When you first came to Phoenix with presidential aspirations, the year was 2015. Most Americans then believed you would be the comic diversion before the real contest began.

The serious people wouldn't dare say out loud that Donald Trump could be president.

It took a provocateur like Ann Coulter to say it, and when she did, they nearly laughed her off stage.

She knew what that Television City audience did not.

You were about to connect with the great unwashed.

You came to Phoenix and filled the hall. People here loved you even as their U.S. Sen. John McCain said you had “fired up the crazies.”

When you defied the pundits and won your party nomination, few people believed you would beat your Democratic opponent.

Then came election night 2016 and the bewildered anchors of cable news.

The script in their hands read “Hillary Coronation.” The numbers on their big boards read “Trump triumphs.”

That was so long ago, not just a different country, but a different age that looks as outdated to modern eyes as the European monarchies looked after all the wreckage of World War I.

So much has happened since that 2016 Election Night:

Inauguration, Washington, D.C. riots, impeachment, pandemic, electoral defeat, a Capitol Hill riot, impeachment, the FBI raid at Palm Beach, indictment, indictment, indictment, indictment.

Then came 2024 and Iowa and one of the most improbable comebacks in American political history.

The polls at the moment say you are going to win back the presidency in a country where people are so divided that big thinkers whisper words like “national divorce” and “civil war.”

The man who defeated you in 2020, Joe Biden, said he would be the president who reunites the country, but he failed completely at that task.

More than three-quarters of Democratic and Republican voters told University of Virginia pollsters in 2021 that “elected officials from the other side represent a clear and present danger to American democracy.”

Biden’s White House has been nearly as unsettling as your own.

The two of you now stand among the most unpopular presidents ever.

On Jan. 26, you return to a state that used to be your touchstone — Arizona. You used to return here all the time knowing the reception would be warm.

But even Arizona abandoned you in the 2020 election and went for Biden.

As you prepare to return, a question lingers.

Have you learned anything?

Nikki Haley makes Trump crazy:She can't quit now

If you win back the White House — and that will be no small task — are we facing another four years of turmoil?

Because you are a guy who today seems incapable of change.

You are bedlam personified — a walking, talking chaos machine.

The national fabric is stretched so tightly it frays before our eyes. It’s ready to burst and none of us knows if it can withstand this next election.

Do you understand that?

And if you do, where is the evidence?

In that briefcase of yours filled with brickbats and insults, do you have any peace offerings? Can you calm the passions that Joe Biden could not?

Long ago, there once was a Donald Trump who could play all sides against the middle, who could court the Clintons and delight the Murdochs, who could change party affiliations with a whim and did so nearly a half-dozen times.

Do you have any clue anymore how to reach the other half of America that is appalled at who you have become?

To them it is unthinkable that you could ever be president again. T-R-U-M-P is a five-letter obscenity.

You are not merely a change agent in their eyes, but a serious threat to civilization. When they speak your name they bespeak apocalypse.

How do you deal with that?

Because for all the inflation and illegal border crossings, for all the piling debt and dilapidated big cities, the most serious problem facing America is this:

Americans hate each other.

Does Donald Trump have an answer for that?

Can the arsonist be the fireman?

At the moment Donald Trump and Joe Biden look like names that will live in infamy. The next great American president will be the president who can restore our national cohesion after all the damage that has been done.

Are you capable of reading the moment?

If the American people reelect you, will you perform the impossible and make us one nation?

Because that’s the task before you, and no one thinks Trump or Biden can do that job.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic. Email him at phil.boas@arizonarepublic.com.

QOSHE - Trump lit a match in Arizona. Now, he must put it out - Phil Boas
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Trump lit a match in Arizona. Now, he must put it out

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25.01.2024

When you first came to Phoenix with presidential aspirations, the year was 2015. Most Americans then believed you would be the comic diversion before the real contest began.

The serious people wouldn't dare say out loud that Donald Trump could be president.

It took a provocateur like Ann Coulter to say it, and when she did, they nearly laughed her off stage.

She knew what that Television City audience did not.

You were about to connect with the great unwashed.

You came to Phoenix and filled the hall. People here loved you even as their U.S. Sen. John McCain said you had “fired up the crazies.”

When you defied the pundits and won your party nomination, few people believed you would beat your Democratic opponent.

Then came election night 2016 and the bewildered anchors of cable news.

The script in their hands read “Hillary Coronation.” The numbers on their big boards read “Trump triumphs.”

That was so long ago, not just a different country, but a different age that looks as outdated to modern eyes as the European monarchies looked after all the wreckage of World War I.

So much has happened........

© Arizona Republic


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