I was out running errands about a week ago and decided to stop at Panera to get some coffee. As I paid, I bumped into an old friend I hadn't seen in a few years. Knowing that both of us were independent voters but left-of-center leaning, we had some catching up. We talked about the state of our economy and the upcoming election next November. I've enclosed our dialogue over several cups of coffee.
Peter: I like Biden as President, and he's accomplished significant things but is too old to run again in 2024. He sometimes gets confused about dates and leader names, and the fact that he shuffles adds to this narrative. At this point, there's a perception that he's an old model, and there's nothing he can do to shake this opinion. I think a lot of Democrats feel that way, and he'll be 81 at the election; it's time for new blood. In a nutshell, that is the current political dilemma Biden and the country face.
Kevin (me): I don't necessarily disagree; up to 50% of the electorate views Biden's age
negatively. How do you dispel that narrative and thought among many Americans? He may not survive this term or the next, and VP Harris is on deck. If Biden is determined to run again next year, he must dump Harris (nominate her for attorney general or Supreme Court) and pick Gretchen Whitmer or Amy Klobuchar as his running mate. Two competent female leaders can lead if something happens to President Biden.
Peter: He's so feeble; regardless of his accomplishments, the image projected is controversial. Yes, he balances well when riding a mountain bike, but there's more to this job than riding a bicycle. Even though he's working for the American people, he doesn't project vigor and strength.
According to the CNN poll in September this year, 67 percent of Democrats would prefer Mr. Biden not be renominated. Even if the survey is a little skewed, a very high number of people who supported him in 2020 are leary about him running again in '24.
Kevin: I agree. When you see Biden stumbles; it's no big deal. Many of us stumble or trip from time to time. But when it's accompanied by shuffling his legs, you begin to wonder. In addition, when he gets confused during a press conference (or doesn't do many), you're convinced his best days are gone. I begrudgingly say that because he's trying to do his best with the hand that was dealt to him.
Peter: I worry that if Trump is not the nominee, let's say it's Nikki Haley. Then how will Biden handle that challenge? On the debate stage, she'll run circles around him. If that occurs, swing voters who hate Trump, moderate conservatives, and religious voters will get behind her candidacy. In contrast, disillusioned by the Biden administration, younger voters will either stay home or vote for a third party.
And remember, this week, Americans for Prosperity (Koch Network) supported Nikki's campaign. There may be gradual momentum to increase Haley's chances, one prominent donor at a time.
Kevin: God help us if it ever gets to that point.
Peter: At the very least, Harris needs to go. We need to excite the Democratic base to come out and vote – especially among younger voters.
Kevin: I concur; get rid of Harris at the bare minimum. I read the comments in the left-leaning Nytimes.com, and it's incredible how many liberal-leaning folks want to get rid of Harris. She could speak better, and one wonders what she has done as VP during the last three years. She may have helped in 2020, but besides Biden's age, she'd be a significant drag on the ticket. Some electorate can't pinpoint why she's unlikeable except to say they don't want her on the 2024 ticket.
Peter: I am trying to remember why Biden picked her in 2020.
Kevin: In March 2020, Biden pledged to name a woman on the ticket. Some say he tied his own hands by making that pledge. At the time, he faced many calls to pick up a black woman as there was social unrest over certain police officers exercising brutality against African Americans (a key voting bloc of the Democratic Party). During the early primaries in 2020, Jim Clybourn, a black Democratic Congressman from South Carolina, helped Biden do well in that early state's Democratic primary. Some say President Biden owed Mr. Clybourn a favor, and when you factor in the ridiculousness of the Electoral College, Kamala Harris was picked.
Peter: Biden could be more exciting and passionate. He's the opposite of Trump. What many Americans like about Trump is that he's unpredictable, antagonistic, fiery, and supposedly out fot the little guy. Many Trump backers are low-information voters, but I digress. I want my President to sometimes have fire in his belly, someone who genuinely wants to address many of our issues. What about you?
Kevin: One controversial issue is inflation. I've read from some left-leaning folks stating that
inflation is not Biden's fault. I get why someone would say that. Let me provide further context. Biden has said in several interviews that his policies are not to blame. He pointed to global conditions so the US is not alone in higher oil prices, disruptive supply chains during the pandemic, and Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
Even though there were geopolitical events outside of Biden's control, to be fully transparent, Biden's Coronavirus relief plan (The American Rescue Plant) was passed early in 2021, which some economists felt drove inflation higher in the US than in other countries. Too much money chasing around a limited amount of goods and services. Some analysts state that he learned a lesson during the Obama-Biden administration years earlier. A stimulus was passed to
address the Great Recession but didn't seem to significantly "jump-start" the economy. As several years passed, Biden publically said that if a stimulus were ever needed moving forward, he'd ensure it was large enough to significantly make a difference. I understand the impetus for doing such a thing, but I wonder if he over-compensated the lesson he learned years earlier.
To be fair, inflation in the United States (over the last few years) is related to Biden's relief plan, and part relates to the geopolitical issues mentioned above.
Can I say that sometimes Scranton Joe is tone-deaf, especially concerning his son, Hunter? At this time, Hunter is charged with twice failing to pay over $100,000 in income tax in 2017-18. Hunter is also charged with a felony as he possessed a revolver for 11 days several years ago while being addicted and unlawful use of a controlled substance. Joe Biden indeed loves his son and is very supportive of him, but Mr. President, please read the room. When Hunter is photographed on Air Force One traveling with the President on foreign visits, it's just a bad look. When this occurs, Fox News and many Republicans are fed delicious red meat. You can be loving and supportive of your son and, at the same time, make him individually responsible for handling his own charges and ensure Hunter stays out of the media as much as possible.
