Six hundred and fifty-six days later, Jan. 6 is still on the lips of every mainstream democratic loyalist. In fact, the Democrats’ whole 2022 midterm strategy has been simply to elevate Trump and anything associated with him.

Regardless of whether it is a fair criticism or not, we must admit that the former president is generally hated for his many negative character flaws. Policy aside, Mr. Trump’s charisma is only in the eyes of his most dedicated fans. To the rest of the country, he’s a deeply unlikable jerk.

In light of this, it makes perfect sense that the left would make everything about Trump. After all, what’s their alternative; make the election a referendum on Joe Biden? 

Trump’s successor is neither charismatic nor shrewd, policy-wise. He can’t rally a crowd for the life of him, and his actual politics are an abysmal failure. His approval rating has stayed low, and if the midterms were a referendum on his performance, the Democrats know they would lose categorically.

Luckily for the democrats, however, Mr. Biden doesn’t necessarily need to be strong for his party to win. All the left needs to do is make everything about his unhinged, ill-tempered, egotistical predecessor, and the Dems have a shot at winning no matter how badly Biden messes things up.

This is why every left-leaning news outlet is stuck on Trump. It’s why Biden in his already-infamous September speech had more to say about MAGA Trumpists than his own party’s accomplishments. It’s why the Jan. 6 committee’s subpoena of the former president less than a month before the midterms could not have come at a better–or worse, depending on your point of view–time.

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It’s why lead opinion pieces on The Washington Post include, at the time of this writing: The Trump Tapes: 20 interviews that show why he is an unparalleled danger, Why White evangelicals won’t recoil against the worst MAGA pols, and Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t?

Looking at the headlines, you’d think we were in 2020 again. You’d think Trump was still in office and it was his name on the ballot.

And that’s exactly how the left likes it. The Dems want–and need–voters to feel that they are voting not for a failed president’s party but against a dangerous (former) president. As long as Trump’s name is top of mind on election day, Biden’s will be essentially irrelevant, or, at least that’s the plan.

And by making everything about Trump (just as the Dems are making everything about Trump), Republicans are actually, foolishly, taking a page out of the left’s playbook, doing exactly what the left wants us to do. 

Over the summer, top MAGA candidates underperformed both at the polls and in special elections. Many would argue that this was Trump’s fault. Even so, the GOP has since made a comeback at the polls, and a red wave is once again within the realms of possibility. Seemingly, the Democrats made a miscalculation: swaths of voters may hate Trump, but their frustration with Biden’s economy is enough to cause them to swing.

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But voter trends are weird, unpredictable, and fickle. A lot can happen in two weeks.

Unequivocally, the worst thing that could happen for Republican prospects at this point would be for Trump to be, well… Trump. If the egomaniac tries to pull off a stunt in typical Trump fashion, he could easily jeopardize for his own party what need only be a referendum on Biden’s failed presidency.

There certainly is a temptation to utilize the crowd-favorite superstar (one common Republican refrain is that Trump is wildly popular at his rallies therefore he must be wildly popular with the nation at large). But outside of the Truth Social, MAGA rally echo chambers, Trump is a deeply controversial individual. 

Of course, Biden is also a deeply controversial individual. So controversial, in fact, 2022 voters would probably consider voting for anyone else.

Anyone, that is, but Trump.

Ultimately, the deciding factor in this election will come down to whether the political narrative on November 8 is predominantly Trump-dominated or Biden-dominated, and if the Republicans join the left in making it all about Trump, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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