“Elections are always about the future.” Or, “Voters want to hear about what you’ll do for them, not what you’ve done for yourself.” Or, more simply, “What have you done for me lately.”
Pick a pundit or a highly paid campaign consultant and chances are he or she has a stack of notecards on their desk containing election-related cliches to employ when a momentary need arises. All of these stock phrases contain some grain of truth, more or less, but the truisms mostly serve as familiar filler for folks tasked with explaining complex concepts in the span of a sentence – or at most a paragraph.
As we mark the start of the first full week of December as well as the beginning of another “official” Republican debate week -- sans way-out-ahead frontrunner, former president Donald J. Trump -- anticipation builds for the arrival of the long-awaited 2024 election year. 2023, in many respects, has served as an agonizingly tedious dress rehearsal for opening night, which actually takes place over the course of months (sometimes known as the primary nominating season) next year.
This year can be summed up by another well-worn cliché: Hurry up and wait. Trump began 2023 with no announced challengers and a respectable lead over possible entrants into the Republican race. Over the course of months, the GOP contest gained participants and Trump’s lead only grew to where it is today, with most observers all-but ready to concede that he’s got the nomination locked up.
In politics, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over, which still gives hope to the not-Trump contingent of conservative and Republican primary participants who cling to the notion that Trump isn’t a certainty. The candidate himself seems to be shifting gears, slightly, to focus on his likely 2024 Democrat opponent, a man who looks hauntingly like his 2020 foe.
Naturally, Trump wants more, and he’s targeting one of president senile Joe Biden’s core constituencies for greater support. In an op-ed appropriately titled “I Will Make America Great Again for Young People” Trump himself penned at Newsweek last week:
“When I take the oath of office as the 47th President of the United States, I will rapidly rebuild the greatest economy in the history of the world so that young people can thrive and prosper. I will stop Joe Biden's inflation nightmare, increase energy production, massively reduce government spending, and bring down interest rates, so that young people can once again afford to start a family, buy a home, and plan for a great future—the basic building blocks of the American Dream. I did it before, and we will do it once again.
“I will also restore law and order in our nation's cities, empower our men and women in law enforcement, and stop the Radical Marxist prosecutors surrendering our cities to violent criminals. I will quickly secure our southern border to end the influx of deadly drugs into our communities. I will work to eradicate the scourge of drug addiction once and for all. And to further protect our young people, I will sign a new executive order to cut federal funding for any school pushing far-left content on our children.
“American voters have it within their power to quickly return our country to peace, prosperity, and strength—and no one will benefit from bringing that change to our nation's capital more than young people. That's why next November, tens of millions of young Americans will be casting their vote to end Joe Biden's failed presidency, and to finish the job of making America great again.”
We can only hope. Trump began his piece, which I recommend you read in its entirety, by citing poll numbers showing him competitive with an age group that traditionally adheres to the load of foul-smelling bovine excrement emanating from Democrats’ mouths. If you need further evidence of the deterioration of America’s academies of higher learning, just look at how their graduates vote.
So therefore, it’s smart of Trump to attempt to talk good common sense to younger voters, especially since surveys like the one Trump cited point to the lower age groups being open to an alternative message to the “We need to save the planet from climate change and don’t have babies, just march for abortion” nonsense of the Democrats.
And, what Trump wrote, is no joke to young people. If it’s challenging for the rest of us middle and older age folks to get by with Joe Biden’s prices and inflation, just consider what twenty and thirty-somethings are confronted with. Chances are, if they went to college, they’re saddled with tens of thousands in debt; a car payment, rents that have gone through the proverbial roof, a tight job market made more stressful through the presence of millions of illegal foreigners – and a government led by a president who plays footsie with the unproductive classes rather than encourages innovation and honest work.
Then there’s Biden’s constant flirtations with foreign regimes who’ve duped the hapless American leadership into dumping billions into fruitless wars. Do you still think American boots won’t hit Ukrainian soil? Would a young person bet his or her life on it?
