Being a dedicated student of American history, I tried to think of a time in recent United States lore when there was such juicy and incessant speculation on whether two men who had previously or concurrently occupied the White House would run for “reelection”.
Short answer: I couldn’t come up with a single example. Granted my memory only goes back as far as Watergate (where I was about to enter grade school, but I distinctly recall the hearings interrupted or supplanted my favorite TV show, “Let’s Make a Deal”) and my educational background couldn’t supply other instances that made an impression -- but to declare we’re in uncharted territory as 2024 inches closer is quite the understatement.
One can hardly log-on to a respectable media publication (of which there aren’t that many, of course) without encountering a “Will Joe Biden run for reelection?” or a “Will Donald Trump really run again in 2024?” attempt at amateurish political prognostication. Heck, I’ve even done some assessment of the questions myself.
Americans are in this situation because the leaders of both major parties are either too old to seriously believe that they’re contemplating one, another arduous, energy-sapping presidential campaign and two, the fact that the voters might prefer someone else to head the ticket. Biden has fulfilled every expectation -- for failure -- that some of us foresaw before he even took power, and Trump, while certainly more popular than he was seventeen months ago, has not pulled clear of all doubters in Republican-land. And there are many -- not suspicious of his policies, but of the man himself.
Complicating the analysis even further, both Biden and Trump would likely face primary competitions, so it’s almost as though we’re back in 2016 when political junkies were treated (cursed with?) two simultaneous party nominating cycles featuring a more or less full slate of candidates vying for favor from their respective bases. At the time, Democrats were coming off a two-term Barack Obama presidency and Republicans entered the season without a “next in line” type candidate as the overwhelming favorite.
Former first lady, senator and Obama secretary of state Hillary Clinton was obviously viewed as the presumptive nominee-to-be for Democrats, but she endured a bigger scare than anticipated when old, crusty and cantankerous Democrat Socialist Bernie Sanders swooped down from (literal) left field and nearly wrested the party nod away from her. It was only the vast number of Democrat establishment “super” delegates that permitted ol’ Crooked Hill to sneak by.
There is no way Democrat leaders were going to tell a Clinton to step aside to create an opening for a kook like The Bern. Democrats were so confident that Americans craved another Clinton presidency that they gleefully overlooked the obvious-to-everyone-else fact that Hillary was an unlikeable wretch of a human being who repelled everyone she came in contact with.
Meanwhile, Republicans were still reeling from two successive losing presidential elections with lukewarm establishment candidates (“Maverick” John McCain in ’08 and flip-flopper Mitt Romney in ’12) and entered the 2016 campaign without a credible frontrunner. The ruling class media and party bluebloods deemed “Jeb!” Bush to be the heir apparent, but newcomer outsider Donald Trump quickly took the air out of a possible third Bush family presidency.
Joe Biden supposedly chose not to run in 2016, but here’s thinking Democrat poohbahs had already promised the slot to HRC when she gracefully bowed out in ’08 and agreed to play nice in a support role for Barack Hussein Obama. The Chardonnay swilling old battle-axe wasn’t about to move aside again. The dye was cast.
Which brings us to today, with incumbent senile Joe Biden insisting that he’s fully bent on running again at age 81 and 2020 runner-up Donald Trump throwing out strong hints that he’ll make a comeback of epic proportions at the ripe young age of 78. No one that I know of completely believes either one will really go through with it, which is why there are so many politicos trying to get an upper hand on the real truth.
Will Trump take the plunge? Frequent Trump basher and brazen former president critic Myra Adams wrote at The Hill last week that the brash New Yorker probably won’t end up running again because of “fear” and “fight”:
“[Trump's clinical psychologist niece Mary Trump] explained [in her Trump tell-all book], ‘It’s impossible for Trump to believe that he lost the election.’ That inability is why Trump can’t let go of 2020 and will tease a 2024 run for as long as possible. But, ultimately, Trump’s fear of losing is likely stronger than his willingness to take the risk. Moreover, during a second reelection campaign, the former president would be hard-pressed to use the same predictive excuse first heralded in a May 25, 2020, Politico headline: ‘Trump sees a ‘rigged election’ ahead. Democrats see a constitutional crisis in the making.’ …
“Usually, the 45th president loves fighting, but fighting for his party’s nomination is now beneath his stature and shows weakness. Thus, King Trump wants and believes he deserves the 2024 crown delivered to his Mar-a-Lago palace on a blue satin pillow. Meanwhile, a fighting bench is forming with numerous former and current officeholders unlikely to bow to Trump’s crowning demands. Most prominent is former Vice President Mike Pence, who is actively ‘campaigning’ focusing on ‘the future.’
