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Opinion | A new way to decipher the 2024 race

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So what does this all mean for 2024? Neither likely candidate is a conventionally attractive candidate, but both are live players. At 80, President Joe Biden, the oldest presidential candidate in history, has figured out how to sidestep concerns about his age, at least within his own party. Biden has the support of the DNC without major challengers from the ranks of the party, his main opponent is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. He won the Democratic nomination in 2020 against a crowded field, even after losing the first three crucial primaries and a period of uncertainty beforehand. on whether to even run. But Biden always knew that the continuity with the pre-Trump era he offered would ultimately win out on the national stage. This was the right move for live players in an environment where candidates increasingly felt they had to break with previous conventions or be bigots. It wasn’t votes for universal basic income or the abolition of ICE that ultimately won the presidency, but Biden’s normalcy. His team has also been nimble on social media, effectively using political memes cooked up by online internet subcultures, such as with the unconventional and menacing aesthetic of “dark brandon.”

Trump, meanwhile, is once again giving headaches to his own party’s establishment, intending to run and win despite losing an election as the incumbent and facing multiple criminal charges. Should he succeed, he would be the first non-consecutive president since Grover Cleveland in the 19th century. Anyone else would be discouraged from running again, perhaps opting to retire to focus on presidential libraries and charity work. Instead, Trump has responded by further ignoring the rules of decorum and even common sense. He is running while insisting that the entire electoral system is illegitimate, an escalation even compared to his 2016 campaign, when he only said politicians were illegitimate. If Trump had retired, it’s unlikely that any Republican leader would have made that argument to run again on his behalf. Another gamble was accepting an interview from former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson on X, the site formerly known as Twitter, at the same time as the first Republican presidential debate. This was both an attempt to stage the debate and a test of whether social media might have eclipsed network television in political relevance. All this makes him, still, a living player.

Establishment Republicans should be ready to get upset again. Whether one looks at Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, or others, one can see the outlines of generally the same script, where a successful politician from a large or at least mid-sized state is supposed to have a song history what makes them eligible for the next national electoral stage. This reasonable-sounding model in fact makes deep assumptions about the transfer of regional popularity or governing skill to the national level. So variations in tone, messaging, or policy are more like that (variations) than pronounced differences. This script exists because it has worked in the past. But is it a script that will work in the future?

Perhaps hoping it won’t, it seems more and more outlandish politicians are opting to join the presidential race. Vivek Ramaswamy first made a splash on Twitter and then effectively drew attacks from opponents during the first Republican debate, ensuring he would be recognizable to a Republican base that until the debate didn’t know him. Ramaswamy is now the third most popular Republican candidate after Trump and DeSantis. A businessman and author of books criticizing “woke” politics, he implicitly bets that fatigue with progressive social policy runs much deeper than he assumes. But while DeSantis takes the same gamble by fighting the culture war harder, and thus perhaps undermining himself, Ramaswamy tries to present a new version of the meritocratic “American national identity,” with himself as the man poster as the successful son of immigrants. . On the Democratic side, Marianne Williamson is making a similar bet, but from a very different angle. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. bet that the population of people still deeply disturbed by the events of the Covid-19 pandemic is large enough to form a new political constituency. Perhaps surprisingly, polls around 12 percent in Democratic primary polls.

These candidates appear to be live players, but many failed candidates have also been live players. Just because a live player can write a new script doesn’t mean that new script is necessarily better than the old ones. Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who has also announced that he will perform again in 2024, has been a case study in how being a live player doesn’t necessarily mean you know what you’re doing.


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