Opinion | Republicans Chose Their Fate When They Chose to Shield Trump

By Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

It’s not too much to say that the 2024 Republican presidential primary is effectively over. In fact, it’s been over. The earliest you could say it was over was Jan. 7, 2021, when most Republican politicians closed ranks around Donald Trump in the wake of the insurrection. The next earliest date was Feb. 13 of the same year, when the majority of Senate Republicans voted to acquit Trump of all charges in his second impeachment trial, leaving him free to run for office.

With Trump now shielded from the immediate political consequences of trying to seize power, it was only a matter of time before he made his third attempt for the Republican presidential nomination. And now, a year out from the next Republican convention, he is the likely nominee — the consensus choice of most Republican voters. No other candidate comes close.

According to the most recent New York Times/Siena poll, 54 percent of Republicans nationwide support Trump for the 2024 nomination. The next most popular candidate, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, gets 17 percent support. The next five candidates have either 2 percent or 3 percent support.

You might think that Trump’s overwhelming lead is the product of a fragmented field, but that’s not true. If every candidate other than DeSantis left the race, and their votes went to DeSantis, Trump would still win by a nearly two-to-one margin.

You can’t even blame the poor performance of DeSantis’s campaign. Has he burned through campaign cash with little to show for it? Yes. Is he tangled up in multiple scandals and controversies, including one in which a (now former) staffer created and shared a video with Nazi imagery? Yes. But even a flawless campaign would flounder against the fact that Trump remains the virtually uncontested leader of the Republican Party.

And make no mistake: Trump’s leadership has not been seriously contested by either his rivals or the broader Republican establishment. How else would you describe the decision to defend Trump against any investigation or legal scrutiny that comes his way? Republican elites and conservative media have successfully persuaded enough Republican voters that Trump is the victim of a conspiracy of perfidious liberals and their “deep state” allies.

They have done a good job convincing those voters that Trump deserves to be back in office. And sure enough, they are poised to give him yet another chance to win the White House.

What I Wrote

My Tuesday column was on Congress’s power to regulate, and discipline, the Supreme Court.

Setting aside both the legislature’s power to impeach judges and its power of the purse over the judiciary — there’s nothing in the rules that says the court must have clerks, assistants or even a place from which to work — there are at least two provisions of the Constitution that authorize Congress to, in Alito’s words, “regulate the Supreme Court.”

My Friday column was on the federal indictment of President Donald Trump on charges related to his effort to overturn the presidential election.

The criminal-legal system is now moving, however slowly, to hold Trump accountable. This is a good thing. But as we mark this development, we should also remember that the former president’s attempt to overthrow our institutions would not have been possible without those institutions themselves.

Now Reading

David Waldstreicher on writing history for the public for Boston Review.

A.S. Hamrah on the “Mission: Impossible” franchise for The New York Review of Books.

Brianna Di Monda on the film “Women Talking” for Dissent.

The New Republic on the 100 most significant political films of all time.

Richard Hasen on the federal case against Donald Trump for Slate.

Photo of the Week

This is the remnant of a downtown storefront in Quincy, Fla. I took this earlier in the summer during a trip to visit family in the area.

Now Eating: Red Curry Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

This is a wonderfully comforting vegetarian meal that is very easy to put together, especially if you have staples like lentils and coconut milk already on hand. If you don’t have vegetable stock, just use water. Or if you’re not a strict vegetarian and prefer chicken stock, you can go with that instead. Although this is Thai-inspired, I think it goes very well with a warm piece of cornbread. Recipe from New York Times Cooking.


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 medium sweet potatoes), peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about 1 tablespoon)

1 red chile, such as Fresno or serrano, halved, seeds and ribs removed, then minced

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cup red lentils, rinsed

4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 (13-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk

1 (4-to-5-ounce) bag baby spinach

½ lime, juiced

Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving


In a Dutch oven or pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high. Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the browned sweet potatoes to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot and set the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the curry paste, garlic, ginger, chile and turmeric, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the lentils, stock, salt and browned sweet potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil over high. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced and the lentils are creamy and falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir until just wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lime juice and season with salt to taste.

Divide among shallow bowls and top with cilantro.

Jamelle Bouie became a New York Times Opinion columnist in 2019. Before that he was the chief political correspondent for Slate magazine. He is based in Charlottesville, Va., and Washington. @jbouie

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