If one resounding message could be taken from the 2024 presidential campaigns of each contender, it is that fear is on the ballot. For the current president, it is the fear that “democracy” cannot survive his predecessor’s return. From Nikki Haley, it is a message that chaos will come swirling back to the White House. And from Donald Trump is an insistence that four more years of Joe Biden might just be the final nail in the coffin of America.
This is an election on the fringes of what is normal. Common ground is found only on the outskirts of Main Street, and any who dare walk a middle path are relegated to near irrelevance by the deafening roar of blustery rhetoric.
Both Biden and Haley appear to agree that the worst possible election result would be a Trump victory. And while that may be the worst personal outcome for them as individuals, the joint pitch they appear to be making to the voting public is that a Trump resurgence could be a devastating consequence for the world at large.
Biden’s Take on Trump
As Liberty Nation’s Editor-in-Chief Leesa K. Donner recently noted, “On Sunday (Feb. 4), while speaking at a campaign event in Nevada, Biden tried the age-old fear tactic, stating that Americans would be ‘living a nightmare’ should Trump win re-election … Then he went on to posit, ‘We have to keep the White House. We must keep the Senate,’ adding that then ‘we can say we saved American democracy.’” Clearly, the president has a mission to convince voters they could be the saviors of the nation if they cast their ballots in his favor. But this was not the only hyperbole he spread.
During a campaign visit to South Carolina in late January, Biden made a unique claim regarding his presumptive opponent and the lack of confidence other world leaders have in him:
“I know every one of those heads of state, and I’ve known them for a while. And every meeting I go to internationally, as they’re walking out, this is the God’s truth […] virtually every one of them pull me aside and says, ‘You’ve got to win. We can’t let that happen again. You can’t let that happen again. You can’t let that happen again.’”
For a moment let’s put aside the obvious embellishments that are par for the course with Biden. He claims that world leaders are expressing angst over a possible Trump return. Naturally, he does not name names, but let’s consider what the world stage was like during the Trump presidency: no new major conflicts; Russia, North Korea, and Iran all safely at bay, trying their best not to annoy the bad orange man with the “big red button”; economic prosperity (until the COVID pandemic); and NATO nations pressured to pay their dues. In fact, the Trump presidency marked a period of global peace rarely seen before and has certainly not been seen since. It raises a concerning question: What is so objectionable to these world leaders?
The answer may be found in what those who are buddy-buddy with Biden consider successful leadership. Clearly global stability is not on that list, nor a resilient economy of high wages and low inflation. But championing progressive policies certainly seems to be the pinnacle of good governance. And that is something that not even the most ardent Trump supporters would ascribe to their choice of candidate.
Haley From a Different Angle
Nikki Haley’s position appears to be that Trump is part of the establishment and he would derail what she apparently sees as a stable country. “Trump has become an insider,” she boldly stated on Meet the Press. She continued, “He’s more interested in satisfying the elected class than he is in satisfying the people.” She also took the opportunity to go scorched-earth on those who surround her competitor. In fact, it seems one of her issues is that donors are flocking to Trump and not her.
The former UN ambassador and South Carolina governor has been quite the desired guest on the news networks. From CNBC to NBC and Saturday Night Live, and everywhere in between, a welcoming couch and softball questions await her. But why are the anti-Trump media so keen to host? Perhaps it is more to do with the unique content Haley has to offer than a quest for balanced coverage.
As the South Carolina primary approaches, Haley is on a mission to turn people off Trump before she receives the anticipated crushing defeat in her own backyard. According to the RealClearPolitics average, she is 27 points behind and showing no signs of narrowing that gap. What else to do but go on a rampage against your opponent?
In recent days she has questioned Trump’s mental agility, his fitness for office, his America First bona fides, and just about every other pitch her interviewers have thrown. This seems less like a primary race between colleagues of the same party and more like a full-frontal assault on an enemy. The reality is that if she does succeed in sinking Trump’s campaign – a long shot at best – she will have no party left to lead in the November election. For her, any short-term victory would be Pyrrhic at best.
Extremism on the Ballot?
Trump, America’s most determined extremist (should you believe the headlines), is no shrinking violet in the war of political words. He has verbally abused his primary opponents and then courted them once they have bent the proverbial knee. He has spent hundreds of hours belittling Biden and his presidency, second-guessing every White House decision.
In 2020, Biden spent his campaign broadcasting from his Delaware basement as Trump went from pillar to post trying to manage the nation amid a once-in-a-generation pandemic. He is still crisscrossing the country, but this time mixing his valuable hours between rallies and court appearances. Perhaps the most effective weapon in his current arsenal is not to play the foil for a Biden-Haley double team but to heed the words of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who warned:
“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”
The political high road is a rarely traveled path. And yet with accusations of extremism at every turn and warnings of destruction around every corner, it may well be that the candidate who rejects such tactics will reap the rewards.