Trump's Huge 2023 Decision
Sometime in 2023, Donald Trump will presumably make the most momentous decision by a single person affecting the fate of the Republican Party in decades.
He will decide whether to run for president again, and that will determine who's the frontrunner (Trump, if he's a go) and the contours of the race.
If Trump runs, he will, one assumes, blot out the sun. Everything will be about him -- his record, his pronouncements, his animosities. Much of the conservative mass media will get on board, while the mainstream media -- inadvertently aiding him, yet again -- will be even more intensely hostile.
The choice between this and a more "normal" nomination battle is Trump's alone.
Perhaps not since Dwight Eisenhower turned aside Harry Truman's entreaties to run for president as a Democrat and threw his hat in the ring as a Republican has someone had such "yea or nay" influence over the nation's politics.
Trump's continued sway has been a boon to his most hardcore cadre, but it is a problem for Trumpism, at least if that term is to mean anything more than personal loyalty to him. In particular, his staying power risks overshadowing and distorting the development of the populist wing of the party, which should be about more than "Stop the Steal" and adherence to one man, even if that man has defied political gravity.
Trump lost last November and contributed more than his share to the Georgia Senate losses that have added trillions of dollars to what Joe Biden can plausibly spend.
He no longer has any formal power, whereas a few months ago he could move aircraft carrier groups.
He's off social media and is not nearly as omnipresent on traditional media as when he was holding impromptu press conferences on his way to Marine One.
And yet, his grip on the party has barely loosened, if at all.