There's a handful already talking about 2024. My prediction is for Ted Cruz. He's been the smartest one of the lot all along.
As for Trump, he will be remembered for what he kept others from doing than for what he did, a negative role but perhaps necessary in the larger scheme of things
Possibly. The thing is that if Trump decided to run again, and if he is out of jail he will need the money. he will take out Cruz.
I have three names that I believe have made strategic decisions to hide for now in order to run in 2024.
One is Jeff Flake of Arizona. He may try governor instead but he is a good guy and can play on the "true conservative" line.
The second is Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. He is a known commodity and has mostly avoided controversy. He is a Rand-roid and can lay claim to the popular but mostly meaningless label "libertarian". This is popular mostly with people who have no clue what it means but think it has something to do with Guns and immigration. (It does but not at all in the way these people believe it does.)
The third is Romney. He has been positioning himself as the anti-Trump. If Trump should take a criminal fall Romney will suddenly look very good.
As for Trump if he runs again or not, he’s going to be a force in terms of shaping future political candidates and the alternative narrative to the media, which is just an extension of the Democrat party.
It would look that way to you. You, unlike the mainstream media, are happy to overlook Trump's lies, inaction and general sloth. I suppose you include the largest cable news outfit, Fox, in the "liberal media group? You may want to do that. Fox is running as fast and as far from Trump as it can. Many of the hard right media platforms have noted that Fox is turning left. They cite Hannty's softball interview with DeBlasio as an example. Or the firing of a couple of hard right personalities. They should turn a bit left too. They had become a laughing stock and they backed the wrong horse. Advertisers are not happy with them either. Tucker Carlson (a major loon anyway) lost T-Mobile and Papa Johns over his racist and inflammatory comments about Black Lives Matter.
...and the Populist/Nationalist Third isn't going away,
I agree with one caveat. This group is pretty fickle. They do not always support Republican party rhetoric. The Tea Party faction of the Republican Party, which includes many if not most of this Populist/Nationalist group, has been a pain in the ass to the Republican Party, which cannot live without them. I could easily see them fleeing to a third party position similar to the Ross Perot movement a few years back.
So. It could be Cruz but I think he will fall to in-fighting. He is a tad thick and has the charisma of a limo driver. I actually met him once. I was on a plane with him coming home from DC through Dallas. He few coach. Good on him for that. He failed to defend his won wife from attacks by Trump so shame on him for that. Right now I could vote for either Flake or Romney under the right circumstances.
Trump fights to the very end, and shows people that Liberalism can be beaten,
Woah!! When Biden was elected liberalism WAS beaten and it was not Trump who did it. Biden is FAR from a liberal and Harris even less so. She is a hard-bitten prosecutor. When Bernie was pushed aside that was the end of liberalism on a national level. There are a few liberals in congress but very few.