In recent weeks, former US president Donald Trump repeatedly has indicated publicly that he is already thinking about choosing the person to run with him as the Republican nominee for vice-president.
During the coming months, many people will urge Trump to choose a “moderate” running mate in hopes of enhancing his electoral prospects and those of other Republican candidates.
However, it is unusually important that Trump pick a vice-presidential candidate less as a running mate than as a potential successor, not merely because of Trump’s age, but also in order to discourage Trump’s assassination and – if worse comes to worst – to help Trump’s “America First” movement to survive him.
That Trump is at unusually high risk of assassination seems self-evident. Not since Abraham Lincoln has an American president or major-party presidential candidate been so widely demonized as Donald Trump, who is now vilified by US ruling elites, including the sitting president, members of Congress, academics and journalists not merely as leading but as being, in person, an existential threat to what they call “our democracy.”
Some of Trump’s supporters have warned publicly of this risk. Tucker Carlson, interviewing Trump on August 23, asked him why some of the millions who hate him viscerally would not assassinate him rather than allow him to return to the presidency. When Trump evaded that question, Carlson asked it again, and Trump evaded it again.
A week later, Carlson, appearing on Adam Carolla’s weekly podcast, opined that “we are speeding toward assassination” of Trump. After The New York Times, on November 30, published an opinion piece by neoconservative Robert Kagan titled “A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable,” pro-Trump congressman Matt Gaetz posted on X (formerly Twitter): “They’re obviously green-lighting assassination.”
In recent decades, polls have repeatedly shown that most Americans doubt the official US government account of president John F Kennedy’s assassination. Many suspect that persons currently or formerly in the service of US internal security or intelligence agencies may have participated in it.
Such persons – including Warren Commissioner and former Central Intelligence Agency director Alan Dulles – plainly participated in covering up aspects of the assassination. Moreover, the executive branch of the US government continues not to release numerous documents bearing on the Kennedy assassination, notwithstanding repeated statutory mandates to release them. Sixty years later, who killed JFK remains uncertain.
Under these circumstances, it seems imprudent to assume that the set of potential Trump assassins excludes current or former employees or contractors of US internal security agencies and of such agencies of European states whose elites fear Trump – and their own swelling populist-nationalist movements – no less than do US elites.
It also seems imprudent to expect Trump’s supporters not to suspect the “deep state” of involvement in any assassination of Trump, regardless of what may be said by government and mass media, neither of which Trump’s supporters trust. Consequently, the potential consequences of Trump’s assassination include nastiness that, for now, seems better imagined than discussed.
Although some political assassins are nutters whom nothing can deter, some are rational and can be deterred.
Consequently, the risk of a Trump assassination may be substantially reduced if Trump’s undoubted successor is clearly no less committed than Trump to the two core elements of Trump’s “America First” agenda: (1) replacement of international free trade with national economic autonomy insofar as feasible; and (2) an end to wage-lowering immigration from poor countries, including an end to asylum and illegal immigration and restriction of legal immigration.
There are many prospective vice-presidential candidates who could provide effective life insurance for Trump, and effective insurance against domestic violence for the US. Which of them might best enhance Trump’s electoral prospects or best assist Trump as vice-president is for Trump to decide.
However, to provide such insurance, Trump’s veep pick must clearly be no less hostile than is Trump to free trade and immigration that enrich US elites by impoverishing US workers.
Moreover, a veep who “out-Trumps Trump” might help convey to US elites a reality that they prefer to ignore. Trump is no longer the most populist of well-known US populists. He is becoming a moderate in the movement he unleashed.
Trump loves winning, and against the Grim Reaper, no one wins. However, those who have a posterity do not wholly lose, and that Trump can deal with his mortality is suggested by his having troubled to raise five children.
In designating a veep, he might best be guided by them and his 10 grandchildren, trusting in their desire to keep him here with them until, in the fullness of time, one Big Mac too many raises him to join George Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.