If Trump and Biden Do Run Again

If Trump and Biden Do Run Again

You walk into a voting booth next November and are confronted with this:

Ο     Donald J. Trump, Republican

Ο     Joseph R. Biden, Democrat (incumbent)

Or, before that, you turn on the Republican presidential primary candidate debate, and there at a podium stands Mr. Trump. Similarly, in a debate of Democratic candidates (if there even would be a contested primary), there is Mr. Biden, grinning.

It could be television advertisements, with each side’s ads bashing the other. It could be on Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC. Worst of all would be the negative social media posts. Trump. Biden. Trump! Biden! Trump!!! Biden!!! TRUMP. BIDEN. TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP. BIDEN, BIDEN, BIDEN. There they would be, wallowing in the campaign limelight. Maybe we should say swallowing the campaign’s light.

Can’t We Just Not Elect Them?

For those of you who missed Principle Based Politics’ event last week, it was an open discussion regarding the prospect of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump appearing atop America’s ballots in 2024 for a rematch of the 2020 election. It was a focus group of sorts.

We started, as all things must do, with Mr. Trump. Your humble blogger, moderating the event, raised the proposition that, first, if former President Trump persists with his announced plan to run, it will virtually guarantee that the Republicans will lose, and, more importantly, that November 2024 will not be a competitive election. Trump likely would win the Republican nomination in a split party, but he has lost significant support since being defeated in the last race. His baseless challenges to that election result and his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol were devastating to him politically. Mr. Trump almost surely would get demolished in the November 2024 general election.

Regardless of your views on Mr. Trump or party politics generally, an uncompetitive election is unfortunate. Competition is good: it forces candidates, like companies, to improve their product. In politics, that means offering better ideas that appeal to a broader group of voters, rather than to extremists. Competition also means the parties must nominate stronger leaders—people who are ethical, smart, prepared, and, yes, principled. In short, strong competition keeps the race honest.

Without strong competition from the Republican nominee, the Democratic nominee could be incompetent or an extremist and still win. Nearly any Democrat could beat Trump.

A second downside of Trump running is that the race will be mostly about him, about personality, about style, and about the past, rather than focusing on policy and the future. This is bad because America needs new, better, principled ideas for how to stabilize and improve our country.

Joe Biden standing for reelection is little better. President Biden has seriously low approval ratings, in large part because he and his party have swung farther to the left than Americans expected in 2020. Although many Democratic politicians interpreted the Biden win two years ago as a mandate for ultraliberal policies, it actually was nothing more than a denunciation of President Trump, the man. The 2020 election was a Trump personal defeat, not a showing of confidence in Mr. Biden or his policies.

Another problem with President Biden running again is that it would allow the Republicans–whoever they nominate–to have a totally negative campaign against him. The GOP then could offer nothing positive, no platform, no policies, no ideas, and simply run against the status quo. America needs parties and candidates with something constructive to offer.

Yet a third downside of Biden running is the depressing effect it would have on America. The psychological impact would be worst for younger Americans.  

Overall, Tuesday’s participants discussed the proposition that most Americans will be unenthusiastic and even woeful about a Trump-Biden rematch. This is the best leadership America has to offer? No, it is not. As someone recently noted, Trump is too much, and Biden is too little.

What Actually Can be Done

To prevent a rematch and bring in fresh leadership, our discussion last week surfaced a number of ideas.

Get in touch with your political party, and urge its leaders not to support the 2020 nominee again. Call or write your representatives in Congress to express this same point. Send this message to party pollsters and any surveyors who call. Leave helpful comments on party websites. Ultimately, make clear that you will not donate to either candidate, or to any party that supports these two men.

Also, post your concerns, nicely, on social media. Do not read or watch media outlets that seem biased toward one side or the other. Instead, seek to hear and understand both sides of every issue and every potential candidate.

Go to your local caucus, and speak out in favor of a better candidate. If Biden or Trump do eventually appear on your primary ballot, vote against them.

Not all participants in our open meeting last week agreed with each of these points, but that was the essence of our discussion.

Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics. 

Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.

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