“To recap: Trump won’t run because he fears losing and does not want to fight for the nomination…”
Before you dismiss Adams as yet another anti-Trump moron whose hatred has clouded her vision as well as her judgment, it’s fruitful to admit that hers is, at the very least, an interesting theory. The Hill writer first suggested that Trump never gives in on any point or acknowledges that he loses anything because Donald’s father, Fred, reportedly drilled it into the young man’s head to never concede defeat, thus instilling an immovable fear of losing into the lifelong real estate developer, tabloid celebrity and reality TV star.
Looking back on Trump’s political career, this would appear to be the case, at least on the surface. Trump certainly lost some primary voting states to rival Ted Cruz in 2016 but often had difficulty accepting that he’d come up short. His primary night speeches were fairly perfunctory: congratulating the victor for a win but not quite confessing that the results were legitimate, as if it weren’t even possible for him to actually lose. The same thing happened on Election Night, 2020 and in the days following that fateful day.
In Trump’s mind, it wasn’t fathomable that voters could like someone else better. Was it ego or a more-than-solid confidence in his own invincibility? Or was it that Trump was on to something? Establishment media writers and commentators, of which Adams definitely fits the description, repeatedly insist that Trump’s obsession with 2020 defies reality. They’re awful sure Trump “lost” so they always include hubristic boasts like “Trump’s false claims” in their articles and commentaries.
As I’ve argued quite a lot lately, it looks as though Trump did lose, but there are enough discrepancies -- such as those documented in the movie “2000 Mules” -- to keep the subject alive. These inconsistencies need to be investigated, thoroughly, and without Trump’s persistent harping on them, maybe they wouldn’t be otherwise.
I don’t think Trump fears losing as much as he’s apprehensive that, at his age, that he could maintain the same energy level that he’s always exhibited. Trump sees Biden struggling mightily in his late 70’s, and although everyone’s different in individual abilities, the 45th president isn’t completely convinced that he could do the job in 2025 that he started in 2017. This is just my opinion.
Does this make him “fearful” or merely practical?
Adams went on to assert that Trump “fears” losing because he doesn’t want to “fight” for the nomination and the presidency again. It does seem like more Republicans are coming out of the shadows to potentially challenge Trump in the 2024 primaries, but to a man (or woman) they all concede that if Trump wants the nomination for a third time, he’d almost certainly win it. It's curious how Adams mentions Mike Pence as “actively campaigning.” Maybe she knows something that I don’t, but Pence isn’t acting like a man who has predetermined to run against or instead of Trump in 2024. The former vice president did back Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s primary candidacy (against Trump’s choice, former Senator David Perdue) two weeks ago, but this is one localized race in a nation full of contests -- hardly indicative of a movement.
By anyone’s estimation, Pence would have a huge uphill climb to unite the GOP behind him, especially when Trump himself controls so much of the party’s voter base and would more than likely back someone else if he decided not to run himself. Therefore, Pence is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Hence, the “fight” really isn’t a factor here. If anything, Trump relishes a fight and never, ever, backs down from one. He’s much more likely to pick a fight rather than run away from one. Even if Trump decides against running in 2024, he still will be very, very involved. Whomever ultimately wins the GOP nomination will have Trump’s blessing, for sure.
Whether or not Donald Trump reenters the political fray in 2024 will remain a mystery until the former president himself clarifies the picture with an announcement. In the meantime, Trump’s backers and detractors will take turns proffering theories and personal insights to solve the puzzle. The same goes for senile Joe and reelection in 2024.
Right now, 2024 seems like a very long time away.
Joe Biden economy
Democrat welfare bill
Build Back Better
13 House Republicans Infrastructure bill
Marjorie Taylor Green
2024 presidential election