| Washington Wrap |

Is History Repeating Itself?

Will 2024 be a rerun between Trump and Biden?

Last week, President Biden said in an interview that if his health permits it, he will run for another term. He added that if Trump runs against him, “that would raise the chances” of him running.

If Trump indeed runs against Biden again, in a rematch of the 2020 presidential election, it will be rare occurrence — but not unprecedented. In 1836, Vice President Martin Van Buren, a Democrat, won in his race against William Henry Harrison of the Whig party, and was elected America’s eighth president. But just four years later, Van Buren found himself facing the same opponent. Harrison made the economy the focus of his campaign, mocking the “Van Ruin” administration for the 1837 economic crisis. This time, Harrison was victorious.

Grover Cleveland, who was America’s 22nd and 24th president, presents an even more relevant comparison. He was elected in 1884, but lost his 1888 reelection bid to Republican Benjamin Harrison (a grandson of the ninth president). But Cleveland did not give up, and ran against Harrison again in 1892. This time, he won.

But running a second time does not necessarily guarantee victory. William Bryan, for example, ran twice against William McKinley, the 25th president, and lost. Adlai Stevenson lost twice against Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What will happen in 2024?

Trump is meanwhile keeping his cards close to his chest, making it difficult for potential rivals such as Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley to prepare, because they would certainly not want to run against Trump.

But if it indeed emerges that 2024 will be a rerun between Trump and Biden, many questions will be raised beyond the piquancy of history repeating itself.

For example: What about vice president? Trump and Mike Pence have reportedly had no contact since January 6, when Pence disappointed Trump by participating in the vote in the Senate to affirm the election outcome. Who will Trump choose as a vice president? Will it be one of those claiming to be his heir?

On the other hand, there have been numerous media reports that Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, do not get along. Will Biden choose to run for a second term while attempting to find another running mate, in light of Harris’s nosediving popularity?

Another question relates to Trump’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which were frozen after the January 6 riot. Will the media giants unfreeze his accounts and enable Trump to resume communicating with his tens of millions of followers on those platforms?

Another question relates to the strategy Trump might adopt. As will be recalled, he claimed after he lost that the elections were “stolen.” If he continues to cast doubt on the integrity of the voting and counting process, he may find himself struggling to persuade people to go to the polls for him.

Biden is also expected to struggle. Firstly, it is not at all clear that the progressive camp will not run a primary opponent against him. Second, the oldest president in history is expected to sustain criticism from within about his advanced age, and there will be calls to vacate the seat for the younger generation. Biden supporters will say that it’s better to put up a moderate, centrist candidate against Trump, and not a young progressive.

The coming year will answer the question of whether history will repeat itself.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 892)

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