secret rally? Isn't that what the KKK used to do?

Anyway, Trump won't run in 2024. I've said that repeatedly, and I believe his recent pronouncement to the Washington Post is the reason he will give, eventually, for staying out of the race.

"You always have to talk about health. You look like you're in good health, but tomorrow, you get a letter from a doctor saying, 'Come see me again,'" Trump told the Post. "That's not good when they use the word 'again.'"

Did Trump already get such a notice? He never adequately addressed the medical condition that sent him to the doctor on short notice in the last year of his presidency — that was before contracting COVID, but after an announcement by the White House physician claiming that Trump was in such great health he could live to be 200, despite being, fat, flaccid, constantly unhappy and obviously stressed-out.

He may not have gotten such a notice. And if he didn't, then he's planting the seeds for a new con right now. There's no way Trump will go through another rigorous campaign or the increased scrutiny of another presidency. He was impeached twice. He's making more money pretending to run, without the headache of actually running or ruling, and he knows how to play to his crowd to keep the money rolling. In the end he will try to be a kingmaker — and Ron DeSantis is the leading candidate to become the next GOP emperor with no clothes.

Trump is incapable of evolving. He doesn't know how. He doesn't want to. There are still plenty of folks who will jump off a cliff with him, happily handing him the money that he'll eagerly dive off the cliff to get.

The incredibly frustrating part of this moment in history is that we have an even older president in office now. But Joe Biden is a guy who not only gets it but is trying to do something about it — in an extremely limited amount of time. While he makes noise about running for a second term, that's another variable that is not set in stone. Biden's health seems fine, but it's hard not to believe he's exasperated with the continued popularity of a charlatan con artist and all those others who preach from the same script. What man, in the twilight of his life, would want to deal with such crap for eight long years?  Biden continues to dedicate himself to cleaning up Trump's mess, only to be blamed for it.

Evolution is truly a haphazard, non-linear exercise.

But the evolution of the species depends upon the rigorous efforts of those younger than the two septuagenarians at the head of the two political parties — and the willingness of a majority of people to accept truth and facts for what they are, not what they want them to be.

Vaccines work.

Trump is a crook.

Biden is too old.

DeSantis is an idiot.

The Democrats have no bench strength.

The GOP has no soul.

The world is round.

The Holocaust occurred.

Man landed on the moon.

And Putin is a madman. 

Evolve, damn it!

Read more from Brian Karem on the Biden White House:


Brian Karem

Brian Karem is the former senior White House correspondent for Playboy. He has covered every presidential administration since Ronald Reagan, sued Donald Trump three times successfully to keep his press pass, spent time in jail to protect a confidential source, covered wars in the Middle East, and is the author of seven books, including "Free the Press," due out this fall.

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