About one year from today, Americans will head to the polls to vote in the 2020 presidential election. While it’s impossible to truly predict anything that will drive our news cycle over the next year, it’s still worth wondering what will happen in the United States over the next year.
For the left, the coming year presents an opportunity to nominate a candidate who can defeat U.S. President Donald Trump by energizing new voters and winning back voters who supported the president in the 2016 election. For the right, the coming year is a chance to validate Trump’s political achievements and secure a Republican edge in policy-making for another term.
With regards to the primary process, The Bucknellian hopes that the overpopulated Democratic primary field will winnow down as soon as possible. The voters of early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire will likely have a great say in deciding this, but it’s imperative that the field narrows even before the primary process. This way, voters can evaluate a handful of candidates who have a serious chance of becoming president, rather than a dozen polling at less than one percent.
Perhaps the biggest questions we must consider in the lead up to the election refer to how we will approach its aftermath. Can we return to an era of civility? Or, is our partisan bickering so contagious that citizens will not be able to reconcile their differences to have a conversation across the aisle? How different will the country be on Nov. 4, 2020, the morning after the election?
The Bucknellian contends that, regardless of who is in office, our government and the American people would benefit greatly from an environment in which citizens can disagree with others but still have productive conversations about important issues. It’s unclear which election outcome would be more conducive to this result. Trump’s reelection could tone down rhetoric as both sides accept the outcome and Democrats potentially look ahead to 2024 during this lame-duck second term, but it could also add more fuel to the fire of polarization, especially for the left. A Democratic victory might usher back in civility after accomplishing their goal of defeating the head of the Republican Party, yet they would need to be careful about doubling down on this victory and drawing a similar ire from the right.
At the same time, The Bucknellian recognizes that as polarization continues, at least among the most politically active, some differences might be irreconcilable for now. Intense disagreement on social issues could leave little desire for common ground, regardless of the potential to establish it. This refusal to cooperate would have severe repercussions on American political discourse and prevent future policy action.
Only time will tell what the future holds for the country and the Trump presidency. As next November moves closer to reality rather than a distant date, The Bucknellian encourages students and citizens to become engaged in the political process, but also to be willing to listen to opposing sides of critical issues.