Close your eyes and imagine two possible futures with me. It's October 2024, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott won a bruising campaign to emerge as the Republican nominee for President. He stands on the debate stage with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who jumped into the late-developing Democratic primary after President Joe Biden announced that he would not seek reelection.
Their responses to questions demonstrate the divergent plans each party has for the future of our nation. Scott emphasizes the need for fiscal restraint, while Buttigieg hypes all of the government programs that could be paid for with a tax increase on the rich. They vigorously debate the Equality Act, which Buttigieg sees as the key to protecting the gains made by the LGBT community, and Scott thinks will seriously impinge Americans' first amendment rights. Their discussion draws a contrast between the two on school choice, foreign policy, and a host of other subjects.
Or, we can picture another but similar future. California Governor Gavin Newsom triumphs over the hastily composed Democratic primary field to face Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who became the standard bearer for the Republicans. Each man touts his successes as Governor while poking at the weaknesses of the other candidate's state. The choice becomes crystal clear – do we want the rest of the nation to look more like Florida or California?
Compare either of these scenarios with our currently projected outcome – a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Do you think they will discuss tax policy, foreign policy, or education in those debates? Or, do you think they will argue over who won the 2020 election, relitigate January 6th, and compare Trump's alleged crimes to those of Hunter Biden? You know the answer.
I avoid "most important election of our lifetime" talk as much as I can, so I will state this without superlative language – the health of our republic would be strengthened by avoiding the rematch between the 45th and 46th Presidents. Biden will carry out another basement campaign. Trump's rallies will focus on his anger at his political enemies. The debates would most likely make us look on at the disastrous first 2020 debate as "the good ole' days."
The previous week demonstrated what a 2024 Trump/Biden contest would look like. After an indictment for mishandling classified documents and obstructing justice, President Trump has been on a media tour attacking the prosecutors. He keeps bringing up Joe Biden and Mike Pence's handling of classified material and can't resist talking about Hillary Clinton's 33,000 deleted emails. In addition, President Trump continues to boast that he won the 2020 election and takes shots, and every Republican he deems insufficiently loyal while praising dictators in India, Russia, China, North Korea, Turkey, Hungary, and Saudi Arabia.
President Biden's week has not been much better. He concluded a speech on gun violence by saying, "God save the Queen," which puzzled most of the country for several days. At an event to address the bridge collapse in Philadelphia, he appeared to need help knowing which way to walk off stage. His son Hunter accepted a plea deal for not paying federal income taxes for several years, which will likely provide endless fodder for President Trump.
Our nation faces a series of complex issues. Inflation continues to rise while wages lag. The bond between Russia and China grows stronger each day, challenging American priorities in Europe and the Pacific. Complications in the legal immigration system fuel immigration. The cost of higher education is skyrocketing, making a college education more difficult for middle-class families. Big business wields power that hasn't been seen since the Gilded Age, and Congress seems unwilling to do anything substantive about it.
The 2024 election needs to be about America's future, not a battle royal over its recent past. Unless American voters reject the status quo and choose new candidates, we'll be dealing with the latter and not the former. Christian voters need to spend serious time examining primary candidates outside the two that everyone knows. Find someone who reflects your values and choose accordingly. Then, hopefully, we will all be in a better place in 2028 than we find ourselves in 2023.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Douglas Rissing
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”