That’s what’s at stake in 2024, and Trump is attempting to reach the persuadable youth vote to let them know there’s a choice in the next election, and to remind them what Democrats are really about. Want a good paying job, the prospect of a home and a family? Vote for Republicans. Let the liberals deal with “woke” causes, transgenderism and faux “racism” everywhere. That’s all they do, anyway.
Dumbing it down to the greatest degree possible for the nation’s youngest and therefore newest voters, those unversed in the day-to-day hard knocks of having to pay for stuff like food, rent (or a mortgage), car insurance, utilities – or taxes, etc. – the coming year’s presidential horserace could have a fascinating and new dynamic.
Could Donald Trump become the “cool” candidate in the 2024 race?
Before you laugh and dismiss cool-ness as a factor to this particular age group, harken back to the cult of personality that Democrats’ forty-something candidates (Big Bubba) Bill Clinton and Barack Obama fostered with the younger generations. Clinton, who most regarded as a near-genius with an incredible photographic memory, had mastered the “art” of politicking. The lip-biting “I feel your pain” proponent could wow audiences with his ability to relate to people.
Pick up the saxophone and play “Heartbreak Hotel” with a simple prompt? Clinton could do it.
Likewise, the “Big O” as he’s often referred to, traveled the country speaking to packed venue crowds who swayed and swooned to his every word, as though they were seeing The Beatles for the first time in 1964 or some revival-era preacher waxing on the power of God. “Hope and Change” didn’t mean squat in reality, but against the backdrop of good looks and charisma, who could resist?
Those of us who understood what electing a “community organizer” with a threadbare resume and nothing more than a golden speaking voice and dark-skin tone would mean resisted the onslaught. But we only had John McCain to put up against the public relations ambush. Obama was the “cool” candidate by a longshot and the race was over before it’d even started. Not even the addition of the young and energetic Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket could compete against the Obama “I’ll halt the rise of the oceans” wave.
In 2024, the phenomenon could be reversed. It’s not that Donald Trump’s few years’ difference in age makes him more palatable to the impressionable (and stupid?) youth, it’s the fact Trump appears young and vital compared to the broken-down, shuffling old goat currently in the White House. Trump plays up the image, too – he goes to sporting events, comments on pop artists and generally answers anything and everything that’s asked of him.
Biden is angry, confrontational, aggressive, moody, defensive and off-putting whenever someone asks him to dish on subjects outside his comfort zone. The chances to inquire about anything are few and far in between as well. Can you imagine Joe Biden grabbing a saxophone and belting out a well-known tune on late night TV – or touring the country appearing before large cheering crowds and pacing back and forth like a rockstar?
Trump’s rallies have their own style, of course, but his purposeful choice to conduct them mostly outside and encourage his supporters to come from all around lends the impression that he’s open to the people. Populism has a visual element, too, something that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama understood.
Will this knowledge bring young voters out in large enough percentages for Trump? About 11 months out from the 2024 election, it’s hard to predict. A million things can and will happen before next year’s ballots are filled out. For all we know, Democrats could have a different nominee. So could Republicans, if a “miracle” happens and party participants choose someone other than the 45th president to vie for the highest job in the land.
For some Americans, especially the youngest generation, elections are all about the future. An 18-year-old, first time voter next year would have been ten years old when Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Young folks were perhaps impacted the most from the government’s COVID lockdowns. Will they carry their hurt and anger with them into the voting booth?
There’s no secret why the current president is having difficulty securing voting constituencies that traditionally have favored Democrats. He’s the most visible symbol of a party with bankrupt policies, plays favorites and squelches individual talent at every street corner. Young voters want the same opportunities their parents had – and they clearly see there’s no future in a country led by senile Joe Biden.
Joe Biden economy
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January 6 Committee
Build Back Better
Marjorie Taylor Green
2024 presidential election