2024 U.S. presidential elections beclouded with anxiety

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Uncertainty and anxiety loom over the 2024 U.S. presidential election as the Iowa caucus on Monday kicked off the official race for the White House.

Only 31 minutes after the caucuses in the Midwestern U.S. state had begun Monday evening, former President Donald Trump was projected to easily win the first major test of the 2024 Republican primary race.The victory is seen as a boost to Trump’s momentum toward a potential rematch in November with the current Democratic President Joe Biden that could likely put the country’s institutions to an extreme test. “Trump has significant control of Republican primary voters and elites, and seems nearly a lock for the nomination,” David Redlawsk, James R. Soles professor and chair, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Delaware, told Xinhua on Monday.

“This is due to his remaking of the most active parts of the Republican party — those most likely to vote in primaries. Even if many Republicans (and most Independents) do not really want him, much of the GOP sees him as the only possible option to beat Biden, no matter what his flaws,” said Redlawsk.”The main thing that makes 2024 nearly unique is the fact that a former president defeated in the prior general election is running,” he said, adding that the only other time this has happened was in 1892 when Grover Cleveland ran and won, defeating Benjamin Harrison, who had beaten him four years before. “Having a former president running changes the election dynamics significantly,” he said. “The fact that it is Donald Trump adds to this since Trump clearly is signaling his lack of belief in the kind of democratic traditions that have defined the United States throughout its history.” On top of that, the fact that Trump has been indicted on many counts and is facing multiple criminal and civil trials also makes this election “entirely different from any that have come before,” said Redlawsk.

There are also efforts trying to remove Trump from the ballot in a handful of states. Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled last month that Trump is disqualified from competing in the race under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause, finding that he violated his oath with his actions around Jan. 6, 2021. Maine’s Secretary of State Sheena Bellows also disqualified Trump under the amendment. But Trump has framed his legal issues as political attacks, arguing he’s the victim of a “witch hunt” as he runs for another term.

In the case of Joe Biden, he is the incumbent president and as such the leader of the Democratic Party, according to Redlawsk. “There was really no one who could (or would) effectively challenge him since he decided he wanted to run again. It is rare for an incumbent to face a serious challenge in his own party so the Democrats have him regardless of voter enthusiasm,” he said.”A rematch between two old, disliked candidates is likely to come November and this is a result of partisan dysfunction and fracture,” said Samuel J. Abrams, professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College, and senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, in an interview with Xinhua.

“Both parties lack clear platforms or agreement on policies and priorities. Meanwhile, both have active presidents who want the Oval Office and are not thinking about party building and the good of the nation at present,” said Abrams. “Trump has no clear successor nor Biden and the race is now about their personalities, not policies and politics.””Moreover, we have a situation with incredibly low approval of both candidates and no new, real competition, suggesting low engagement and interest and thus low turnout — so the base that supported Biden, for instance, may not show up this time around. The question is will Trump stir up enough interest in the battleground states to win and it is too early to figure that out,” he said.

Abrams warned that “this election is quite dangerous for the nation and I worry about stability.” “On one hand, if Trump wins, he will be aggressive, not work with Democrats, and use the powers of the president to push through his agenda,” he said. “While some of his agenda is smart, the fact remains that compromise and shared governance have traditionally promoted stability, and failing to do that has economic, social, and political consequences.” “Should Biden win, he will have to demonstrate that he can set his party on a path forward beyond just beating Trump; how will the Democrats manage the economy, global affairs, civil unrest, etc; how progressive or centrist will they be; who will be the next generations of leaders?” said Abrams.

“I think that regardless of who wins, partisan rancor will continue and we will see unstable majorities emerge such that one party comes into power, becomes fairly extreme and pushes through policy which is unstable and not widely accepted only to be changed by the next administration,” said Abrams. “This does not bode well for the future — it is hard to invest, hard to plan … and civic life will decline with anxiety rising.”

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