So Donald Trump is running for President again. Where’s the long vaudeville stage hook when you need one?
A week after a disappointing midterm election for Republicans, Trump announced on Tuesday that he would run for president for the fourth time in 2024. He still doesn’t accept that he lost last time.
Meanwhile, President Biden has for some time stated his “intent” to seek re-election; no doubt encouraged by a supposed red wave that turned into a red trickle. It would also be his fourth campaign for the presidency.
Trump is the most polarizing presidential candidate since George Wallace. His continued denial that he lost the election two years ago, even after his own attorney general said there was no evidence of his alleged widespread voter fraud, has caused many to lose faith in American democracy, and that is a farce.
What is also a farce is what he is doing to the Republican Party. In that past election, he endorsed or handpicked far-right candidates who also refused to accept the results of the 2020 election. Many won their party’s nomination only to be defeated in the general election — even in states that normally vote Republican.
To survive, the Republican Party must rally behind another candidate — a candidate who did not promote the January 6 takeover of the Capitol and who does not feed on the prejudice and hatred of the people.
Closer to home, if Republicans want New Mexico to return to some semblance of a two-party state, they must sever ties with Trump and make that disconnect crystal clear with younger voters.
Biden, long known for public gaffes, shows an increasing frequency of misstatements and confusing rhetoric.
Neither Trump, 76, nor Biden, 79, offer anything new. And they hardly reflect the growing bloc of younger voters. Biden is already the oldest president in office. And Trump, if elected, would begin this term as the second-oldest president.
Millennials have overtaken the baby boomers as America’s largest generation and are changing our choices. Exit polls found that 1 in 8 midterm voters was under 30. Millennials, who are 26-41 years old, and Generation Z, who are 10-25 years old, are poised to become the largest voting bloc in the electorate, but you wouldn’t know that from recent leadership in the Democratic and Republican parties .
It needs fresh leadership.
Perhaps 2024 should be the time to pass the torch on to a new generation of Americans, as John F. Kennedy described in his 1961 inaugural address.
And that could help quell the local infighting we’ve seen in both parties lately. Witness the Bernallillo County Commission’s ugly battle to replace retired Democratic Senator Jacob Candelaria. And the Republicans are once again in a hotly contested battle for the state presidency. If the last one is any clue, get ready for some nasty name calls.
While several factors have contributed to the deterioration of civil discourse between and within parties, our essentially closed primary system in New Mexico is partly to blame. The system disenfranchises more than 300,000 voters in New Mexico and favors marginalized groups in both parties. Allowing independents to vote in primary elections could produce more moderate nominees who would more closely represent all voters.
According to the latest voter registration data, 22.6% of New Mexico’s 1.3 million registered voters were independents who declined to declare party affiliation. That’s more than 307,000 registered voters who will be disenfranchised in the primaries.
Legislation passed in 2020 allows independent voters and voters registered with certain minor political parties to change their registration to one of the major parties during early voting or on election day to vote in either the Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian primary Select.
The result was a joke. Only 2,111 of the state’s then 304,000 independents chose to affiliate with a major party in this year’s primary.
Independents, who tend to be younger and/or black, accounted for only 8% of the state’s registered voters in 1990. Now they are approaching a quarter of the electorate. You deserve to be heard in the crucial primaries.
But it all starts at the top where we face a possible rematch between Biden and Trump. This is a show New Mexicans shouldn’t want to see again.
We can only hope that over the next two years, stronger candidates will emerge who can unite the populace with proposals to bring about a prosperous and inclusive future for all Americans. It is time for new standard-bearers to lead the parties and the nation.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is not signed as it represents the opinion of the newspaper and not that of the authors.