Let’s Get Really Real

That sickening feeling you have in the pit of your stomach when you think about (or perhaps are forced to think about) the 2024 presidential election is, unfortunately, based in reality. Most sickening feelings are. And, like all things that bother us—from little mental disturbances to sickening feelings—we summon all manner of coping behaviors to rid, or at least quell, the trepidation. In this manner, we are only guilty of being human. But in this case, the stakes are simply too high for coping strategies. Action must be taken, and soon.

As one who has studied the American presidency well beyond what might be considered normal (let alone healthy), trust me when I say my concerns regarding 2024 are rising each day new data comes out. Although I routinely comfort myself as you might with the old axiom “in a democracy you get the government you deserve,” to grant myself a false sense of cheap absolution, the presidential election in 2024 may be the grand finale of a process underway since 2016 when the American experiment of a democratic republic could ring its final bell—its death knell. Like you, I can argue endlessly about why this shouldn’t be so, but data suggests the risk is real.

Yes, I am pulling the fire alarm.

It is time now, before it is too late, to get really real. Here are the ‘reals’ today.

  • The vast majority of Americans do not want to see either Trump or Biden run for president again. If they are the nominees, watch voter turnout plummet—more so for Biden. Not even lightning-rod issues like the Dobbs ruling are likely to affect turnout unless associated with a state-level initiative. In a Biden/Trump rematch, apathy will receive the most votes.
  • Less than 50% of Americans see either Trump or Biden as being “mentally capable” of holding the office of the presidency (only slightly more than one-in-three for Biden). For Trump it’s a character issue, for Biden it’s an age issue. Neither are seen as worthy.
  • Whomever holds the spotlight the longest has the greatest chance of winning. For reasons that should probably be left to psychoanalysts or crystal gazers, dominating media airtime and social media feeds today—regardless of message content or veracity—leads to victory.
  • If the election were held today, it’s a 50/50 tossup; it’s a coin toss on who returns to the White House. Yes, a twice-impeached former president with 91 felony charges against him is running neck ‘n neck with the incumbent president who probably has never had a parking ticket. A Trump/RamaswamyMTGLakeNoem administration will make Putin’s regime seem flaccid, except that under Trump the victims will be mostly innocent Americans.

To my Democrat friends, I know, it doesn’t seem fair. I have heard all your “Yes, but …” arguments regarding Biden’s accomplishments and vitality. But the game of politics is seldom fair. Get over it. Get real. And, demand a change of course in your party before it is too late.

Being elected president in the United States is no longer based in a substantive evaluation of the candidates. Today, it is largely performative. In the elections of yesteryear, it was also performative to a lesser degree, but since 2016 it has become nearly completely performative, which is to say facts regarding policies and their actual or expected outcomes—the substance—doesn’t matter; neither does the truth. When was the last time you heard Trump take a policy position? His legal troubles are his campaign and it’s working! Thanks to MSNBC, CNN and, ironically to a lesser extent, FOX, he is constantly the lead story. Presidential elections have become a clown show of grandiosity and while the electorate is growing tired of stale popcorn and the putrid smell of cotton candy, let’s get really real: this is the way it is today.

If Democrats want to win, here is what they should do for the good of their party and America. I also have suggestions for the Republicans, but why waste the ink? Sadly, their cowardice is beyond reproach.

  1. Joe Biden should immediately announce he will not run for president in 2024.
  2. Further, he should take the next 60 days to evaluate candidates to replace himself concluding in his recommendation about who should be considered as the next Democratic nominee. A baton passing that respects Biden and his administration. Care should be taken to involve respected thought leaders in the process and to maximize media coverage by giving frequent updates. Push Trump off American’s screens.
  3. A series of debates should immediately follow with all viable candidates (regardless of Biden’s recommendations). I can see a stage with candidates like Buttigieg, Whitmer, Newsom, Polis, Harris, etc. Young(er) aggressive candidates who can attract media attention and generate turnout from key demographics, especially 18–34-year-olds and African Americans who can make the winning difference next November.
  4. Then, the primaries as scheduled, followed by the convention next summer. Let the cream rise to the top and retake the spotlight from the Trump-MAGA sh*t show.

This process completely changes the cringe-worthy prospect of another Biden/Trump election, pushes Trump and the possibility of a third party No Labels candidate (which would assure Biden’s defeat) further from view, and might even return focus to the needs of Americans and America’s place in the world—back on the table where they belong. (Perhaps even reestablish the value of substance.)

In my view, this is America’s best hope. The Democrats need to put the future of our country in their hands. As of today, I fear they are sleep-walking into a catastrophic outcome from which America may never recover.  Are taking these steps risky? Of course they are. Not as risky as what the Founders embarked upon in 1776, but yes, risky. The reality is a coin toss is not acceptable given what is at stake. If there was ever a moment failure was not an option, this is the moment. If you have anyone’s ear in the Biden camp and/or the Democratic Party, please speak up.

Time is of the essence.