The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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The next president: A demagogue or a relic?

Evelyn+Pierce%2C+Graphics+Manager+%2F+The+Bucknellian
Evelyn Pierce, Graphics Manager / The Bucknellian

On Nov. 5, 2024, Americans will take to their nearest voting station to elect the next president of the United States. As Donald Trump consolidates power in the Republican primaries and Joe Biden does the same in the Democratic primaries, the 2024 election is shaping up to be one that is far too familiar to Americans. A Trump-Biden rematch is one that Americans are not looking forward to and given the choice between a demagogue or an ancient relic, who would be?

Americans are exhausted from the old candidates, the old chaos and the old political divisions. A recent CAPS-Harris report shows that 62% of Americans are not at all satisfied with the current presidential candidates and would like an alternative. Moreover, voter discontent can actually be seen during the buildup to November, expressed through two peripheral presidential candidates: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Nikki Haley.

The nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, RFK Jr. is an environmental lawyer and social activist who decided to throw his hat into the ring of politics. Kennedy is a former Democrat – now independent – who holds a mix of environmentalist and libertarian views, and on Feb. 9, 2024, announced on YouTube that he has initiated the process of forming a new political party called We The People. Kennedy claims that he’s forming the new party to leapfrog primaries and get directly on the presidential ballot in 2024 as the We The People nominee. His efforts reveal a weakness in voter certainty behind Biden; the oldest president in US history has been extensively criticized by Americans and the media alike on his age and mental fitness, and the fears are not to be dismissed. 

Biden struggles to deliver addresses to the American people without stumbling, mumbling and rambling. Also, in a damaging report by Robert K. Hur, a former attorney for the District of Maryland, the president’s memory was deemed “significantly limited” in multiple interviews regarding an investigation of Biden’s mishandling of classified documents. But unlike Biden, Kennedy provides an image of a more enthusiastic and passionate candidate that appears as a much more compelling option than Biden, despite being 70 years old himself. Moreover, a CAPS-Harris poll shows that if Kennedy was in the 2024 election, he would sap 15% of the popular vote from both Trump and Biden, putting Trump at 42% and dropping Biden to 35% (leaving 8% undecided).

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But in addition to left-wing infighting, Republicans have also been nicked by questionable voter unity. Nikki Haley, the 52 year old former Governor of South Carolina and Ambassador to the UN under the Trump administration, has been running an arduous campaign against the former president. Her campaign is based on heavy conservative ideology with common tropes like trickle-down economics and strict immigration, but with an emphasis on the need for a younger generation to take the reins of the US government. Haley has been battling Trump from state to state in the primaries, and has been able to acquire a strong financial backing from donors and a large media presence. And although she has not won any state, the amount of votes that she has received so far is impressive in itself when going against a former president, AP polling reports: “In SC, Haley won 39.5% of the vote to Trump’s 59.7%, and then also in NH, Haley won 43.2% to Trump’s 54.3% (missing percentages are found in marginal runner-up candidates).”

Found in the polls, there is an obvious hesitation among Republicans to choose Trump as their nominee, and exploring the roots of the party’s disunity, the reasons become obvious; burning $76 million of campaign donations on legal troubles ranging from fraud to insurrection, Trump is swamped with indictments and accusations. In addition, his conservative politics threaten to limit crucial services like abortion and promote hardliner Republicans in Congress to be unwilling to compromise on legislation. The divisiveness of Trump in Congress has caused fears of multiple government shutdowns, and turned Congress into a clown-show when the GOP failed multiple times to elect a Speaker of the House – a chamber where Republicans hold a majority. The former president bears numerous personal, political and legal burdens which spill over into his effectiveness as a politician. The man is a liability to not only the Republican party, but to the American people and nation. And when compared to Trump’s baggage, Haley can offer the Republicans a rebranding of their party and the removal of Trump as its overlord. However, her campaign has been failing to grow at the rate required to compete with Trump’s GOP influence. 

Despite agitations, American constituents are forced to comply with the two party politics of our presidential election and endure a Groundhog Day of the 2020 presidential election.

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