As 2024 opens, the odds-on favourite nominees for the Republican and Democratic parties are President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. For the first time since the 1892 election, the incumbent president will face a previous occupant of the White House. Photo Credit: AP News.
As 2024 opens, the odds-on favourite nominees for the Republican and Democratic parties are President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. For the first time since the 1892 election, the incumbent president will face a previous occupant of the White House. In the late 19th century election, Grover Cleveland, standard bearer for the Democrats and president of the United States from 1885 to 1889, challenged the incumbent Republican Benjamin Harrison.
In 2024, if the polls are correct, Trump, who lost to Biden in 2020, will try to restore himself to the office he held from 2017 to 2021. Before we get to Election Day on November 7th, addressing several thorny issues will need to occur, and then many more are likely to surface. Let’s take them one at a time and try to understand why the replication of the 2020 election may be a disservice to the American public.
Issue 1: Age and infirmary
Americans are very concerned about Biden’s age. Most Republicans and Democrats do not want him to run. Unfortunately, no serious alternative exists for Democrats and their nominee, unless a health crisis intervenes, will be Biden. Actuarial tables tell us that a man 82 years old has about six to seven years of life left. That gives Mr. Biden enough time to live through a second term, but what does that look like?
The areas of primary concern are the onset of cognitive decline, incontinence, and falls. Biden exhibits two of these, and the third is likely since most men over 60 have some trouble with leaking because of the sheer force of gravity. Having a geriatric president posed challenges when Dwight Eisenhower had successive heart attacks in his sixties or when Ronald Reagan underwent cancer surgery in his seventies. The potential for far worse problems for a president in his eighties seems obvious. Can America afford to place its domestic needs, never mind its foreign policy, in the hands of a man whose age has diminished his capacity?
If things look murky for Biden’s future, let’s not forget Donald Trump turns 78 in June. The math there is also problematic. While Trump demonstrates greater coherency and capacity, the chances he faces a health crisis before the end of his term lies somewhere between when and where. Arthritis, cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis pose threats to Trump as he enters his ninth decade in 2026. Finding a silver lining in the health facts avoids detection. The vice-presidential candidates will face more scrutiny than ever as both parties roll the dice on two men far past their best-before date.
Issue 2: Legalities
Listening to the opposing sides in the legal context of both campaigns leaves anyone bewildered. Mr. Trump faces 91 felony counts arising from four indictments. According to Politico, the former chief executive’s legal troubles read rhythmic: “In Washington, D.C., he faces four felony counts for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. In Georgia, (Trump) faces 13 felony counts for his election interference in that state. In New York, he faces 34 felony counts in connection with hush money payments to a porn star. And in Florida, he faces 40 felony counts for hoarding classified documents after he left office and impeding the government’s efforts to retrieve them.”
Many of these charges are politically motivated with threadbare evidence. Suppose I indicate that to a progressive or person of the Left, I am usually tackled (figuratively to date) and penalized 15 yards for roughing the messenger. The ability to carry a conversation, exchange ideas, or reason with these folks ranks up there with explaining to a squirrel why he should get out of your cherry tree at harvest time. They are insistent Trump represents the greatest danger to democracy since Adolf Hitler. He has designs on overthrowing the US government, he will never leave office if elected, and he plans on carrying out retribution against everyone who opposed him during his first term or whoever he believes stole the 2020 election.
To counter these “inerrant truths” spits in the proverbially Democratic wind. On the other hand, suggesting to the MAGA crowd that some of these charges bear watching and could prove problematic for Trump elicits the kind of invective heard on construction sites. When calling out Trump for his sins, I know that fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Regardless, he faces legal exposure on some of these counts and dismissing every count out of hand as merely politics or political persecution does not wash. Many counts are nuisance charges brought by Democratic prosecutors looking to make a name or hoping to achieve enough publicity to run for higher office. Or be offered a television gig. But two things can be true contemporaneously. Some of the counts carry heft.
I would rely less on the classified documents case because Hillary Clinton likely did worse, Biden has troubles on this file, and Jack Smith has already proven his ability to fumble big-name cases. His case against former Kerry vice presidential candidate John Edwards failed, ending in a mistrial. As for the other Smith-led case, the evidence exists that Trump sought to overturn the results in 2020, but proving intent and finding him legally culpable for incitement are high bars Smith may not be able to reach.
The other two cases are intriguing. In Georgia, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s closest associate in 2020, has already been convicted and ordered to pay $148 million in a defamation suit two Georgia election workers brought against him regarding election fraud in 2020. Many of Trump’s close associates, including Mark Meadows, are rumoured to be willing to turn State’s evidence. If this proves true, Trump’s defence in Georgia could be in trouble.
As for Trump’s claim of immunity, much of this case will be precedent sending. The arguments will likely attempt to show that Trump exceeded his duties as president. Undoubtedly, the case will end up before the Supreme Court on appeal. There is no guarantee that a majority of the Supreme Court justices will see Trump’s actions during the period after the 2020 election as constitutional. Rather than calling me names, those in the MAGA crowd might do well to see what the Supreme Court rules before claiming Trump always acted within the law. Politicians are sometimes correct for the wrong reasons. These Democratic prosecutors are poorly motivated and even anti-democratic by nature. Unfortunately, Trump, far from a constitutionalist, has often believed that his intentions outweigh the law. He would not be the first to learn this lesson upon conviction.
As for Joe Biden, his and his family’s legal travails bear watching. Democrats and the dominant media like to claim that there is nothing to the charges, that the investigations have gone on for years, or Joe Biden just loves his son Hunter and tried to look out for him. Like the MAGA crowd that dismisses Trump’s legal problems, these elites, progressives, or Leftists simply do not want to acknowledge the legal snares Biden and his family have. The ceaseless work of the Republican congressional committee looking into this, without media support, has borne results. There are checks to Joe Biden’s account, payouts from foreign governments, and special appointments to influential positions for Biden family members that deserve a second look. Both candidates face significant legal peril, and it could be very damaging for the American electorate in 2024.
Issue 3: Ballot Access
Rulings in Colorado and actions in Maine have removed Trump from the state ballot. These decisions create more problems. Millions of voters across America believe Trump about the Democratic Party’s efforts to prevent him from campaigning in a fair election. These developments do not help. The Supreme Court has agreed to rule on these matters because a patchwork of initiatives are underway in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and other states to disqualify Trump. Chief Justice John Roberts will use persuasion and legal skills to ensure a unanimous vote. If the vote goes 8-1 or 7-2, he may be able to limit the impact, but a 6-3 vote with the conservatives all voting to overturn and the three liberals voting to uphold will assuredly create consternation on both sides. The strategy of closing access to Trump does not reside in the Democratic Party alone. The legal theory rests upon Trump’s actions as an insurrectionist on January 6th. The Court’s rulings on these and other issues will dominate the election cycle and make any result murky. Both sides are already preparing for legal challenges, litigious actions, and long battles in various jurisdictions. How can this be good for democracy in America?
In a different world, the candidates would better reflect a well-adjusted America, one not prone to relentless division. The country is coming apart at the seams. The American experiment may be drawing to a close, writing a new chapter, or reaping what it has sown over the past few decades. Whether or not the Constitution can respond to all these challenges will determine if the political mania of 2024 moves America to its next pinnacle or signals the end of Pax Americana at home and abroad.
Dave Redekop is a retired elementary resource teacher who now works part-time at the St. Catharines Courthouse as a Registrar. He has worked on political campaigns since high school and attended university in South Carolina for five years, where he earned a Master’s in American History with a specialization in Civil Rights. Dave loves reading biographies.