HomePoliticsThe two types of voters who will decide 2024

The two types of voters who will decide 2024

For as long as we have had elections, voters have been engaged in an ongoing debate over whether to support the candidate who best serves their own interests or the candidate who best serves the republic as a whole. For many partisan voters, there is no real debate: their own interests and their views about the greater good overlap considerably.

But voters who are not in love with either party or either nominee will rationalize their choices in different ways. And since many voters fall into that category this year, these lines of thinking could decide the election.

Some voters will respond to aspirational calls about what is in America’s best interests abroad or what is in the best interests of the country as a whole. Others will be persuaded to rationalize their vote based on pure transactional sentiments: this person will keep taxes low, this person will stay out of the business world — or, as my great-grandfather used to suggest about voting in Chicago’s mayoral races in the In the 1950s and 1960s, this candidate guarantees that the trash will be collected – especially if the entire neighborhood expresses support for ‘the machine’.

In 2020 I would say: Joe Biden benefited from both types of wavering, swing voters, the ambitious and the transactional. The ambitious Biden voter envisioned a second term Donald Trump versus a first Biden term as a guiding signal to the rest of the world about who America is and is not – and whether America could be a reliable ally or a rogue superpower.

The transactional voter of 2020 also seemed to slightly favor Biden. Many of these generally right-wing voters saw the chaos and deliberate division of the Trump years (combined with his erratic management of the pandemic) as simply bad for business and for their own lives. Biden wasn’t necessarily the person these people wanted to appoint as government overseers, but they were exhausted by the daily headaches that Trump’s words and actions would cause them or their families or colleagues. They voted for Biden in an effort to turn the page on the Trump era and start over.

Now, in 2024, the same arguments are hitting the part of the electorate that will be decisive – the so-called double haters. These are people telling pollsters they have a negative view of both Biden and Trump. The double haters leaned Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and they leaned Biden over Trump in 2020.

So where does this debate stand in 2024? I’m more preoccupied with this question because I’ve noticed the transactional argument becoming increasingly popular in some of the wealthier corners of the country. Specifically, this way of thinking is quite acute in the tech community.

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I must confess that the impetus for this column idea was Elon Musk’s following X-post from last week, which was endorsed by Silicon Valley investor and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen.

What I see in this post is deep cynicism about society as a whole. The online world is a debate about extreme ideas, not nuanced ones, so maybe I should just consider this post as one of those extremely reactionary posts that clutter most social media feeds.

But it is worth highlighting this because of the major influence the technology world can have on the country’s social conscience. And one thing I’ve noticed in particular in the tech community is a transactional mentality covered in a thick layer of cynicism that says there really is no greater good: we’re all just participating in a game of survival of the fittest. Musk and Peter Thiel are probably the two best avatars of this way of thinking. And how deep that line of thinking goes could be important in the elections.

Look, I struggle between the pull of the rational and the ambitious, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. The concept of realpolitik was a very successful mindset for American foreign policy in the 20th century, at least from the perspective of what was best for the US. But the same concept wasn’t exactly great for those who were victims of repressive regimes that the US supported. simply because it was in the best interest of the US

Adding a touch of morality to our foreign policy is a hopeful goal for many of us, but when and how we will achieve that is also up for debate.

There is probably no set of relationships more transactional than those the US has with several Gulf states (think Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar), all of which are of course tied to the price of energy for Americans.

I do not deny from time to time the need for true pragmatism, where the concept of ‘the end justifies the means’ prevails. But I think there is a limit. And for me, that’s the moment when the transactional is informed by the cynical.

I think Trump’s basic talk, especially to the business community, is: “I’m just like you – I’m ambitious when it comes to money and power, so I understand you and I will work with you. But make no mistake, you to have to hang out with me, and if you don’t, I have no problem making your life miserable.

In a sense, the straightforwardness with which Trump has telegraphed how to lobby him fits into this cynical ideology that has taken root in some quarters.

