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Why Do Republicans Want To Be Led By A Victim?

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Republicans will have to decide in 2024 if they want a victim as their nominee, or someone else.

The contest between Donald Trump and the rest of the field will have a number of themes depending on his adversaries -- past v. future, populism v. traditional conservatism, unconventional v. conventional, and definitely, no matter what, victim v. someone who rejects the label.

There's no one who wants to be known as a victim, except for the former president of the United States. "I am a victim," he said in his announcement speech. "I will tell you I'm a victim."

Trump has created a dynamic for his supporters where the more victimized he is, the better.

He's a victim because he's strong, and has stirred the hornet's nest in a way no one else would dare.

He's a victim because the system is rigged against him and anyone who challenges it.

 

He's a victim because he's so closely identified with his supporters, who have been, likewise, allegedly treated unfairly by large-scale economic and social forces. "We will be attacked," he told his fans at his announcement. "We will be slandered. We will be persecuted just as I have been."

Trump's self-described victimhood accords with his populism, which tends to see people, writ large, as being victimized by a corrupt elite.

It also clearly is a deeply ingrained aspect of his persona. One might assume that someone who has become so rich, famous and powerful would be filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, but Trump has always believed, whether as a businessman or candidate, that he's being treated unfairly.

This is, in part, a negotiating tactic. If he always maintains that he isn't getting his due, it increases the odds that he'll get his due, or -- better still -- more than his due.

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