There is a lot of time before the 2024 presidential election, but the core issues are taking shape now. Although the last election was won and lost over the COVID pandemic, it does not appear that this will even be one of the top ten issues even debated.
On the other hand, the immigration crisis at the southern border, which put President Donald Trump over the top in 2016, is bigger than ever. During the Biden administration, the estimates of illegal immigrants getting into the United States vary from two million to over five million migrants, depending on whom you read. The Department of Homeland Security estimates 4.5 million encounters prior to the termination of Title 42, with 1.2 million known “gotaways.”
Mayor Eric Adams of New York City is constantly sounding the alarm bells, as the influx of migrants who need shelter and basic services overwhelms the system. Other cities closer to the southern border have it a lot worse. In addition, 98 known or suspected terrorists were found by border patrol agents. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Many more probably made it through. All of this is playing right smack into Trump’s wheelhouse. Unless President Biden can once and for all calm the crisis at the southern border, this will be a super core issue of the election.
Elections are generally decided by the way Americans feel about their wallets and pocketbooks. With inflation rampant, gas prices still high, interest rates rising, and banks failing, the economy does not forebode well for the Democrats in 2024. The Biden administration is trying hard to put the brakes on inflation, but most economists predict a recession in the next 18 months, making the economy still the number one core issue that will sway voters.
Unlike 2016 and 2020, on the foreign policy front, there is the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The Democrats have done reasonably well in terms of providing aid to a beleaguered country fighting for its freedom, but Democrats have done little to bring peace. I believe this will be a core issue. Who can bring rapid peace to a very bad war? Ending the conflict should be a major goal of whoever is president.
The disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal by President Biden will come back to haunt him. The loss of life, the loss of billions of dollars in military hardware, and the capitulation to the Taliban don’t sit well with the American public. Although foreign policy generally is not high on American voters’ lists, the Middle East can become a core issue overnight. If Israel decides to once and for all attack Iran’s nuclear reactors, the support for Israel will come from the Republicans in Congress. The radical wing of the Democratic Party will make this into a wedge issue. American Jews might well change their vote if this were to happen.
The rapid rise of crime and lawlessness, and at the same time the persistent push to “defund the police,” will remain a high priority for the American voter. This is where Republicans do well.
“Wokeism,” which fosters historical revisionism, also plays well into Republicans’ hands.
The Supreme Court’s upturning of Roe v. Wade, which had a major impact on the midterm elections of 2022, will have less of an impact in 2024. Family values may actually gain ground. Americans don’t want to see further erosion of the family unit.
Core issues can develop very quickly in America. COVID is just one example. The immigration crisis and the economy are the top two at this juncture. I am looking forward to a healthy debate on all these issues.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.