The Times We Are In


This morning (May 14, 2024) there were several articles about the 2024 presidential election, which to a bleeding heart Democrat like me are unsettling. The latest New York Times, Siena College and the Philadelphia Inquirer poll shows Trump leading in five of the six key battleground states—Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Biden is ahead only in Wisconsin where he leads by a mere two percent. There was another article in the Times about Robert F Kennedy Jr. who is polling at nine percent with his popularity rising. The gist of that article was that while Kennedy is pulling voters from both Biden and Trump, his candidacy is hurting Biden the most and could well be the spoiler that hands the presidency to Trump. And when these polls were taken, the New York trial of Trump in the Stormy Daniels coverup was well underway, and the tawdry actions of the former president were common knowledge. There was also another interesting article about how inflation was hurting lower income households far more than higher income households because a much higher percentage have credit card and student loan debt, which translates to having to pay more for interest and being priced out of the home buying market. Many–including Black and Hispanic voters–are blaming Biden and turning to Trump, cutting into the traditional Democratic base. If all this is not enough to cause discomfort to a Democrat, a third poll this week showed that while a majority of voters were dissatisfied with both candidates, the electorate clearly wants a change from the status quo. A majority also answers the polling question about the economy that Trump did a better job during his term than Biden is doing now.

What? Are we Americans nuts? Unemployment remains close to historic lows, for the first time in decades wages are rising faster than inflation, and massive infrastructure projects are underway in every state. Furthermore, a majority of respondents to recent polls about the economy say that while they believe the country is worse off economically under Biden, their own financial situation is the same or better than it was several years ago. Go figure.

And these troubling findings are on the domestic front. It may turn out that the international front may be even more unsettling due mainly to the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza. Biden initially supported Netanyahu’s retribution actions in Gaza, which have left over 35,000 Gazans dead, mostly women and children, and over 1.9 million homeless—over 85 percent of the population. The U.S. has spent billions of dollars in aiding Israel and supplying weapons, some of which presumably have been used in destroying thousands in of homes in Gaza and killing innocent civilians. We see on the evening news every night the inconceivable destruction that has happened, the weeping mothers and dying children. It is heartbreaking.  Now our policies seem to be changing, but the “Final Battle” in Rafah is just beginning. Will Biden’s actions be a case of too little too late?

Biden finds himself in a no win situation.  By limiting support for Israel, Biden will likely lose votes from those who support Israel, but by supporting Israel he will lose votes from the Progressives, who may choose to stay home on election day. And what about all the protests on college campuses? These remind me of the 1968 demonstrations when Embry and I were living in New York’s Upper West Side across from the Columbia campus, except they are more violent and involve students fighting students and more aggressive police interventions. It is likely that Trump will use these demonstrations to make the case that America needs a strongman like him, not a wimp like Biden, to quash the disturbances and bring “law and order” back to the country. If Progressives disrupt the Democratic convention as they say they are going to do, it would add more fuel to the fire for the Republicans. That was tried in 1968 and resulted in a victory for Nixon. Been there, done that. Not a happy outcome.

And the trial of New York versus Donald J Trump continues, with three other trials waiting in the wings but not likely to happen before the election. If convicted, would it make a difference? The polls tell us that for between 70 and 80 percent of Republicans the answer is no. (According to a 2023 CNN poll this is the same percentage that believe the 2020 election was stolen.) It appears that there is nothing that Trump could do to earn their disfavor. Some continue to believe that he represents the Second Coming of Jesus. But that leaves a healthy number of moderates, who might change their minds. However, most pundits think that the Stormy Daniels case is the least serious of the charges and if Trump is convicted, it won’t matter that much.

Has there ever been a time post Civil War when the country was more divided, the stakes higher, or the outcome more uncertain? And there are still almost six months left to go. Lots of water left to flow under the bridge. What more surprises are out there that could change the trajectory one way or another? Fasten your seatbelts. These are the times we are in.



2 thoughts on “The Times We Are In

  1. If anybody thinks that Trump would be better than Biden on Israel, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you…

    Trump and Netanyahu are buddies who are cut from the same cloth… One hard-line strongman just like another. Trump and Bibi cozy up together on the same page. No pushback or sympathies for Gaza there.

    Trump and his MAGA cult would never force Israel to accept a ceasefire — or a Palestinian state.

    So if someone sits home or votes other than Biden in November – or tries to disrupt the process – then that person is ultimately choosing to make things worse. Proceed carefully, think twice.

    1. Hear! Hear! I can understand some of the alienation in our country due to the vast differences in income and power and lingering racism, but for the life of me I don’t understand why those who believe they have gotten a bad hand, have chosen Trump as their horse to ride. But the trend toward authoritarianism is happening in many places–Hungary, Poland, Egypt, Russia, China, and India–and right wing currents are strengthening in Europe.

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