I took a wrong turn driving through southwestern Los Angeles on Sunday and suddenly found myself on Trump National Drive, which snakes down to the Pacific Ocean from one of the former president’s sprawling golf courses. Even on the West Coast, you can’t escape him. There has been a media frenzy in the US ahead of Trump’s heavily trailed arraignment in a Lower Manhattan courtroom and, if that goes ahead later today, we can expect the full force of the media machine to shift into action. Think chopper cams and the kind of televised circus that Trump thrives on.
Yet for all the ink spilled in the papers about what this indictment means – for democracy, for the 2024 election – the American public has for some time been quietly moving on. Just take the lacklustre gathering of supporters in Palm Beach on Saturday, with a clutch of Make America Great Again flags and fringe slogans that hardly represents a vast, energised base. Then there’s the much-cited polls suggesting that Trump (pictured) is still the person who most Republicans want to lead their party into the next election. Beyond that headline, however, there are also reports of grassroots donors and local party leaders all over America growing weary of this once surefire vote winner.
Trump’s legal travails have thrust him back into the spotlight for now and, oddly, boosted his poll numbers. But is it enough to bag him his party’s nomination? I doubt it. If it does, it’ll drag the Republicans even further into the electoral wilderness. Today might be momentous – this is the first time that a former US president has faced criminal charges – but it also feels like a noisy sideshow to the Republican Party’s struggles to find direction again. For many voters watching the ruckus of recent days, the Trump show is running out of road.
Christopher Lord is Monocle’s US editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.