In 2004 and 2005, a total of 8,250,401 new Americans were born. Millions of them, will be voting for the first time on November 5, 2024 to elect, among others, the president of the United States.
From my senior citizen perspective, the 2 years and 8 months since the 2020 election have been variably depressing, extremely weird and deeply concerning, They have included: the violent 1/06/21 insurrection, a failed complex effort to overturn America’s democratic electoral process and on 1/20/2021, the first non-peaceful transfer of power in US history. What a contrast to those halcyon politics and elections of long ago.
More recently, a former US president and current 2024 candidate, has been indicted in 4 courts for 80+ allegations of criminal conduct. Some or all of the trials will be held before the 2024 election Opinions on this litigation have contributed to today’s deep chasm between Americans view of the current health and viability of the United States and its future.
The confluence of our sociopolitical seismic eruptions with the Covid-19 pandemic, severe global warming disasters, American domestic violence, the ongoing war in Ukraine and China’s belligerence to the US over Taiwan, lends something of an apocalyptic aura to the 2024 election season. And possibly reinforcing this more cosmic quality, is a campaign theme introduced by President Biden when he characterized next November’s choice for American voters as between authoritarianism and democracy.
And then there’s Social Media, blogs, chat rooms and special apps offering thousands of interpretations of all this for hundreds of millions of people, including many if not most, of first time American voters. I’m sure some of them follow (on-line) the Federal Reserve minutes, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports and the Council on Foreign Relations publications. Probably, most don’t.
This large number of first time American voters confront violence, dysfunction, confusion, sharply divided opinions and beliefs, suffused with high emotions. Not to mention a former US president running in the 2024 election who’s facing an array of criminal trials and strongly maintains election fraud stole his reelection. And millions of Americans agree. Some or all of this turmoil is no doubt present in their or their friends’ families, among peers and is inescapable on Social Media.
When I cast my first ballot, there were two dominant parties each with well known policy positions and attitudes towards governance. Easy and comfortable choices. If the 2023/24 political environment had existed then, I probably would not have voted. And I would guess this will be the decision of a number of new voters as well. Another possible option would be to maintain the peace and go with the family or friends’ flow.
What follows is a description of the formidable puzzle of issues facing those among them who want to make independent choices, not affected by fear mongering, alternative facts and loud voices.
Recent polling reveals large numbers of American adults already are or should be, in group therapy to address mass depression. And many of 2024 first-time voters live with, are taught by, or work for or know, these people. The likely impact on their 18 year-old children, students, bosses or parents’ friends is to discourage them from voting. Why bother trying to save a sinking ship?. Or maybe give it a shot.
Miasma: Unwholesome or foreboding atmosphere
Adult American Views on the State of the USA
Who? In danger of failing, Not in Danger, but Bad Problems
|All registered Voters||37.00%||26.00%|
NYT/Siena College Poll 7/2023
But, What does all this Mean?
If I were a shrink, which I’m not, but just based on the results of this poll, I would vote for all Democratic male candidates, including their much more successful and optimistic current president, seeking reelection. His major Republican competitor is a former president, who describes the US as failing and himself as the only salvation.
Also, on the Republican side, I was not surprised to find that the smallest member of the Party’s coalition (8%) called the “New Comers”,is the one with with the most young people (18-29); 59% are white and 18% Hispanic. They are solidly behind Mr. Trump and opposed to President Biden.
The article goes on to describe them, surprisingly, as overwhelmingly in support of immigration reform and social acceptance of transgender people. Not exactly in line with the Freedom Caucus or the 52% of the Party, labeled either Traditional Conservatives (Rick Perry-like) or Right Wing (Ted Cruz-like).
The New Comers (Vivek Ramaswamy-like) are said to be deeply unhappy with the state of the country and 90% believe the US economy is poor. They agreed they would support candidates focused on fighting the radical “Woke” rather than those targeting law and order.
I have no idea what America’s first time 2024 voters will do. However, given the environment they now inhabit, I wish them God Speed. However, I do offer, for reflection, three quotes from two founding fathers expressing their views on future American elections.
“American elections provide a moral certainty that the office of president will seldom fall to the lot of any man, who is not in an eminent degree, endowed with the requisite qualifications.”
“The people will have the virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom to lead their Republic. If not, then Americans are in a wretched situation”
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. Wherever there is interest and power to do wrong, wrong will generally win.”
Tom Timberman is an Army vet, lawyer, former senior Foreign Service officer, adjunct professor at GWU, and economic development team leader or foreign government advisor in war zones. He is the author of four books, lectures locally and at US and European universities. He and his wife are 24 year residents of Kent County.