Purely Political, By James Buckley
I’m not going to compare the accomplishments of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill — the man who rallied his country and the rest of the Western world against the depredations of Hitler’s Nazi regime — to the many positive things former U.S. President Donald John Trump made happen.
Not exactly anyway.
However, there are some curious and clear-cut similarities near the end of both men’s political careers that should at least alert those who believe Mr. Trump “could never be re-elected” to the possibility that he, in fact, could be re-elected.
After all, how many of us believed he could ever be elected in the first place?
You know you knew the day he announced that he had no chance of becoming president of the United States of America.
Yet, against all odds, he won.
A trip down memory lane will lead us to Britain’s World War II commander-in-chief: Winston Churchill, who became prime minister after Hitler’s troops marched into Belgium and Holland and Neville Chamberlain resigned in disgrace and humiliation. Mr. Churchill proved to be a courageous, inspirational and determined wartime leader.
Though there were simmering ongoing conflicts when Mr. Trump came into office, the U.S. was not at war. The people who lived in it did, however, seem to be at war with one another.
The country was plugging along and slowly but surely embedding the progressive agenda into its schools, its military, its colleges, its businesses and even into the mundane daily tasks of ordinary citizens. Nothing — it seemed — could stop the relentless march of the globalists, whose policies had gutted the smaller cities of the Midwest and the South, had turned most of our major metropolitan areas into a sanctuary of homes for the well-off surrounded by vast pools of welfare recipients and serviced by an arrogant and well-paid army of civil servants.
Then, there were the issues of energy production logjams, a border no one seemed able or willing to defend, closed and abandoned production facilities littering the landscapes of those smaller American cities, and a dozen other festering problems that were unlikely to be addressed with the ascendancy of Hillary Clinton, whose place in the world of international elites was both well-known and secure. Virtually every political pundit fully expected Hillary Rodham Clinton to become the first female president of the U.S.
Yet, against all odds, she lost.
Mr. Trump had zeroed in on Midwestern cities during his campaign, promising that he could reinvigorate their moribund economies. His message reverberated in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere.
He won and did indeed begin to fulfill the promise of renewal in what had been desultorily labeled the “Rust Belt.”
Like Churchill, Mr. Trump was both determined and courageous, taking on the progressive elites as no one ever had. Mr. Trump, unfortunately, also declared war on the intelligence community, which, he was forewarned, could cause him trouble.
As recounted in the Jan. 11, 2017 issue of the New York Post: “A week before unverified documents emerged undermining President-elect Donald Trump, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer predicted that intelligence officials would ‘get back at Trump for challenging their credibility. ‘Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday to get back at you,’ Schumer said in a Jan. 3, 2017, MSNBC interview. Asked what intel officials could do to Trump, Schumer said, ‘I don’t know, but from what I am told, they are very upset with how he has treated them and talked about them.’”
We know how, now, the intelligence community got back at Mr. Trump and basically negated all the positive results of his presidency.
But here’s the Churchill/Trump parallel:
After steering the United Kingdom and the entire British Empire successfully through the great battle for survival against Nazi domination during the war years from May 1940 to July 1945, Prime Minister Churchill was unceremoniously booted from office barely two months after Nazi Germany offered its unconditional surrender to the Western Allies in May 1945. His Conservative Party lost the July 5, 1945 general election to Clement Atlee and the Labour Party.
In 1938, Prime Minister Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, giving the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia over to German conquest but bringing, as Chamberlain promised, “peace in our time.” In September 1939, that peace was shattered by Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Chamberlain declared war against Germany but during the next eight months showed himself to be ill-equipped for the daunting task of saving Europe from Nazi conquest.
After British forces failed to prevent the German occupation of Norway in April 1940, Prime Minister Chamberlain lost the support of many members of his Conservative Party. On May 10, Hitler invaded the Low Countries — Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — and France. The same day, Chamberlain formally lost the confidence of the House of Commons.
Churchill, who was known for his military leadership ability, was appointed British prime minister in his place. He formed an all-party coalition and quickly won the popular support of Britons.
On May 13, in his first speech before the House of Commons, Prime Minister Churchill declared that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat” and offered an outline of his bold plans for British resistance. In the first year of his administration, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, but Churchill promised his country and the world that the British people would “never surrender.” They never did.
After World War II, the new government immediately began the task of completely transforming British life. As prime minister, Clement Atlee put in place policies leading to the dissolution of the empire. His party pursued rapid decolonization of various British outposts and nationalized the steel, coal and railway industries. They also introduced the idea of free national health service and government-supported full employment.
Socialism had come to Britain.
It took the next 30 years, until Margaret Thatcher was named prime minister in 1979, to begin reversing the damage, but the U.K. has yet to fully recover from the socialist turn.
In 1945, Churchill was just shy of turning 71 and the loss of his party and his position devastated him. He departed for the south of France soon after the election and spent the better part of a year painting and nursing his bruised ego.
Six years later, in October 1951, the Tories won the election, and Churchill was once again prime minister. He served until 1955 and retired at age 80.
Mr. Trump — no doubt demoralized that the electorate turned its back on him, and that Democrats had installed a basement-bound do-nothing senator to replace him — has spent nearly two years licking his wounds, though painting isn’t his style.
If another like-minded Democratic candidate is successful in the upcoming 2024 presidential election and brings along with him or her a Democratic-controlled Congress, the damage will also be nearly impossible to undo.
Donald Trump will be 78 on election day 2024. If he manages to rein in his worst tendencies, show kindness towards his opponents and forgiveness to his detractors, he could possibly rehabilitate himself with enough Republican and independent voters to win again. Though I’m now a DeSantis voter, if Mr. Trump is the nominee, I’ll pull the lever for him.
And if he were re-elected, he’d be 82 at the end of his term. Old enough to retire with dignity.
And maybe he’d retire early and allow Vice President Ron DeSantis to take over.
Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?
James Buckley is a longtime Montecito resident. He welcomes questions or comments at email@example.com. Readers are invited to visit jimb.substack.com, where Jim’s Journals are on file. He also invites people to subscribe to Jim’s Journal.