Off to the races – the 2024 primaries begin to take shape

It seems like it is way too early for this, but like it or not, the 2024 presidential primaries have begun and they will last forever – or at least it will appear that way.

Both the Democrats and the Republican/Trump parties have contestants lining up.  No one knows how busy the primaries will be but when a politician with a dollar and a dream envisions him or herself as president, the starting gate awaits. On one side things might get crowded.

Many folks in the Democratic Party would have preferred that President Joe Biden defer to a younger generation of candidates.  But…  He saved the country from four more years of Donald Trump.  He has accomplished more legislatively than any of the past several presidents.  He’s brought back respect for America from around the world.  He’s running for re-election.

There are two other candidates who say they will run in the Democratic primaries, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson.  The Kennedy family has a long and distinguished career in public service.  They have paid a severe price for that service.  Robert Kennedy Jr. will disgrace his family.  His obsession with opposition to vaccinations is bizarre.  His association with Steve Bannon says all that needs to be said about his intelligence or potential value as a public servant.

Williamson undoubtedly enjoyed her 2020 15 minutes of fame so much that she wants another 15.  That attention might give her a chance to write another self-help book or to pick up some paid speaking engagements.

So that takes care of the Democrats for the moment.  How goes the Republican/Trump Party?

Trump himself has been a candidate since last November.  He has solidified his base as his legal problems deepen but that base is probably no more than 30 percent of the electorate.  Some thought that we might see a new, moderate version of candidate Trump as 2023 began.  His appearance on CNN’s “Town Hall,” however, demonstrated that his 2024 campaign will simply be a re-run of the grievances and lies that he has been telling for years.  His greatest hits include:

  • Trump claimed for the thousandth time that the 2020 election was rigged, (unlike in 2016, when the Russians helped elect him).  His rants will continue as various criminal matters on the subject swirl about.
  • Concerning the completion of the wall on the Mexican border:  “I did finish the wall. I built a wall, I built hundreds of miles of wall.”  According to a report by US Customs and Border Protection just 52 miles of new wall were constructed during Trump’s term in office in locations where no barriers previously existed.
  • Trump said that January 6 was a peaceful assembly attended by tens of thousands, the biggest crowd he ever spoke to.  He said that just “a couple” people got out of control.  The fact is the January 6 insurrection by Trump-supporters has resulted in the largest law enforcement response in modern history, with several of the criminals already convicted of sedition.
  • A day after a Manhattan federal jury found that Trump had sexually abused and defamed the writer E. Jean Carroll, Trump claimed that the jury in the civil trial found he did not rape her and said he “didn’t do anything else either.”  The Republican-packed CNN audience thought it was funny.
  • Trump claimed that the United States has provided $171 billion in aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia.  Actually since the beginning of the war in February 2022 the USA has provided approximately $75 billion in military, humanitarian, and financial assistance.  He said he could end the Russia-Ukraine war in 24 hours – to the benefit, no doubt, of his friend Vladimir Putin.
  • Trump is having trouble defining his position on abortion.
  • Trump suggested that he gave Americans the biggest tax cuts in history in 2017.  The tax cuts mostly benefited the super-rich.  The Treasury Department has found that since 1968, three other tax cut bills have been bigger, including Reagan’s 1981 package and two bills passed by former President Barack Obama to extend earlier tax cuts signed by former President George W. Bush.

National polling currently shows Florida Governor Ron DeSantis running a distant second to Trump among Republicans.  He is positioning his campaign to be “Trump without the baggage.”  His campaign will be heavy on wokeness and on “Making America Florida.”  The Florida Legislature has deferred to DeSantis on all issues.  How those matters translate nationally is questionable.  Here are some of DeSantis’ Florida highlights:

  • Permitting the open carrying of guns without a permit or training, ignoring the mass killings that have occurred in his state and elsewhere.  That law can work in tandem with Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which basically allows anyone with a gun to shoot someone who the gun owner perceives as a threat.  The laws have played out tragically, including once instance where a college student from Western New York was shot and killed.
  • Wokeness on the right has been demonstrated in many pieces of legislation:
    • Freedom as promoted by DeSantis does not include academic freedom.  The state is telling universities how they must operate and what they can teach.
    • The state Department of Education system dictates what textbooks can be used in elementary and high schools, overruling locally elected school boards.
    • Local control of libraries is superseded by state decisions on what books can be made available for readers.  The state is telling parents what books their children will be allowed to read.
  • Abortion legislation and LGBTQ policies of the state contradict a political stance that promotes freedom.
  • And not to be forgotten, there’s DeSantis’ war on Disney.  There are reports, however, that Goofy has defected and joined the DeSantis team.

After Trump and DeSantis there come several candidates who will likely end their campaigns over the next several months.  A couple of them might still be running in February is DeSantis continues to falter.  The list includes:

  • North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum
  • Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • Larry Elder
  • Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
  • Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison
  • Perry Johnson
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence
  • Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Senator Tim Scott
  • Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin

The road to November 2024 will be long and occasionally interesting.  Stay tuned.

Twitter @kenkruly