Policy doesn’t matter in 2024

Policy doesn’t matter in 2024

If there is one hard lesson the 2024 New Hampshire Primary has taught me, it is that presidential politics has nothing to do with policy. For me, that is a tough pill to swallow. 

When Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out, we lost the one Republican running on real-world success and actual values. The problem is that was all he had. He did not have the cult of personality of our former president, though he had much of the same platform. He also refused to turn Trump into the boogieman, which was the center of the Chris Christie campaign message. You can’t say Trump is the worst thing to happen to the Republican Party and turn around to say “vote red” when November comes around. Add in his total inability to get strong, national level fire brand support (outside of Ben Shapiro, who softened on him leading up to New Hampshire) and it is damn hard to gain momentum against the orange middle finger.

With DeSantis gone, Nikki Haley became the lone contender to Trump for the nomination. This is a huge problem for me, your favorite policy nut. So much of the Haley campaign has been lame attempts at girl-bossing and reminding everyone of her heritage. Her first big quote after DeSantis dropped out is there was “one fella and one lady left” and her major messaging has repeatedly harped on her Indian heritage, while, hypocritically, also spouting off about being against the current culture war. 

I think many underestimated the Gov. Chris Sununu endorsement to the politically middle of the road, normie types that still get their news only from newspapers and cable news. The Union Leader endorsement of her was not a surprise, but in it, once again, no policy. It came down to momentum, leadership, and age. Hate to break it to you, but Trump’s age only is brought up by people voting for Haley and the legacy media. The man has defied the odds and is sharp as a tack, just check out any of his stand-up comedy styled rallies for confirmation on that. Leadership can be seen as a decent quality, but leadership on what? Haley was part of Trump’s administration and is solidly in the pocket of the Republican donor class. She says crazy anti-privacy statements and aggressiveness on foreign policy leads many, like myself, to think we will have boots on the ground overseas. When it comes to momentum, it is one of the most temporally reliant factors. Yes, when the other contender for second place drops a couple days before the primary, of course that will help. But when she came in third place in Iowa, her home state primary still weeks away, and losing the tremendous local, political capital of Sununu by leaving the state… That is a huge problem. 

Trump isn’t about policy, only Trump. His ability to maintain the cult of personality is undeniable and 30% of the Republican base will follow him until his golden coffin is lowered into a Trump branded mausoleum with tickets selling for $50 each, two for one on Thursdays. On the campaign trail, he has been shouting some great things about locking down the border, using his unique brand of diplomacy to stop the foreign hot and warming conflicts, and softening on abortion. This led me, literally in the voting booth, to finally decide to vote for him, but his inability to shut is mouth is all that matters. Trump makes the story about Trump, in the same way Biden makes the story about Biden with his own nonstop issues. 

I don’t know how the next ten months will play out. All I can hope for is that Biden and Trump will pick solid vice presidents that can work up healthy momentum over the next four years. Both our major candidates are liabilities to the future of our country, but I always have hope that our Constitutional system has set us up for correction. My advice is don’t pay more attention to political news than your patience can handle. It is ok to be angry, but don’t take it out on those you disagree with. It is ok to be happy your candidate won, but don’t rub it in the face of others. Don’t assume everyone you know thinks the same way as you, your friend might vote for the other candidate for very specific and nuanced reasons that can’t be summarized in a political chant. I follow politics like sports, so may the best man win.


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