As the war on normal escalates, and a silent majority nationwide grows weary of blue-state chaos, GOP opportunities in the midterm elections and 2024 are vast. But Donald J. Trump and his client army stand in the way of broad Republican victories, impeding the revival of values — freedom, faith, and family — they brandish exclusively as their own.

Trump empowers the progressive left. Red-Meat Republicans and Devil-Trump Democrats are locked in a never-ending scorpion dance. For many voters, especially women, Trump’s astonishing boorishness preempts policy evaluation. The nation is the loser.

Nonetheless, Donald J. Trump has millions of devotees who...

As the war on normal escalates, and a silent majority nationwide grows weary of blue-state chaos, GOP opportunities in the midterm elections and 2024 are vast. But Donald J. Trump and his client army stand in the way of broad Republican victories, impeding the revival of values — freedom, faith, and family — they brandish exclusively as their own.

Trump empowers the progressive left. Red-Meat Republicans and Devil-Trump Democrats are locked in a never-ending scorpion dance. For many voters, especially women, Trump’s astonishing boorishness preempts policy evaluation. The nation is the loser.

Nonetheless, Donald J. Trump has millions of devotees who — fed up with gilded deceit and leftist disdain — like his crazy. These fans are not domestic terrorists or insurrectionists, but they are also not conservative or constitutionalists. In the show trial January 6 hearings, Trump does not come off well. His client army does not care.

His failure to step aside in a gracious speech, saying it’s all been fun and may the best man win, indicates no genuine interest in his party’s or the country’s welfare. Nor does it reflect any understanding of what’s best in the long run for his legacy. He would call it a brand. He now polls as a 2024 loser to Joe Biden, a remarkable feat and red flag.

For most of America, Trump’s ghastly American Freedom Tour is just TFG, as Twitter folks put it. Too Far Gone. These all-day stadium events across the country make Trump a lot of money. Top tickets go in the several thousands. His cult of personality — yes, on this one, Representative Liz Cheney is very right — instantiates the lure of tyranny the Founders feared.

With his sordid front man Dinesh D’Souza warming up the crowd, the man who refuses to call himself a former president takes bad losing to the next level. The stadium likes the antics, is no longer moved by ceremony or dignity. These fans want a big-screen superhero — a “fighter,” not a conscientious executive — and they are likely to determine the GOP’s destiny in the coming two years.

When it comes to elections, Trump’s client army says it’s Trump and his erratic picks — or no dice. That makes him a spoiler. The client army is loyal to its commander, not party or state. The man knows it, uses it, and loves it. If this is not a page out of the failing Roman republic playbook, what is it?

Trump’s army likes politics rough and gaudy. It goes for the signature grimaces and pirouettes under stadium klieg lights. It loves the spectacle, the roar of the crowd, the invective — crude and human — no different from what Juvenal chronicled in ancient Rome.

Meanwhile, a ritual chant wafts gently down Massachusetts Avenue, spilling onto K Street and into the Cosmos Club. Time for Trump to pass the baton, the GOP’s high priests and augurs say over the asparagus hollandaise. Resplendent in their Hermés and gold, and waiting for the Fox bookers to call, they nod their heads as one. Time for Trump to pass the baton.

Yet ask the high priests: when are you going to make him go away? Dead silence, but for the faint sound of temple bells and glass chimes tinkling in the wind. Washington’s priests like their sinecures. They are afraid of Trump’s legendary wrath. They want to be on the team, and have a place at the table. Reconciling the hollandaise and that Podunk base on which they depend takes daily faith and self-instruction.

Trump will not willingly pass the baton, of course, and does not intend to. Instead, like a malicious child, he plans to play cat-and-mouse mixed with I got you elected bravado, a sick game of domination played at the expense of his party, country, and honor. If Trump goes third party, the Republicans will sacrifice their greatest opportunity in decades to advance what he began.

The baton was rightly to have been passed in December 2020, when the Supreme Court and Department of Justice for good reasons let Trump know that it was game over. Any patriot would have then departed, like it or not, to act as an influential gray eminence. Trump did not. His failure to transfer power out of respect for his government, claiming cyber-heist, and the subsequent January 6 debacle were gross constitutional affronts, something Trump and his client army still fail to grasp or simply don’t worry about.

In the midst of accelerating national breakdown, two years later, Trump exhibits sufficient bad judgment, unstable behavior, and pathological selfishness. This disqualifies him from further office.

Why Trump in the first place? Barack Obama and other Democratic progressives had promised white voters racial harmony but gave them Black Lives Matter and a war on cops. American institutions re-graded the playing field in behalf of access and opportunity. What functional, taxpaying, non-glam America received in return was unending grievance and white shaming. In one lifetime, thriving downtowns, high-performing schools, and well-managed municipal governments vanished, while crime and “homelessness” arrived. The loss of national identity and accusations of collective guilt posed profound threats to a secure US future. Trump, for all his defects, read the moment. But moments pass, and here we are.

To the good — and many Americans love him for it — Donald J. Trump blew the whistle on the diversity racket, open borders, and corporate outsourcing when the Republican establishment and Never Trumpers would and could not. Still, his 2016 nomination and election were unexpected, a vote of no confidence to Leviathan. This was not acceptable, not only to the Clinton and Obama machines, but also to William Kristol, the National Review, Karl Rove, and Peggy Noonan.

Trump was not capable of righting things, or even understanding how to begin. He did not know government or try to learn. He used and destroyed honorable statesmen of greater intellect and character than his own, notably attorney general and former senator Jeff Sessions, the country’s leading legislator on immigration issues.

Trump’s odious character needs no further documentation. I lived in New York City for forty years. Not once did I hear an architect, banker or lawyer say one complimentary thing about him. He’s a pariah among financiers on Wall Street. Over the years, he has stiffed major banks out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

As the GOP wilts, Trump dances, bloated and red-faced, in stadiums. How peculiar it is to see a former president act this way, when he could be home with the grandchildren or dogs, maybe gardening or having a round of golf with friends.

A former officeholder in his sunset years normally would think of his legacy, perhaps a memoir. After all, Trump shook the Republican Party from its torpor and championed the nation’s sovereignty, borders, and yeoman. Framed on Russian collusion, suffering two sketchy impeachments, hamstrung by concerted ideological forces inside government and his own belligerent personality, he nonetheless changed the nation’s political course.

A clever Trump would build this narrative, letting Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin, and Arkansas’s Tom Cotton strengthen the GOP’s future, going down in history as a pivotal leader, not as a demagogue. Not Trump. Instead, he treats his younger colleagues as subordinate rivals and threats to his radiant glory.

Who among the priests and viziers at long last will bring the curtain down? Where are today’s Barry Goldwaters and Hugh Scotts to tell Trump it’s over, finito? Where is Margaret Chase Smith? Gone to Marjorie Taylor Greene is the answer.

Trump was a bad casino act six years ago and he is not improving with age. It’s time for him to call it a night and go home. It was time long ago. The GOP can forget real freedom, faith, and family for lack of electoral support as long as he is hogging the limelight. Now it’s four in the morning, and what’s left amid the flashing lights are the janitors and spilled drinks, a few stragglers at the slots, and maybe a sad-eyed hooker at the bar. It’s an unhappy sight, seeing a former president in such a state, reduced to this disgraceful condition.