It is now more than a year before the Republican Party nominates its candidate for president. That date is July 18, 2024. It is even longer before the Democratic Party nominates its candidate, August 22, 2024. Despite that fact, we felt it important to take an early look at those who have stepped forward.
On the Democratic side, there are three candidates. On the Republican side there are 16, with maybe more to come. Cornel West is perched to run as an Independent. Others may join these lists and for sure, many will withdraw from the pool of candidates before the nominating conventions next summer.
Nevertheless, it is important to take a close look at the candidates at this early moment in the game in order to help shape what the final lists look like. If one thinks as a partisan strategist, this is an early opportunity to determine the weakest and least preferred candidates, so that they can be eliminated in the primaries with support from the opposing party. At the same time, one can begin focusing on the strongest and most preferred candidate in one’s own party. It is often too late to wait for the nominating conventions because by then voters may have only the option of voting for the least of two evils or the better of two non-preferred candidates.
Joe Biden is the best known of the Democratic candidates. He is currently serving as president, after having served eight years as vice president with Barack Obama. One can view the appointments that he has made and the legislation that he has supported and proposed. Because the media focuses so comprehensively on American presidents, one can realize the kind of personality he has, as well as his associates over the years. In short, it is easy to know who one gets with Biden.
Then there is Robert Kennedy who had a well-known and widely respected father and comes from a long-term prominent political family. Yet, many people would need to do research in order to find out the kind of things for which he has stood and in which he believes, as well as whether or not he would be the strongest Democratic nominee. Finally, there is Marianne Williamson who has previously run for president, though unsuccessfully. She has never held national public office but is an author and spiritual advisor. Most people would also need to study up to see where she stands on critical issues.
For Democratic voters then, it is a matter of determining who is the strongest among the three and who best aligns with one’s political philosophy and preferences. They must also spend sufficient time determining how to do this without creating damaging splits in the party.
For Republican voters, much of the same is true. In addition to that, because many of their candidates are less well-known and often less tested, much more research will need to be done.
Among Republicans, it is fair to say that Donald Trump is the best known of the candidates. He is the immediate past president, where he was twice impeached but not convicted. His tenure as president, and his time since then, is dotted with controversy. Even if he is nominated, it is possible that he will be convicted based upon several of those controversies. He may in fact be in prison before the election.
Aside from Trump, several of the Republicans are fairly well known, including Liz Chaney, who, although a high-profile Conservative, made quite a name for herself as a Trump opponent on the January 6 congressional investigation committee. Although she has not announced that she is running, because of her fear of Trump destroying American democracy, she may run even as an Independent, in order to keep him out of office. Then there is Chris Christie, a former governor of New Jersey and Trump campaign advisor. This kept him somewhat in the spotlight. Now on the campaign trail, he has been particularly critical of Trump, as a president and as a person. Third, there is Ron DeSantis, who is serving as governor of Florida. He is a most reactionary political spokesperson and sells himself as an alternative choice who is similar to Trump but can be a winner in areas where Trump cannot.
Additionally, there is Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and United Nations Ambassador. She is fairly well-known among Conservative voters but was in the shadow of Trump for much of his administration. There is also Mike Pence, who served as vice president with Donald Trump after serving as governor of Indiana. While he is mildly critical of Trump, he appears to be waiting for Trump to fall so that he can benefit from having been a Trump loyalist for so long. Another addition to the list is Tim Scott, the junior U.S. senator from South Carolina, who also happens to be the most prominent Black Republican congressperson. Finally, there is John Bolton, who served as an ambassador and foreign policy advisor most recently under Trump.
Lesser known among the Republican candidates are four who have served as governors, including Doug Burgum, the current governor of North Dakota; Asa Hutchinson, who is the immediate past president of Arkansas; Kristi Noem, the current governor of South Dakota; and Glen Youngkin, the immediate past governor of Virginia. Then there is Will Hurd, a former representative from Texas, who is a moderate and Trump critic; Larry Elder, a California talk show host; Corey Stapleton, a Montana politician; and Vivek Ramaswamy, an Ohio entrepreneur who appears to be the most right-wing of all the candidates.
With these lists in hand, voters can begin researching and deciding how to promote their preferred person so that he/she ends up in the final race. They can also begin determining how to eliminate the most objectionable candidates. With the early research having been done, there will be no need to listen to all of the campaign rhetoric which will be forthcoming from now until next fall.
America’s choice for president in 2024 will most likely come from the lists above. As citizens, we can and should maximize our influence in the matter based upon informed assessments. Otherwise, the most ambitious, cunning, corrupt, and ruthless among the candidates will have themselves selected.