Folks, we have to do better than Joe Biden or Donald Trump

Editorial Note: Once again, for the record, I'm not a Democrat or Republican. I'm a conservative Independent who has never belonged to a political party. 

Have you ever seen a big mechanical breakdown? The arms and belts of a machine get into some kind of hinky relationship and begin dancing. There’s this moment of suspense about whether the process under way will slow down and the machine will implode relatively safely. 

But, as often as not, the problem is that inertial and load-bearing parts of the system have broken away, so everything just speeds up terrifyingly. You know an arm or belt is going to escape its current centripetal motion and just launch at terminal velocity. You can just hope that you’re not standing in its way.

That’s how I feel watching the 2024 election shaping up. Some of the brakes in the system are clearly not working. 

A man who has been indicted four times for 91 criminal acts shouldn’t be running for president of the United States. And he really shouldn’t be the front-runner. And yet he is. 

Also, the sitting president’s Justice Department shouldn’t have an open investigation against its chief political rival, one that will allow the attorney general or his deputies to bring forth testimony and hearings at times that will manipulate the political cycle. 

None of this should happen, but we all feel that each action — Trump running again, Biden indicting him — is the logical and necessary consequence of some other previous failure. 

Like a mechanical breakdown, the physical laws of the universe are being obeyed — all the political momentum is understandable and even somewhat predictable. But the engineering failure guarantees that the result is a disaster.

None of the parts of this election fit together. 

Democrats sincerely believe that Donald Trump is a threat to the Constitution of the United States. They believe his disrespect for the law and norms of office, combined with his ability to command the political loyalty of scores of millions of Republicans, threatens to tear apart the American system. Some of them believe that Trump’s affinity for foreign tyrants, and his proclaimed determination to end the war in Ukraine, somehow puts the fate of the whole free world at stake. 

And yet, Democrats have no other plan to avert these enormities than to re-run Joe Biden, who is plainly heading into steep cognitive decline and whom over 70 percent of the country believes is too old to be president. Again, the political physics are just entirely mismatched. The Joe Biden of 2024 is not safety-rated for a project of this scale.

Donald Trump is similarly unfit for Republican ambitions. 

Republicans sincerely believe that a critical number of private and public institutions in national life have been entirely captured by progressives and are now being weaponized against them. Academia and the intelligence agencies produce bogus studies about disinformation, that are then used to recommend censorship across the internet. Little old ladies and Franciscan friars who protest at abortion clinics are getting the book thrown at them, while illegal immigrants get invited to a free stay in Manhattan hotels. Some states are vaguely hinting that Christian forms of parenting are inherently abusive of children, denying Christians the ability to adopt. 

Republicans want to drain the swamp, but are nominating a man who, when he was president, was regularly defied by the Pentagon and other agencies. “Wokeness” flourished in American institutions during his administration. 

For Republicans to even have a hope of rebalancing the executive branch’s institutions, they need an administrator with ferocious follow-through, and they probably need him for two terms. Donald Trump can’t be either of those things.

How can the United States claim to be a functioning republic when it now regularly produces elections where the candidates are so loathed by such large numbers of the population? Nearly 60 percent of the country said that Donald Trump should not hold office again, but in a head-to-head matchup with Biden, he’s currently leading. Nearly three-quarters of the country believes Biden is too old to be president at all. But, again, matched against Trump, many Democrats are concluding that he’s their best and only realistic hope.

It’s very foreseeable how a significant portion of the Left would respond to a Donald Trump victory, as Donald Trump responded to a Joe Biden victory: with extra-legal means. It’s very foreseeable that a Joe Biden victory is dangerous to the country — having a mentally incapacitated member of the Silent Generation as commander in chief while the country is fighting a proxy war against the largest nuclear-armed power on Earth has some rather obvious downsides.

What does it say about our civilization that we’re all just sitting here, watching this unfold as if it were a TikTok video from the third world, and not the fate of our country?

Neither Democrats’ nor Republicans’ actions make sense compared with what they claim to believe, and the results could be disastrous for the country. In addition to the ongoing challenges the country faces, which are significant, it’s impossible to know what new challenges might appear between now and January 2029, when the term of whoever wins in 2024 will conclude. I don’t want Donald Trump or Joe Biden to be the one who has to face them, and most Americans agree with me.

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