Tucker Carlson Wants to be the Next Trump, and He Could Succeed.

The FOX Host is shaping up to be the political threat many of us saw coming.

Richard Drew / Associated Press

Of all the personalities on the right attempting to navigate the political landscape in the United States in the aftermath of the Trump presidency, few have been more successful in dominating the news cycle than FOX News’ Tucker Carlson. Since the early months of 2020 many have been engaging in speculation about the television hosts’ intentions to run for office, and for good reason. It has been argued that in the midst of right wing efforts to regain control and moving further and further to the right in the process, Donald Trump was merely the trial run intended to show far more intelligent and capable wanna-be fascists how to do it, Tucker Carlson certainly being among them. Given his recent antics on his television show, it seems safe to assume that Carlson is indeed aiming for bigger things, and the left needs to prepare for what his potential run would look like.

There’s no denying Carlson has been upping the ante, trading in the familiar racial dog whistles and tropes for increasingly overtly white supremacist “great replacement” theory segments on his show, specifically intended to get his middle aged to older white male audience to once again turn to their racist fears of “the other” in an effort to appeal to the darkest, most sinister aspects of the country. All done in a way similar to but arguably far more organized than Donald Trump’s very same appeals just a few years ago.

As much as Mitch McConnell might want to convince himself that the future of the Republican party is Tim Scott, I would argue it’s those like Tucker Carlson, who understand that a key motivating factor for the Republican base is fear and oftentimes an intense need for a scapegoat, but disdain for the ruling class as well. The right wing is all too often looking for someone or something to hate, and Carlson is more than willing to give it to them. But at the same time that Carlson is airing ridiculous segments that appeal to the fears of his audience, like when it was argued on his show that transgender people threaten “the perpetuation of the species”, what sets Carlson apart from most of the right wing pundit class is the willingness to sprinkle in — every so often — a kernel of truth.

While Carlson’s racist rhetoric has been ramping up, so have his criticisms of the corporate donor class and the political elites who he has been intelligent enough to see that much of the country has justifiably come to despise. Incredibly, he even took direct aim at House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy, turning a dangerous anti-vaccination segment into a direct attack on the congressman’s close, personal ties to Republican pollster and consultant Frank Luntz. A man who just so happens to be one of the most well respected men in the circles of the Republican elite.

Tucker Carlson is many things, but he is not unintelligent.

The man knows exactly what he is doing, and it’s growing increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that he is laying the groundwork to run a campaign that appeals to the very same people that Donald Trump did. His orchestrated, carefully constructed shift to not only engaging in the culture war talking points the base loves so much, but the increasing frequency of his anti-establishment, anti-corporation segments all seem to point to a man who hopes to finish what Donald Trump started, and is probably right in thinking he just might succeed in winning an election if he keeps it up.

Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton might all feel as though the shoes of the former Republican President are theirs to fill, but none of them have even a shred of the cross-country appeal and charisma that Donald Trump had. Tucker Carlson is no Trump either, but he’s certainly proving himself to be far more prepared to take his place than any the other right wing opportunists. Carlson is yet another reminder of the dangers of right wing populism, and that if Democrats don’t take advantage of their position to significantly improve the material conditions of working people across the country, his racism coupled with the economic populism is going to be a significant problem the party is woefully unprepared to deal with.

Lauren is a writer & leftist with analysis on topics related to politics & policy. She can be reached at LaurenMartinchek@gmail.com or Twitter @xlauren_mx

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