It’s Trump vs. Biden, like it or not. 2024 election will test America

Members of the USA TODAY Opinion team share their thoughts on what the Biden vs. Trump rematch may mean for the United States.


After the results of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, it now seems all but inevitable that Donald Trump will be the Republican Party nominee for president once again and face a rematch with President Joe Biden in November.

What does it mean for our nation and the world? Members of the USA TODAY Opinion team share their thoughts:

Biden vs. Trump rematch is a stress test for democracy

As much as I want Nikki Haley to somehow heave a last second Hail Mary that floats into the heart-shaped hands of Travis Kelce standing blissfully alone in the end zone, it’s not going to happen. It’s still technically the first quarter of the long Republican primary season, but this game is over. Taylor Swift has left the building.

I had breakfast with a much-younger friend in the cold, gray aftermath of Trump’s march through New Hampshire. My friend said he’s worried, for the first time in his life, that our nation can’t handle whatever results Election Day gives us in November. It’s not an irrational fear.

A new poll, conducted by Canada’s Angus Reid Institute, found that only 32% of Americans say they will “fully accept the results of the 2024 presidential election regardless of whether Biden or Trump wins.” And strong majorities of both Biden and Trump supporters say American democracy will be much weaker if the opposing candidate wins the presidency.

So the concerns about our democracy are broad and deep and − don’t overlook this last point − bipartisan.

But what can we do about it now that the electoral rematch so many of us didn’t want is upon us?

As an old school conservative, I say that the greatest platform for social and political changes starts with the individual. Want to save American democracy? Start by truly valuing the diversity of this nation and summoning the self-discipline to respect the neighbor who doesn’t think the same as you.

Turn off the talking heads. Shut down the social media. And find the courage to engage with someone whose life experiences and values don’t reflect your own. You don’t have to agree with them − it’s America, after all − but you can learn to respect the other.

New year, more Trump, Biden to endure: 2024 will show us what America wants to be. Our Opinion team is hopeful – and worried.

That’s not easy, of course, and it may be naive to believe enough of us will walk that path to make a difference. Yet, your doctor isn’t wrong when she says diet and exercise are the best vehicles for safeguarding your health, but all you really want are ice cream and the couch.

Our nation faces a stress test this year. I’m confident we’ll pass, if we come together.

Tim Swarens

More than 50 nations hold ‘super bowl’ of elections in 2024

The U.S. presidential election is not the only critical vote this year. The Associated Press says more than 50 countries are holding elections. The Atlantic Council counts nearly 80 in this “super bowl” of voting.

Either way, these nations are home to over 4 billion people, or half of humanity.

From Mexico to Russia, South Africa and Indonesia, what free voters and authoritarian regimes do in the 2024 elections will affect everything from wars to economies, climate change and human rights.

Another free and fair election: Taiwan’s voters choose democracy again, despite China’s disinformation and interference

Among the first to hold an election this month was Taiwan, where voters elected a president opposed by China because he rejects the communist neighbor’s claims over his democratic island nation. Happy early Lunar New Year! What a way to welcome the Year of the Dragon, which begins Feb. 10.

This circles back to Trump, whose presidential inauguration in 2017 was right before the Lunar Year of the Cock. That season’s depictions of rooster Trump, though, included one that reminded me of another cocky character: Humpty Dumpty.

Trump proved me right throughout his presidency by twisting words and events into lies. It’s straight out of “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” 

We know what eventually happened to that egg, but we don’t know who will master 2024. As we face months of Trump politically campaigning through his multitudes of criminal trial dates before we find out who our next president is, remember we’re not alone in this critical election year. Before it ends, billions of other voters worldwide are holding their breath, too.

Thuan Le Elston

Stop waiting for the Trump ‘fever’ to break

For nearly a decade, Americans have been told to watch for the “fever” that drives Trump to break.

It was never going to happen. The Trump fever burns as long as he lives.

‘The Trump Show’: How the former president churns trials to financially milk supporters

If Trump wins back the White House, it will be a pyre for the norms of the presidency that he didn’t scorch in his one term.

