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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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OPINION | To fight or flinch: Why Democrats need to get serious about 2024

Mylie Bluhm

The 2024 U.S. presidential election will be one of the most important in history. As Democrats and Republicans vie for power, the hostile political battleground we have watched unfold for years is now reaching its apex. Amid the vengeful resurgence of the MAGA movement, the threat of authoritarianism grows ever closer. The fates of hundreds of millions of people could be sealed this November — and as primary elections ensue, a troubling reality has become apparent: the Democrats don’t have much of a plan.

Since the 2020 presidential election, the Democratic Party has more or less cruised on the waning momentum of Joe Biden’s victory against former president Donald J. Trump, regularly failing to deliver on major legislative promises as Republican lawmakers repeatedly threaten fundamental human rights. Nowadays, their protocol is the same as it was then: double down on support for Biden no matter what, even if it means ignoring and alienating their voter base.

After years of recycling the same public relations campaign, their redundant celebration of the 2020 election results has become a paltry platitude designed to distract from their inadequate performance in Congress and the White House. A non-Trump presidency is the bare minimum for the U.S. populace, and the Democratic Party must realize they can’t bank on Biden any longer.

Four years ago, Democratic electoral priorities were clear: vote Trump out of office and start healing from the damage of his egotism, hubris and autocratic politics. From his failure to properly address the COVID-19 pandemic to his increasingly authoritarian measures taken against those protesting systemic police brutality, the urgency of ousting Trump in the upcoming election had become clearer than ever. Under these pressing circumstances, Democrats encouraged the country to “vote blue no matter who” to set the stage for a much-needed pivot away from Trumpism.

At the time, Biden served as an acceptable starting point for national course correction: a center-left Democratic candidate with the right kinds of campaign promises and policy goals to satisfy younger voters during election season. At the time, a transitional presidency was ideal, and Biden’s voter base decided to temporarily settle for centrism if it meant paving the road to better leaders. Times are different now, however, and Biden has demonstrated himself to be unworthy of our compromise.

Since he took office in 2021, Biden has been a terribly disappointing president for many younger progressives, including myself. Despite his lofty ambitions in 2020, he has repeatedly fallen short on many of his biggest campaign promises, failing to codify Roe v. Wade in 2022 and approving the controversial drilling Willow Project in Alaska, directly contradicting his stated goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Moreover, despite pledging to curb the Trump-era policy of forcibly holding asylum seekers in detention centers, Biden has actively worked to open more of these inhumane facilities, forcing families to live in makeshift rooms without basic necessities. Rather than enact the positive change he promised in 2020, Biden has indicated that his true loyalties lie with the status quo he upholds, perpetuating the same human rights abuses he vowed to abolish.

While his broken promises alone speak to the need for his replacement, Biden’s heinous foreign policy decisions arguably overshadow his dismal shortcomings in domestic policy. Since late 2023, the Biden administration has actively been supplying weapons and funding to the Israeli government, which — under the authority of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — has been committing crimes against humanity against the people of Gaza.

By aiding and bankrolling Netanyahu’s unrelenting violence against Gazan civilians, Biden has become complicit in these atrocities and continued a longstanding presidential tradition of perpetuating systemic violence in the SWANA region to protect the interests of the U.S. government and its allies. Despite the veneer of progressivism he and other Democrats use in their campaigns, Biden has proven that he is cut from the same imperialist cloth as his fellow warhawks in the GOP.

Biden’s support of Israel Defense Forces brutality was the last straw for a significant portion of his voter base, and many vowed not to vote for him in November. Despite the rightful outrage at his decisions, Biden continues to be woefully out of touch with his voter base, ignoring the backlash and continuing with his bid for reelection as normal.

Instead of listening to their supporters, a good portion of the Democratic Party has continued to present the myth that Biden is the last line of defense between the U.S. and the return of Trumpism. They, too, are out of touch with their support base and have no appreciable plan other than the hope that their provisional 2020 strategy can work in a fundamentally different political environment.

Make no mistake, we must never underestimate the threat which Trump still poses to the country and to democracy itself. After his unsuccessful campaign in the 2020 presidential election, he and his supporters have embarked on a ruthless campaign of disinformation and propaganda, perpetuating the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was supposedly stolen, or that the results were somehow invalid.

Determined to seize power after losing to Biden, Trump and his adherents orchestrated a coup d’état on Jan. 6, 2021, intent on overturning the results of the presidential election. Much to the relief of the country, the extremist violence enacted by the MAGA movement and its allies had failed. As numerous investigations over the years continue to shed light on the nature and origin of the insurrection, Trump has descended further into authoritarian and ethnonationalist rhetoric, compared by many to the phraseology of fascist dictators like Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini.

Amid 91 criminal charges and the prospect of prosecution for sedition, the former president has declared revenge on his political opponents, referring to them as “vermin” to be “crushed.” Vowing to target journalists and demonizing immigrants in statements of virulent xenophobia, one thing is for sure: a second Trump presidency would be disastrous.

Alongside Trump are the purveyors of the infamous Project 2025, a Republican-led initiative to reshape the U.S. federal government and place the entirety of the executive branch under presidential control. It also seeks to destroy the separation of church and state, which has already been targeted heavily by religious conservatives over the past several years.

In their campaign to enforce Christian nationalism and install a theocracy, the extremist politicians behind this project have openly declared their intent to target the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community, seeking to enforce further bans on abortion and gut LGBTQ+ freedoms such as healthcare and marriage. In the face of this existential threat, the Democrats have no plan of action — they only have Biden.

The Democratic Party has become the party of inertia, impotence and empty promises. If they can’t do so much as present a legitimate alternative to Biden in 2024, let alone a candidate capable of keeping their word, then the country has already lost to the totalitarian aspirations of the Republican Party — the very thing Democrats claim to be capable of fighting. We deserve a candidate we can actually vote for rather than simply a means of voting against Trump. The Democratic Party owes us a plan for 2024, not just the dubious promise of being better.

If our presidential elections involve settling for “lesser evils” in order to avoid authoritarianism every four years, then we can hardly call ourselves the democracy we purport ourselves to be. If we are forced to settle for inadequacy to preserve what little we have left of our electoral freedom, then we never had such liberty to begin with.

Biden had his chance in office, and in that time he has shown us exactly why the Democrats are bound to fail on their current path. If they want a shot at reelection this year, they need to start taking things seriously and stop clinging to the status quo they claim to oppose. If we want to beat the GOP this fall, we need someone who can actually hold their own against the Republican Party — someone with the courage to challenge them.

We deserve a younger, far more progressive Democratic candidate who understands their constituents and the issues they face — and more importantly, one who will follow through on their campaign goals and veer away from U.S. imperialistic violence. We deserve a candidate we don’t have to settle for out of desperation, because empty promises and milquetoast politics won’t protect marginalized communities from the politicians trying to take away their rights.

As the presidential election inches closer, our circumstances have become bleakly clear: the Democrats need to stand up and start fighting — because we all lose if they flinch in November.

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