Girding our loins for the 2024 Presidential election

Peace Advocate November 2023

Photo: Ben Alexander, via Wikimedia Commons

by Kathie Malley-Morrison

With the 2024 reelections looming, there is a huge consensus, across party lines, on one major viewpoint: American democracy has failed, as illustrated dramatically by the January 6, 2020, attack on the United States Capitol after the last presidential election. There are dramatic political party differences in causes identified and solutions promoted by the mourners, but beliefs in the death – the murder – of democracy are espoused on all sides. This consensus is unnerving as the nation gears up for an election at a time when existential threats may have reached their highest point in the history of humankind.

Because of the urgency of the times and of the election, The Peace Advocate (the Massachusetts Peace Action newsletter) has begun releasing a series of articles, written by various individual members, on selected election issues as well as on selected candidates. The current article in this series focuses on concerns about threats to the integrity and safety of the 2024 election as well as the associated threats to democracy as a viable political and social system. More specifically, it addresses the resurgence of fascism in this country and encourages readers to refrain from voting for its leading advocate – Donald Trump – and the MAGA Republicans who support him.

Mary Trump, the ex-president’s niece, presents the case succinctly, describing her uncle as: “an incompetent fascist who’s itching to become an autocrat with the power to wreak vengeance upon his enemies, and destroy the Western alliance along with the tenets of liberal democracy”. Mary has also warned Democrats, “We have fourteen months to make sure that we snatch democracy from the jaws of fascism; fourteen months to drive the fascists back under the rock from which the modern Republican Party rescued them.”

Mary Trump’s personal perspective, however biased it might be, echoes a wide range of voices warning of a fascist takeover if Trump wins the 2024 election. Thom Hartman, in a January 2022 article in Common Dreams, argues that “The biggest battle for the survival of American democracy is before us now.” He then asks the question “Will America become more free and democratic [following the 2024 election], or will we devolve into a 21st century form of Trumpy fascism?

“Morning Joe” (Scarborough) of MSNBC has commented that Trump’s threats of violence against his enemies – for example, his threat to execute a chairman of the Joint Chiefs – and his insistence that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” are clearly fascistic rhetoric. Bill Blum, on Alternet, comments that Trump’s “endorsement of political violence and the promotion of alternative realities” are “hallmarks of classic and, now Trumpian, fascism.” Eric Altieri, president of a progressive advocacy group based in Washington, DC, notes that, “With his recent call to ban ALL Muslims from entering the United States (including any Muslim Americans who are currently overseas) Donald Trump has completed the transition from simple racism and bigotry to outright nationalistic fascism.” Brian Murphy, acting Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis for more than two years during the Trump presidency, said a second term with Trump as president would be an “existential threat to democracy”.

There is also a great deal of consensus that it is not just Donald Trump but also the growing troops of MAGA and other right-wing Republicans who are a dire threat to democracy. Miles Taylor, in an August 2023 article in the LA Times, argued that the real threat to democracy is not Donald Trump or even the “next Trump” but the MAGA base, with its increasingly reactionary views. Mission Democracy, a new bipartisan action group, argues that, “The actions of the MAGA movement, including book banning, attempts to overturn elections, erasing parts of history, and criminalizing women’s healthcare”, are fascist. Daryl M. West, of the Brookings Institute, argues that investigations into the January 6, 2021 Capitol Hill insurrection demonstrated how close the country came to an overturning of its democratic system; however, he adds, copycat candidates for office, legal coups, misinformation, and increasing disrespect for majority views are threats that may last far beyond the upcoming election.

So what are we to do, as the 2024 election approaches, if we want to shore up and strengthen our democratic system? One possibility is involving yourself in your political party’s preparations to select their candidates for the 2024 Presidential and Congressional elections and resisting fascistic candidates. The Massachusetts Republican and Democratic primaries will both be held on March 4, 2024, (“Super Tuesday”)—just four months away. Given the threat to democracy posed by Trump and other MAGA candidates, there will be strong pressures for Democrats to support nominating Joe Biden for another term, despite widespread concerns about his age, his enormous financial investments in the Ukraine and Gaza wars, and disappointment in his failure to address the twin existential threats of nuclear war and climate destruction more steadfastly; however, there are other candidates to consider.

Use the time in the next few months to learn more about the presidential candidates you want to promote, and join efforts to educate the public against fascism and any proponents of fascism who may be seeking to be delegates to either the Republican or Democratic national convention. Also take some time to educate yourself about candidates from other political parties who may be running for political office in 2024 and to decide whether you want to support a third party candidate at any point in the next few months.

The pros and cons of promoting and voting for candidates from other parties will be considered in an upcoming article.