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The déjà vu-inducing 2024 US presidential election

Adam McCartan

Déjà vu, that mysterious feeling we have when we’ve been here before. We all get it, unexpectedly and often for no apparent reason. In this instance, we can surely point to the cause of our Déjà vu when watching the build-up to the US presidential elections. We’ve been through this before. Four years ago, during the 2020 Presidential elections. Biden vs. Trump, round 2 looks set to be coming to news screens near you. 


First, the incipient gas fire that will be the Republican Primaries. 


While there was wild speculation around who the front-runner for the Republican nomination would be, with many pointing to Ron DeSantis as the up-and-coming nominee, it appears that, once again, the populist poison of Donald Trump is prevailing. Currently, Trump stands as the front-runner in polls, with DeSantis a mile away as the next closest contender, 30 points behind Trump at the time of writing. 


The question is, how on earth has Trump maintained his almost hypnotic control over Republican voters? 


The simple answer seems to be that he has built an almost cult-like following within the republican party. Although not an especially large portion of the overall party, at around 20%, the MAGA faction is one of the loudest. Trump further seems to share the talents that most populists have of tapping into the base insecurities of the general public, and then cynically exploiting it. 

In the USA, for example, Trans rights have become one of the most significant areas of debate, with multiple states passing harsh anti-trans laws. Trump has effortlessly deployed harsh anti-trans rhetoric; just take the instance of him baselessly claiming that Gender-affirming healthcare was a cause of violence. He has further intensified and tapped into the overarching theme of 'anti-woke' neatly hamstringing DeSantis' main campaign issue.


On the Democratic side, well, what is there to say? 


It's doubtful that the party will vote to remove its incumbent from their presidential ticket. While there has indeed been some speculation about the appropriateness of allowing Biden (now 80) to run for a second term once again, it remains unlikely that either JFK Jr. or Marianne Williamson will feasibly win the nomination. Only once in US history has a sitting president not been renominated by his party; that was the 14th President, Franklin Pierce, who was not renominated due to his pro-southern stance and failure to tackle the issue of Slavery. 


What are the dangers of this 2020 rerun? 


Besides the obvious partisanship that now poisons all US politics from a local to a federal level, the biggest threat is another Trump presidency. 

Trump has proven himself through his actions following his electoral defeat and proven through federal indictments of him (3 to be exact) to hold, at best, a loose understanding of US democracy and, at worse, full-blown authoritarian tendencies. I subscribe to the latter. Trump has proven to be a dangerous drug for the republican party that endorsed and backed him in 2016 and through his presidency, and like all addicts, they are struggling to quit. 


Trump's first (and hopefully last) presidency damaged the fabric of US politics and social cohesion. His attempted Coup on January 6th was just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous insiders have detailed Trump's authoritarian tendencies; look at his administration's constantly revolving door, where he replaced anyone who dared to disagree with him.


Now, as someone from the United Kingdom, perhaps writing so partisan a piece on US politics is rich. However, I am a citizen of the world, and in today's world - far from Theresa May's stated view that it makes me a citizen of nowhere - what happens in the US will profoundly affect the rest of the world. We live on a globalised and interconnected planet. As one of the world's leading superpowers, the US has immense sway and influence on what happens. A second Trump presidency would be a disaster for the global community. He has indicated that he would likely withdraw support for Ukraine. Under his first presidency, relations with NATO allies became strained, and like Vladimir Putin in Russia, nuclear sabre rattling became once again commonplace. 


It is vital to the US and the wider world that the poison of Trump not be allowed to infect US democracy once again. 


Image: Getty Images

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