Certainties and Uncertainties in Predicting the 2024 Presidential Election

[This piece appeared as a newspaper op/ed in late June, 2024.]


Previously, I made a prediction about the upcoming election. I’ve become less confident about what I foresaw.

Some things I still know with certainty. But a swarm of uncertainties have shaken my confidence.

My most important certainty concerns what the Republican Party has become.

(And that judgment is of a kind in which — after studying such forces for sixty years, with the last twenty focused on the particulars of what’s been happening in Conservative America — I consider myself an expert. As a doctor might feel evaluating a patient’s malady.)

I have no doubt this Republican Party

• deals consistently in falsehoods,
• advances the very opposite of values conservatives have traditionally held sacred,
• is assaulting the American constitutional order,
• is the most fascistic major party in our nation’s history.

My earlier prediction — that Trump would lose — was based on a belief that the great majority of Americans — if they understood well the nature of their upcoming choice — would reject Trump (and the Trump Party).

I still believe that. But that “if” is a big one.

Even if it’s true that no more than one-third of Americans want the fascistic future toward which Trump and the Trump Party are driving us, it’s also true that roughly half of Americans are telling pollsters they’re inclined to vote for Trump.

Together, those would mean that roughly one-sixth of the electorate does not understand what’s at stake in the Trump/Biden choice.

And if they don’t understand that by now, why would they by Election Day?

Maybe because — as some studies show — a great many Americans know almost nothing about public affairs until shortly before the election, and that — when they finally do pay attention — they come to understand a lot more and vote accordingly.

I’m uncertain how much one can bank on that.

Some surprising developments have also cast a shadow on my prediction: I never imagined that a Supreme Court could be so corruptly partisan that it would help a criminal escape the Rule of Law> And that’s what it has done by indefensibly helping Trump delay the trial for his most serious crimes for so long that the American people will be deprived of the picture a trial would have shown of Trump’s attempt to overthrow the constitution.

(Admittedly, it’s uncertain how many voters would have been moved by that grotesque picture of Trump’s lawlessness. But now, with corrupt judges delaying serious trials for no good reason, the only trial that will display Trump’s criminality to the American electorate will be the one in Manhattan where Trump was convicted for illegally cheating to win the Presidency in 2016.)

Trials aside, when it comes to helping the American electorate see the essential truth about this election, there’s the question of how powerful will be the messaging from those – Democrats and Republicans — who champion the survival of American democracy.

• It remains to be seen how well the Democrats – with whom messaging has been a weakness for decades – will rise to this occasion.
• Another concern involves how disappointingly rare have been Republicans with the integrity to put the nation ahead of their self-interest. I’d not imagined that that so many Republican leaders — whose past statements show they understand how unfit Donald Trump is to be President (e. g. Mitch McConnell, William Barr, and most recently Nikki Haley — would betray the nation by announcing support for Trump rather than warning Republican voters against him.

Uncertain whether Republican voices will be loud enough to get the message across to those Republican voters who revere our constitutional order to reject the dangerous candidate who threatens to destroy it. (Adam Kinzinger’s recent video — announcing his intention, as a stalwart conservative, to vote for Joe Biden — is the kind of thing the nation needs much more of.)

I’m uncertain, too, about how many Americans appreciate all the blessings that generations of Americans have enjoyed we owe to that order — to things like the Rule of Law –that today’s Republican Party is assaulting.

Though the soul and destiny of the nation are at stake, a great many Americans apparently can’t see beyond the more superficial level. – like their feelings about President Biden.

It seems that people more readily grasp the human level rather than perceiving the larger level – Democracy vs. Fascism — at which a destructive force has been seeping into the American power system.

But here’s the important thing to know: everything about Biden is irrelevant except that the preservation of our heritage as Americans depends on Biden – not Trump! – winning the election.

Whatever one’s opinions of Biden’s performance, because of the profound threat that the only alternative presidential victory represents, all anyone needs to know about Biden is that he’s the champion of the system our Founders gave us.

That may be the biggest truth, but it’s unclear how well that essential understanding can be transmitted to the American electorate.

Given the choice, even Biden’s age – a genuine concern – cannot decide: concern, but no alternative.

But even that issue of age and fitness might play out to weigh in Biden’s favor.

I bet that if Biden and Trump both went to some prestigious medical facility (Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins) — with the agreement that both would undergo a complete physical and mental exam with all the results automatically made public — Biden would be judged in better shape to serve as President for the next four years.

And lately, there’s increasing talk – some from neurologists – about non-trivial signs of dementia that Trump is displaying.

A predictor will wonder how good of a picture voters will get of the true “fitness” of these two old men?

I know what choice our Founders would cry out for us to make. But with so many uncertainties, I hesitate to predict what Americans will choose.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *