The upcoming U.S. presidential election might already seem like déjà vu, but in many ways it will be unprecedented. What’s in it for the rest of the world?
This article was produced exclusively for News Decoder’s global news service. It is through articles like this that News Decoder strives to provide context to complex global events and issues and teach global awareness through the lens of journalism. Learn how you can incorporate our resources and services into your classroom or educational program.
The world’s oldest democracy is sailing into uncharted waters toward the 2024 U.S. presidential election campaign.
I use the word “sailing” only to maintain the metaphor. “Lurching” probably is a more apt description. Seventeen months before American voters go to the polls to choose their leader for a four-year term in the White House starting on 20 January 2025, the outcome is anyone’s guess what will happen.
The polls at this point suggest the electorate is not wild about how the race is shaping up. But the stakes are enormous not only for the United States but also the world. The Democratic Party generally favors a globalist foreign policy with the U.S. playing a leading role in the international community while the Republican Party is increasingly isolationist.
America’s current president, Democrat Joe Biden, officially declared his candidacy for re-election late last month.
At 80, Biden is the oldest U.S. chief executive ever. He would be 86 at the end of a second term. Not surprisingly, age looms as a major negative for Biden. According to the actuarial tables, the life expectancy of 80-year old American males is just over seven years.
Will it be Biden v. Trump again?
Donald Trump, whom Biden soundly defeated in 2020 despite Trump’s continued protests to the contrary, announced late last year he’d seek a rematch.
Trump is no youngster. He’s 76. But he confronts a bigger negative than age: he faces serious legal jeopardy for actions during his presidency and before. A recent editorial cartoon labelled “2024 Presidential Race” showed Trump in a track suit running from the police.
Although the polls clearly show that Biden’s fellow Democrats aren’t crazy about his running for a second term, he currently faces no serious opposition for renomination.
Trump has a couple of declared challengers for the GOP nod — former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Senator Tim Scott from the state of South Carolina.
Several others, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, are potential challengers. But the Republican Party’s conservative base still seems to prefer Trump, and political prognosticators regard him as the favorite to get his party’s nomination.
Would U.S. voters give the presidency to a convicted criminal?
Seventeen months is a lifetime in U.S. politics. What we know now about the 2024 U.S. presidential race could easily turn upside down overnight.
A long list of national and world events could be the change agents. The biggest imponderable: how will Trump’s diehard supporters react if Trump faces jail time? He’s already under indictment in New York. More, potentially far graver, charges are possible in the state of Georgia and at the federal level.
Even before the New York indictment was handed down, Trump suggested that filing charges against him could result in violent unrest.
He wrote on his Truth Social social media platform: “What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed & also known that potential death and destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country.”
Other potential political game changers include but are not limited to Russia’s war on Ukraine, China’s designs on Taiwan, North Korea’s effort to become a nuclear super-power and/or an escalation of violence in the tinderbox that is the Middle East.
One has to go back to the 1960s when the United States was beset with race riots in many major cities, an unpopular war in Vietnam and the threat of a nuclear holocaust triggered by America’s confrontation with the old Soviet Union to find anything similar to today’s conditions.
Three questions to consider:
- Why are many voters worried about a second term for U.S. President Joe Biden?
- Why does the author describe the 2024 election as “unchartered waters”?
- What relevance does the U.S. presidential election have for other countries?
Gene Gibbons covered U.S. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton during his career with Reuters and UPI. He was past president of the Radio-Television Correspondents Association and served as a Presidential Debate panelist in 1992 and as a Joan M. Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2010. An ex-U.S. Army officer, he once served as press aide to U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey. He is the author of the book "Breaking News: A Life in Journalism."
Read other News Decoder stories about the U.S. presidency here: