Sorry, We Won't Be Having A 'Normal' Presidential Campaign In 2024
Here’s a word we’re not going to see much of over the next 14 months: pivot. You remember that word from previous presidential election cycles, don’t you? It’s intended to describe what candidates do after they’ve won the primaries and are about to enter the general election period, usually right after their party’s nominating convention. This time, there won’t be anything to pivot from.
Come to think of it, there’s another word we’re not going to hear much of next year: convention. Usually, a glowing pinnacle of the four-year presidential cycle for both political parties in this country, Republican and Democratic, the convention is something party regulars work toward attending as delegates throughout their political lives. For many, it begins with the grunt work they put in as College Republicans or Democratic Party campus activists, followed by years in the trenches working for candidates, often beginning at the lowest levels of elective office. From there, they grunt-work their way up the party’s structure to work for candidates for state rep or state senator, thence to congressional campaigns in their districts, maybe even up to the vaunted state-wide races for the U.S. Senate or for state governorships. Under usual circumstances, this can earn them a slot as a delegate to the national convention, pledged to the candidate they supported in the primaries.
All of that stuff is out the window for 2024. President Joe Biden’s convention will be what they have always called a coronation because he is the incumbent president running for reelection. As such, there won’t be any jockeying for support and the kind of drama that is attached to what you might call a regular convention. Many of the Democrats tapped to attend the 2024 Democratic Convention will have attended the last one, supporting the same candidate, Joe Biden. In the American political system, it’s part of a curious rewards system whereby you get to spend your own money to reward yourself for work you did on your own dime as a volunteer for the last four years. You get to buy yourself some funny hats, reserve an over-priced hotel room, fly on a crowded airplane to a city you wouldn’t otherwise visit, and attend a series of breakfasts and lunches and parties, and oh, yeah, sit in a big convention center and listen to speeches for three nights so you can be present for the big balloon drop as President Biden is renominated.
The Republican Convention will be much the same with one crucial difference: The ticket to become a delegate will have one price, loyalty to Donald Trump. That’s it. There will be people at the Republican convention who never opened an envelope or manned a phone bank for a state rep in their lives, because all they had to do to get to the convention was be a part of the right-wing mob that has taken over one state Republican Party after another, and in the case of states like Michigan and Arizona, survived the blood-letting that is right now taking place over who controls the state party. I give you one guess who’s winning those fights, even as we speak: MAGA supporters of Donald Trump. Loyalty, see? For Republicans in 2024, it’s the only test that matters.
So, what kind of a political year are we going to have? A year like no other, that’s what. Here are some other words you’re not likely to hear much of as November of next year approaches: poverty, pollution, environment, income distribution, education, mass transit…you get the picture. Those are, of course, issues, relics of another time in this election year, I’m afraid, because this year, there’s going to be only one issue: who wants to elect a quadruple-indicted – potentially, even a convicted felon – as our president, and who doesn’t.
We may as well start thinking about what we might call the Ecuadoran Option. In the event that Defendant Trump were to die between now and November 5 of next year, there’s a good chance a significant movement will erupt among the MAGA faithful to vote for the dead guy, that’s how ineradicable the loyalty may turn out to be.
To the extent that Defendant Trump will have anything you could call, with a straight face, a campaign, it will consist only of relitigating the last election, not only because that’s what he’s been doing for nearly three years, but because that’s what he will be forcibly engaged in for the next year or more. It really doesn’t matter which one of his quad-indictments goes to trial first. In fact, what is now being called the “Stormy Daniels Trial” on 40 counts in New York City will probably be tried first, and despite the fact that he’s technically being tried for violating business reporting laws, in reality, it’s just another re-litigation of yet another election, this one 2016, which like 2020, and 2024 for that matter, Trump says was rigged against him. In fact, the only word he can’t use to describe 2016 is “stolen,” which must drive him crazy, because there’s just nothing better for a grievance-monger than to claim that something that was rightfully yours was stolen from you. And you can’t do that when you won.
So, it’s come to this, folks. We’re going to have a presidential election dominated by one thing and one thing only – the trials of Donald Trump. It will be full-employment not for what cable news likes to call campaign strategists, but for lawyers who used to be white collar defense attorneys or prosecutors. That’s the commentary we’re going to be listening to. Remember white papers? Those lonely, largely un-read statements by candidates about where they stand on the issues of the day? Forget ’em. We’re going to be poring over legal motions of every conceivable sort, and then poring over judges’ rulings on the motions, and then wading our way through appeals of those rulings, and maybe, if we’re really lucky, appeals of the appeals.
Defendant Trump, when he is not required to be in a courtroom somewhere, will of course find time for rallies, during which he will regurgitate his claims of having been wronged, and in order to parade his grievances, he will indulge in explaining his so-called true facts of the cases against him – all those dead people voting, the suitcases of fake ballots, the voting machines designed by Hugo Chavez. He might even haul out that old favorite about bamboo fibers in mail-in ballots that were somehow shipped all the way from China to Arizona to steal the election from him in that state.
And then we’ll hear legal experts slice and dice his claims to show which ones can now be used in an upcoming case against him as more evidence of his crimes. Won’t that be fun?
Will any of it matter? Who knows what lies in the hearts of the 74 million who voted for him last time around? But you know what? We’re going to learn just how many of our fellow Americans, up to their necks in floods, burned out of their homes by wildfires, freezing in their homes due to power outages, inhaling poison gases of train wrecks, squinting through dust storms, and lying unvaccinated in ICU’s on ventilators from the latest strain of COVID, still support him.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
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