Another term from Trump would mean that the cynical view of politics as nothing more than a transaction would become more mainstream. And one of Biden’s challenges is to get these cynics to believe in ambitious governance again.

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Many in the tech world have given up on Biden – “he doesn’t understand the real world,” “he’s naive,” “he’s influenced by the woke class,” and so on. Trump’s appeal to these people is simply that he is who he is. They know there’s always a way to get Trump, and they know Trump won’t judge them for the way they do business and make money.

Why doesn’t Trump judge them? Because Trump does not want to be judged by others for the way he acquired his wealth or power. The end justifies the means, period. Success is success for Trump, whether people did it the hard way or the right way, or whether they inherited their wealth and power or acquired it under the table.

Ultimately, I believe that the election will be won by the candidate who exudes the most optimism about America’s future. That’s why I’m skeptical that Trump’s very negative messaging will ultimately succeed. But if it works and the less optimistic candidate wins over this last group of swing voters, it could be a sign that we are transitioning to a different kind of government and politics.

I’m not naive; I know that money and power will always have a major influence on our politics. But if they are not accompanied by some morality and some optimism about creating a greater good, then I don’t think we will appreciate the results that come from governing through this mentality.

That said, Biden must prove to these cynical voters that politics can have a heart again and that Washington can govern both strategically and morally.

Given that our politics has lacked this for some time, it is easy to understand why some voters are giving up on the idea of ​​ambitious governance. Biden did this well when he was not in office; he has had a much harder time selling this idea as president, with the border being the best example of a debate between the aspirational (America is a nation of immigrants and a protector of the oppressed) and the transactional (we should focus on those who want to). here and save them first).

In many ways, what’s on the ballot this November is how we see ourselves and how we see the game of life.

Seriously or literally… again

To say that reporting on Trump’s use of the word “massacre” was exaggerated is an understatement. The debate over defeating Trump will never end. What you discuss in what he says and what you don’t amplify is a debate that will probably never be resolved – especially on social media!

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Here’s a simple North Star for anyone who thinks they’re a member of the media: Focus on what Trump has done in office and what he plans to do next in office. Unfortunately, you can never take Trump’s word at face value. He says he’s for one thing one day, but comes back the next. TikTok and whether it should be banned is just the latest of many, many, many examples. Therefore, it is a waste of time and energy to simply concentrate only on his rhetoric.

If the rhetoric is accompanied by action, that’s a different story. Then the rhetoric is potentially just as newsworthy as the action itself. In short: debate his policies, debate his actions, but at this point every stupid or inflammatory comment he makes pales in importance compared to the question: what will he do in a second term?

From overcover to undercover

As much attention as the “massacre” attracted, the bigger story of the past week — and perhaps the most consequential development of the past week — was former Vice President Mike Pence’s public announcement that he will not support Trump for a second term .

For whatever reason, it hasn’t attracted much attention, at least not yet. But when this campaign comes to a close and the battle for the “double haters” and other undecided voters is most acute, a potentially powerful ad will be the montage of first-term Trump appointees who all now say he is essentially unfit is for a new election. second semester.

The list gets quite long: his vice president, at least one attorney general (William Barr), two secretaries of defense (Jim Mattis and Mark Esper), two national security advisers (John Bolton and Henry McMaster), two chiefs of staff (John Kelly and Mick Mulvaney) and a former ambassador to the United Nations (Nikki Haley).

There are others that could end up on this list: Former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has not endorsed it and probably won’t, but she hasn’t said anything about Trump since denouncing his anti-Asian rhetoric. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also someone who has simply chosen not to say anything lately. Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats didn’t use the word “unqualified,” but he did endorse Pence in the primaries.

This list will not convince anyone in the Republican base that the Trump era should end. But this list and its accompanying testimonials could be quite effective with that voter who really has issues with the Biden-Harris ticket. Whatever you think of Biden, he has at least governed competently enough not to drive the top members of his own party away from this presidency.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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