President Biden announced on April 25th, 2023 that he will seek for a second term as the U.S. president, asking voters to keep him in office and “finish the job” of a historic American recovery that started after he defeated Donald Trump in 2020. This announcement was not a surprise since traditionally the U.S. president will seek a second term for fulfilling his or her own mandate and accomplish more achievements for the nation and his or her political party to justify the party’s leadership to continue serving the nation in the position of the presidency as well as other elected positions. At this point, Biden’s approval rating is in the low forties. His Vice President, Kamala Harris has an even lower rating in the thirties. Therefore, the title question naturally will pop into the minds of voters of both parties and independents. In this article, we shall try to find answers by analyzing the current political landscape and what may influence the outcome of the U.S. 2024 presidential election.
In a fundraising letter to the Democrats, Biden raises the value card again, asking his party members to defend democracy. First, let’s assess his own value as an incumbent candidate for the U.S. presidency. Biden is 80 years. Age is not a deciding factor for public office; however, health is an important consideration. Biden’s ‘missteps’ such as stumbling off stairs when disembarking a plane, appearing getting lost in where he is going in the White House, shaking hands with thin air, and making mistakes or repeating non-sense in his speech have been noticed enough times to raise concerns about his health. He assumed that Trump would be his opponent and he would beat Trump again. But in comparison, Trump exhibits more energy than Biden. In terms of accomplishments in his first term, his rating tells a lot, especially in foreign affairs - supposedly his strength. His Democracy summit with ASEAN and Latin American countries had little to show for it. The fundamental reason is that the U.S. democracy has not demonstrated an ideal model, rather it exhibits government inefficiency, bi-partisan bickering and impasses, incompetent political leaders, and hypocritical foreign policies.
Biden’s Vice President not only adds no value to his second term campaign; but may be a liability. The White House rumored that a program to pump up Harris's rating has been launched. Though media play an important role in presidential elections, Biden and Democratic Party are facing an uphill battle. For one, the youth votes Biden had won in 2020 seem to have waned away. Internationally, we have Rishi Sunak (an Indian descent) risen to be the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Leo Varadkar (partly Indian) serving as the Taoiseach of Ireland, which do not give Americans any more sentiments to welcome Harris (partly Indian and partly black) to replace Biden. In fact, Harris’s unpopularity adds to the concern of Biden’s age. So, for Democrats, there appear to have no alternatives for the 2024 presidency until new challenger surfaces….
On the Republican side, Trump seems to be the front-runner and holds the GOP party support. A recent survey on Congressional endorsement for the potential presidential candidates showed the following result as of April 19: Donald Trump (R former President), Ron DeSantis ( R Gov. Florida), Kerry Healey (R former Lt Gov. Mass), and Tim Scott ( D Sen. NC), they got endorsements from the House as 45:3:1:0 with 176 not yet endorsed and from the Senate as 9:0:0:1 with 39 not yet endorsed). Although this is an early result subject to change, it did signal that there is not likely a Democratic alternative to Biden and no Republican alternative to Trump at this point. However, on April 19, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. announced his candidacy for the 2024 Presidency. RFK, Jr., the nephew of John F Kennedy and son of Robert F Kennedy, who was assassinated during his bid for presidency in 1968, does have a name recognition. Will RFK, Jr. be an alternative for Americans?
RFK, Jr. announced his candidacy with two powerful slogans that may resonate with Americans: “Tell the truth” and “Heal the divide”. These two phrases frankly state the problems of American politics and hit on the head of Biden’s faltering democracy, ineffective cures of domestic ills and failed foreign policies, and Trump’s divisive tactics, near-lies tweets, and unilateral irresponsible behaviors in conducting foreign affairs. This author welcomes RFK, Jr. to enter the presidential race, but he is not certain at all that RFK, Jr. is an alternative for Americans. First, he is not an experienced politician, it is doubtful he knew how to handle the ‘American divide” never mind “heal the divide”. He said he would make a mission to fight the merger of State and corporate power which has formed a feudalism in our country. But the American divide is not only among the states, between the states and federal, and between the parties. The real divide is between the poor and the rich as well as among different activist groups advocating contrasting and opposing ideas. RFK, Jr. is an activist himself as an anti-vaccine activist and environmental lawyer taking sides in the divide.
As a Democrat, he has a hurdle to win over all Democrats’ support including the Kennedy family. (Some of the Kennedy family did not come to his campaign announcement) Still, more than 500 people filled the seats with several hundred standing receiving his campaign speech and pamphlets, signs, and bumper stickers. Among the Democrats, there was resistance to his presidential bid citing his anti-vaccine stand, but how would you compare that with Trump’s casual vaccine statements? This signifies the deeper issue of ‘the divide in democracy’. Democracy is inherently divisive as individual rights and freedom are promoted. It requires knowledge, humility, and tolerance to understand controversies and form agreeable opinions. As the world is advanced, people and societies face complex issues, simple democracy by having everyone cast one vote is not the best solution.
Looking forward to the 2024 presidential election, it is not optimistic that we shall have an alternative for Americans to vote for. The divide is likely to persist. We hope though with more candidates like RFK, Jr. joining in the election process, we will hear more voices. Media will have more truth to report rather than playing the ‘divide war’ to earn campaign ad dollars. American voters get more opportunities to educate themselves on issues and be more patient to hear the opposite opinions. Don't let politicians lie and blame foreigners for our government's incompetency. People want and deserve capable and honest public servants. Let's have alternatives!