ARNIE Schwarzenegger used his most famous line first in The Terminator. In the movie scene, his character – a cyborg assassin – is refused entry to the police station where his targets are being detained. He surveys the counter, then tells the police desk sergeant: “I’ll be back.” Moments later he drives a car into the station destroying the counter and massacres the staff.

Donald Trump is not as definitive about a political comeback, but it could be just as devastating.

Latest reports from Mar-a-Lago, Florida – where Trump has been holed up for most of this year –indicate that the old gunslinger is keen to clean out Dodge City, or Washington DC.

The only thing stopping him from explicitly launching now is America’s complex campaign rules, which mean that a non-declared candidate can sweep up campaign donations while an openly declared one is restricted.

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Thus Trump is effectively back on the campaign trail, saving America, and opponents can ridicule him all they like. It will be “much tougher than withdrawing [troops] from Pakistan”, he told a rally in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday. The location is more significant than the blunder. The Iowa caucus for the 2024 POTUS contest is now but two years and three months away.

So can he be stopped? Or like the Terminator, will he just keep on coming?

That is the question which is forming like a giant storm cloud over what’s left of liberal America. Less than a year after winning the battle for the “soul of America”, it looks like President Biden could be plunged into another one.

Certainly the Republican Party will not stop Trump. The old party establishment, which he eviscerated in his first march to the nomination, lost their opportunity to reassert their grip after the failed assault on the Capitol in January. A total 668 people have thus far been charged with federal crimes relating to the riot, but the former POTUS is unlikely to be joining them. Instead, the Republican lawmakers lined up to clear him of impeachment charges.

Meanwhile, a raft of anxious discussion groups fan out across America, pondering about how to reclaim the Grand Old Party for sanity – but to date show limited signs of gaining any serious traction against Trumpian populism. Only the popular Maryland governor Larry Hogan continues to fly the flag for rational Republicanism.

The smart money is that the DC attorney general will duck the chance to indict on incitement charges, but that does not mean that “The Donald” is in the clear.

On the contrary, he has enough lawsuits, civil inquiries, and criminal probes against him to shake a stick at.

On the lawsuit front, he is facing more than two dozen. When it comes to civil cases, the New York attorney general is currently looking into whether the Trump Organization manipulated the value of its assets for loans and tax breaks.

Then of course there are the criminal investigations, which are probably at the top of Trump’s mind considering they could result in him being behind bars instead of on the ballot. There is the one being led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which has already produced numerous charges against Trump’s business and longtime CFO. However, the most dangerous iceberg to the Trump Titanic probably comes from Fulton County, Georgia where the DA’s office is looking very closely at his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

One of the least convenient things Trump has going for him is his infamous phone call to Republican secretary of state Brad Raffensperger on January 3, during which Trump told him to “find 11,780 votes” to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state. “There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said numerous times throughout the call, though of course he did.

Assuming Trump stays out of jail and the Almighty does not call him early to the pearlies, can the Democrats actually beat him again?

At this stage, the Democrats’ biggest disappointment is vice president Harris. Expected to emerge as an administration star, she has underperformed so far – becoming one of the most unpopular vice presidents on record, according to polling.

This is despite voters already thinking the vice president could replace Joe Biden before 2024, invoking the constitutional amendment on the incapacity of the sitting POTUS, given the president’s verbal stumbles.

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Pollster John McLaughlin explains: “Right now Kamala Harris’s negatives are insurance against the 25th amendment. Sooner or later, the Democrats will invoke it.”

But the bookies don’t buy the pollsters’ froth. Right now they expect a likely rematch between 80-plus something Sleepy Joe and the 80-minus something Donald.

Nothing better symbolises the decline of American democracy than the apparent dearth of talent available for its long-suffering citizens to choose from as their commander in chief.

At least the Terminator was subject to constant upgrades.

Politics in the United States seem caught in an endless cycle of decline and fall.