Why is there still so much love for Trump? And DeSantis and Haley?
Peter: Many people feel facts get in the way of an exciting story. Trump taps into voter's fears about the state of the nation. He claims he can make America great again by eliminating immigration and crime and by ensuring those who helped steal the election (categorically untrue) get punished. He has no platform for 2024 and beyond except for exacting revenge on those he doesn't like or feels they've wronged him. What should an informed voter do if he has so much support after botching COVID-19 and refusing to concede the 2020 election?
Trump is facing 91 criminal charges, and the more he's charged, the more it rallies the MAGA base. It's tough to see why this occurs. I have very little respect for DeSantis and Haley too. Haley will target market a crowd and determine precisely what they want to hear. She's willing to shift positions frequently, hoping it will help her campaign catch fire. She was mediocre as the governor of South Carolina and promised to complete her second turn until Trump tapped her on the shoulder for the UN Ambassador gig. Some say she's a chameleon and changes her stance when it suits her. DeSantis has fought with Disney and wants to run the State of Florida like a dictator. What does it say about DeSantis and Haley when they'll support Trump if he's the Republican nominee? What about "Stop the Steal" on January 6th? What about all the pending charges against him? Are they not all bothered by his rhetoric, especially against some law enforcement officials who may prosecute him?
What do Florida voters think of him today?
Kevin: I don't want to insult all citizens of the State of Florida, but there are many right-wing and conservative voters in that state. There's a higher percentage of retirees there and many just focus on the conservative candidate, regardless of who's running. They often focus on the 'R' behind a person's name. I spent months in Florida over the past several years, and there is a lot of uninformed or misinformed electorate in the Sunshine State. Did they need to pay more attention in their high school civics class? For many, jet skiing, driving around in their pickup truck, or boating takes precedence over becoming an informed voter. It's pure speculation, but I wonder if the nice weather enables them to avoid serious reflection on the State of the Union.
Peter: I hate to say it, but many people I encounter don't deal with facts. Instead, they would be taken in by a convincing lie or half-truth rather than see the evidence right in front of their face. President Biden and his team have done an excellent job putting the nation on solid footing. But, too many are blissfully uninformed and will vote for Trump because he is the kind of guy ordained by God.
Kevin: I said this before, and I will say again that the Biden administration should hire a PR firm to sell their accomplishments. The Democratic Party needs to be better with messaging. I suggest a PowerPoint slide of five or six accomplishments made by the Biden administration. Keep the bullet points short and easy to remember. Please don't get into some big policy argument; keep it short and memorable. Slide two should be designed similarly, but with those things, they tried but were unsuccessful due to court rulings or an intransigent Congress.
Peter: I wonder if undocumented immigration is an issue that will doom President Biden next year. VP Harris was in charge of border security for the first two years of his Presidency, but I need to find out where that stands today. I read conflicting reports about the status of the border, but I need clarification. Is that the media's fault? Is there an objective platform to get the exact facts of border security during the Biden administration? I don't know.
Kevin: This comes back to messaging. Some Republicans claim the border is wide open; I wonder what their news source is. If it were wide open, we'd have 20 - 30 million undocumented immigrants in our country since 2021. Even though Trump promised to build a wall separating Mexico from the US, he was unsuccessful. However, he still tried to reduce and eliminate the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the US. However, the Biden administration has tried to create a more humane policy at the border. Said differently, more people have crossed into the US illegally during his administration, and some claim to be refugees, but "open borders?" That's inaccurate rhetoric coming from Fox News and many Republicans, but if you state an untruth enough times, it may resonate with some people. According to The Nation, "If you count all the contracts for private industry from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since Joe Biden took office—for that is, 2021, 2022, and 2023—the number comes to $ 23.5 billion. And though you'd never guess it, given what we usually hear, that already beats Donald Trump's total for his four years in office, $20.9 billion.
Why doesn't the Biden administration publically say that the US Chamber of Commerce will never get involved in this issue? Cheap labor isn't something they'll complain about. In addition, if we want to reduce undocumented immigration, why doesn't Congress punish those employers who hire these undocumented workers? Has either party proposed genuine bills to address the issue? Biden needs to get ahead of this issue. Otherwise, more of the electorate may swing to what they hear through the news without parsing through the rhetoric.
Again I ask, what do we do about Biden in 2024?
Peter: Are you afraid of Trump being elected in '24? If he runs and is defeated, will he reach out to social media and declare a "coup" against the Democratic Party?
Kevin: There is a good chance that Trump will be "elected" President next November due to the Electoral College, even though he may receive five million fewer votes. I will not digress here and discuss my issues with the Electoral College. Then what happens in early '25? He promised his reign of terror, so what will that look like? Will he first target those individuals on his "enemies list?" That may include judges, special prosecutors, and prosecutors who have been involved in trying to prosecute him in '24. Don't forget liberal journalists and high-level.
Democrats. Will he then use "our military" to target folks who are not white, Christian, or straight?
If this is the case, will over half of all Americans be frightened to speak out and be careful about what they say in public? People will be forced to determine whom they can trust and whom they must be careful around. If an opponent speaks out, could a knock on the door be forthcoming? It sounds dystopian, but if someone is capable of completely tearing our country apart, it's Donald Trump. A more appropriate name for his candidacy should be "The Revenge Tour."