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None of the Above

I always hated this option on multiple choice exams. There was often a reason to suspect that one of the suggested answers could be correct, although I was usually pretty sure that wasn’t the case. But when it comes to the 2024 Presidential election, I suspect that most people would choose this option if the election were held today.

Don’t get me wrong. As a loyal, life-long Democrat, I support President Biden’s agenda and think he has done a good job, especially against stiff opposition from MAGA Republicans. He’s a seasoned player on the international stage and has surrounded himself with good people. But still, as a 78-year-old woman who occasionally has mobility issues and trouble retrieving nouns (they will float into my head at some point), do I think someone even older than I should be President? My answer would be “not really.”

But I have to consider the alternative – Trump. Not only does he share the age problem (at age 77, he meets my criteria for too old), but he is a twice impeached convicted rapist and business/tax cheat who is facing indictments for the January 6 insurrection, Georgia election interference, taking and hoarding classified documents, and the hush money case revolving around his affair with Stormy Daniels. Altogether, Trump is facing 91 felony charges. This is a first for a past-President, let alone someone who aspires to be reelected. Like Biden, he has also had mobility and word retrieval issues. Unlike Biden, he often speaks in word salads that make no sense and has a history of being bigoted, surrounding himself with bad people, and embracing white nationalists, Nazis, and Q-Anon followers as part of his MAGA coalition.

Clearly, I’m never voting for Trump. I would choose Biden, wishing there were someone else from a younger generation. In 2020, Biden was supposed to be the bridge to transition from one generation of leadership to another as well as the only Democrat who could defeat Trump. Four years later, the plan seems to have changed.

Adding to the mix of bad choices are third party candidates, specifically independents Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Cornell West, Jill Stein from the Green party, and whomever the “No Labels” party nominates (Joe Manchin?). Kennedy has become an anti-vax, conspiracy advocate, disavowed by his famous Democratic relatives. It’s hard to say yet if Biden or Trump will lose the most votes to his candidacy. Cornell West, liberal, progressive activist and member of the Green Party, will be running as an independent. Obviously, he will pull votes from Biden. So will Stein. We have already seen the damage Stein caused as she pulled votes from Hillary Clinton in 2016. The No Labels party has yet to choose its candidates, but it will be on the ballot in some states with some kind of unity ticket. Who knows how this will impact Biden’s or Trump’s candidacies.

Still, I worry these third-party candidates will hurt the Democrats more, much like Ralph Nader’s Green Party Presidential run in 2000 cost Gore the election. When I think of how much progress could have been made toward saving the environment had Gore beat Bush in the Electoral College (as he did in the popular vote) by winning Florida, I feel like crying.

As a much younger voter, I succumbed to the third-party candidacy of John Anderson in the 1980 Presidential election. I felt disillusioned with Carter, a good man but not an effective leader. Of course, Reagan won in a landslide, so the 6.6% of the vote Anderson earned, including mine, wasn’t a spoiler for Carter.

“Voters who dislike both major-party candidates — a group known to pollsters and political campaigns as “double haters” — have been instrumental in the outcomes of the last two presidential elections, and there are now more than twice as many of them as there were four years ago. Mr. Trump carried them when he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Mr. Biden won them when he ousted Mr. Trump four years later.”

The article goes on to say that 48% of Democrats in battle ground states would vote for a generic Democrat over 44% for Biden, and 52% of Republicans would vote for a generic Republican over 48% for Trump. I believe these statistics for now, but I also don’t trust polls. They have been wrong so many times in the past few cycles. So, here’s my dream scenario:

In March, 1968, Lyndon Johnson announced he wouldn’t seek another term. I remember being elated, as I hated his policy about the war in Vietnam. Less than two months later, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. I was crushed, but naively hoped Gene McCarty would win the nomination. Instead, LBJ’s VP and an establishment guy, Hubert Humphrey, was nominated. And Nixon won in a landslide.

Perhaps I should take a lesson from history. Before Trump, Nixon was the politician I hated most. Anyone who can keep Trump from returning to the presidency will earn my vote, regardless of their age. Don’t waste your vote on a protest candidate/third party that has no chance of being anything but a spoiler. Sadly, our choice in 2024 may be whatever it takes to prevent a disastrous second term for Trump.


by Laurie Levy
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