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Opinion >  Column

Sue Lani Madsen: Time for a new age of politics

Sept. 1, 2022 Updated Thu., Sept. 15, 2022 at 4:40 p.m.

There are two manifestations of Trump Derangement Syndrome – those who insist Trump couldn’t possibly have won in 2016 and it portended the end of the world as we know it, and those who insisted Trump couldn’t possibly have lost in 2020 and only he can save the republic.

Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS as it has been called by political epidemiologists, is a variant of previous political viruses known as Bush Derangement Syndrome and Obama Derangement Syndrome.

There was TDS version 1.0, the folks who went into mourning at midnight on the first Tuesday in November 2016 and stayed there. Six years later, their reaction to any conservative political column neglecting to mention their favorite villain is still, “But what about Trump?” occasionally followed by a reference to Hitler.

The TDS 1.0 gang insisted Trump was an illegitimate president for four years, is still saying an arrest is imminent and gleefully posts memes photoshopped with Trump wearing orange jail coveralls. They are adamant that yet-to-be-unveiled evidence from the Mar-a-Lago raid will land the orange man in jail in 2022 and keep repeating, “Nothing to see here,” when anyone asks questions about election security.

Then there’s TDS version 2.0, a 2020 upgrade . Early adopters repeated Trump claims that the inauguration crowd in January 2017 was a record, and everyone would know it if the media would only report the truth. Since the first Tuesday in November 2020, TDS 2.0 users have been repeating “we were robbed” themes, convinced there was Democratic collusion to suppress the popular vote for Trump. They are adamant that yet-to-be-unveiled evidence from the Mar-a-Lago raid will expose deep state conspiracies and are still questioning whether Biden is a legitimate president.

As losing presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a September 2017 interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” she wouldn’t rule out questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election if evidence of Russian interference surfaced but admitted, “I just don’t think we have a mechanism,” to challenge a certified election. Losing presidential candidate Trump tried to find a mechanism and failed. Unfortunately for the country, after a rally at the National Mall, extremists launched a fevered riot on Jan. 6, 2021, an event that’s still heating up political primaries.

All Trump had to do to squeak out a win in 2020 was flush his phone and shut up. Popular conservative policies in his first term with a hot economy pre-COVID-19, plus the tendency of voters to stick with the devil they know during an emergency, might have pulled him through into a second.

The normies are tired of the drama. We’re moving on.

The Trump personality cult isn’t going to work in 2024. Analysis by across multiple polls adjusted for data quality and partisan lean has Trump’s popularity rating at 54.7% unfavorable to 41.7% favorable as of August. The New York Times, a TDS version 1.0 super spreader, published the results of a July New York Times/Siena College poll showing his support within the Republican Party has weakened “with nearly half the party’s primary voters seeking someone different for president in 2024 and a significant number vowing to abandon him if he wins the nomination.” Reading between the lines, the New York Times authors seemed a bit disappointed their team might have to run against an actual Republican in 2024.

Especially since President Biden is ranked in the same analysis at 53.4% unfavorable to 42.2% favorable. His understudy, Vice President Kamala Harris, is barely any better at 50.4% unfavorable to 37.2% favorable.

All Biden had to do to win in 2020 was stay quarantined. The physical demands of a normal campaign year would have made his 78 years of age impossible to overlook. He’ll be 82 in 2024. C’mon, man, that’s too old to start a presidential term. Trump and Biden both need to make room for the next generation of candidates.

It’s not like there aren’t options. The Republicans have a deep and diverse bench, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

Besides Biden and Harris, the Democrats’ top 10 includes Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren (73 years old), Bernie Sanders (80 years old) and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. Sorry, Gov. Inslee, you didn’t make the list.

The Boomer generation coming of age in the 1960s and ’70s had a slogan – don’t trust anyone over 30. Let’s adopt a new slogan. Don’t vote for anyone over 70. Might even make for a good Constitutional Amendment to set a maximum age for presidents.

It would have meant Ronald Reagan’s second term had to go to someone else, but no one man or woman is that important in the thread of American history. The American system is strong, checked and balanced, designed to resist manipulation by or reliance on a single individual.

By the way, remember to wish Sen. Patty Murray a happy birthday on Oct. 11. She’ll be 72.

Contact Sue Lani Madsen at

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