If he loses (again) it will be a conflagration of agitating rhetoric about how everything was rigged and a witch hunt and totally unfair and blah, blah, blah. 

You can expect Biden to push this message from now until November.

And here’s the part the president will leave out: He desperately needs the heat of Trump’s fever. It’s Biden’s only hope for a second term. Biden needs to revise his 2020 role as firefighter.

The Republican Party is incapable of extinguishing Trump. So many of the party’s biggest names denounced him after the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, laying the blame at Trump’s feet. Now they’ve back in line, dutifully swearing allegiance to the man, lest they suffer the burn.

Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis or Chris Christie could have confounded Biden for months, offering a clear option for something new.  

That’s why Biden celebrated Trump’s New Hampshire win Tuesday. He needs the same old Trump around, easy to inflame, always smoldering with a rage that could consume everything around him.

Trump has held every kind of position in the Republican Party since 2015 – an arc from early sideshow to provocateur to front-runner to preening victor to the sorest of losers to criminal defendant and (again) front-runner.

And he’s always been the same guy, running the same fever.

Chris Brennan

There is much more than democracy on the ballot

Biden gave his first campaign speech of the year near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, ahead of the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S Capitol.

He pounded his favorite theme: “Whether democracy is still America’s sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time, and it’s what the 2024 election is all about.”

Is it? 

The election is about a whole lot more. After three years of the Biden administration, other things are on the ballot, too, for millions of Americans.

The economy is on the ballot. Years of high prices are on the ballot. Illegal immigration and an insecure border are on the ballot. Costly new regulations are on the ballot. Unconstitutional policies and executive orders are on the ballot. 

Yet Biden and his advisers don’t want to talk about their failures. They want to make this election all about Trump, who is an easy target and drives Democrats batty.   

While I am still holding out hope that Nikki Haley can start winning in the Republican primaries, it’s looking more and more like a Trump-Biden rematch.

We conservatives want a choice: Trump wins New Hampshire, but if Haley drops out Democrats will get their wish. Don’t do it.

If that happens, Democrats will double down on how Trump, MAGA and Republicans in general are somehow on the anti-democracy bandwagon. Just as in 2016, they must be “fascists,” “racists” or in the “basket of deplorables.” 

The fact is most voters head to the polls because of the issues that affect them most directly – their quality of life, their jobs, their communities. And no matter how vile you may think Trump is, many people feel like their lives were better during his presidency. 

Boiling this election down to “democracy” may lead to some sexy sound bites (and take the heat off Biden), but it oversimplifies a complex situation – and threatens to further divide us. 

Ingrid Jacques

Time to quit bellyaching. Like it or not, it’s Biden or Trump.

As mystifying as it is for liberals like me – and, I’d bet, a good number of thoughtful conservatives as well – to imagine anyone in their right mind casting a vote for Donald Trump again … here we are.

And as mystifying as it may be for conservatives, thoughtful or otherwise, and a small-but-noisy swath of liberals to imagine why Democrats would trot President Joe Biden out for reelection … here we are.

Barring unforeseen developments on the GOP side of the fence – and with Trump in the mix, anything’s possible – Americans will have a choice in November between Biden and Trump.

Both are old. Each side finds the opposing candidate repellent.

But guess what? This is it, kids. The time for second-guessing candidate choices is over. It’s time to stop bellyaching and get to work.

From where I stand, Trump presents a clear and present danger to this country. He’s increasingly unhinged, he cares about nobody but himself and he already fomented one violent insurrection. Putting him back in power would cause untold harm, on top of the untold harm he has already caused by brainwashing a large swath of the population and convincing them the 2020 presidential election wasn’t legitimate.

Trump sexually abused a woman. Why don’t Republicans care?

I’m a lot more concerned about that than I am about Biden’s age, which happens to be only three years more than Trump’s. Frankly, the threat Trump poses, his ability to violently divide our nation, is the only thing I care about in this election.

Trump needs to be stopped, and the Republican Party needs to be defeated in a way that forces it to move on from MAGA madness and return to some form of sanity.

I get why a lot of people are unhappy with our choices, but at this juncture, they are what they are.

So buckle up, folks. Much is at stake. And we have work to do.

Rex Huppke

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