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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Looking ahead: What we know about the 2024 election

We live in unprecedented times—or at least, that’s what I’ve heard on the news. The media cycle moves so fast that I can barely keep up with it, and what I do catch is disheartening. School shootings, COVID-19 resurgences, healthcare bans and, of course, the all-encompassing election. Even though it’s over a year away, it seems like it’s all anyone can talk about.

Former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner of the nine Republican candidates that National Public Radio reports have announced their election campaigns, has been indicted on 91 felony charges across four different criminal cases, according to Business Insider. [1] [2] That’s not to mention his two separate impeachment trials from his 2016 presidency. Trump is an unpopular candidate on both sides of the aisle for plenty of reasons: For Democrats and even some Republicans, he’s too conservative, too controversial and too dishonest. According to the Pew Research Center, only 30 percent of all American adults have a positive view of Trump, and twice as many feel negatively about him. [3]

Despite his unlikely chances of winning, Trump seems to be all the media can focus on. This doesn’t seem to stem from him being a particularly strong candidate or because anyone thinks he’ll win; it’s because whenever he says something shocking and outrageous, people listen. David Buckley, the president of UMass Boston’s campus Republicans, agrees. Although he remains neutral on the merits of a second Trump presidency, he said, “We obviously have a lot of problems in our world, but I think that the media definitely focuses on what garners the public’s attention.” Right now, that’s Trump.  

None of the other Republican candidates feel as worthy of mention. Former Vice President Mike Pence appeals to the same voter crowd that Trump does, but he unfortunately alienated huge swathes of them by refusing to overturn the government on Jan. 6. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis could be a promising choice for Republican voters in 2024 if he weren’t even more radically conservative than Trump himself. Nikki Haley has based her entire campaign around opposing Trump and not much else, leaving a lot to be desired policy-wise. Vivek Ramaswamy is a fresh new face that no one’s heard of and for whom no one will vote, and everyone else is competing for the remaining point in the polls.  

Buckley isn’t critical of any one candidate specifically; rather, he’s critical in general of candidates who focus too strongly on their media presence. 

“If you’re focusing on media attention without getting the job done first, you’re doing a bad job…,” Buckley said. The people who get the most stuff done in Congress are the people you hear the least about. You never see them in the news; you see them in the backrooms writing bills.” He believes Republican voters should rally behind whoever has the strongest, most concrete platform, not who talks the biggest talk.  

For the Democrats, President Joe Biden seems to be the only candidate. According to U.S. News, Marianne Williamson, a self-help author who lost a bid for president in 2020, is running again this year. However, her campaign’s a long shot—don’t worry if you’ve never heard of her, because neither have I. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running as an Independent, could be a competitor to both President Biden and former President Trump if he weren’t so centrist; Kennedy disagrees with Trump’s more hardline policies but is also anti-vaccine and has been directly linked to many far-right candidates. [4]

There are a few hot-button issues that will probably be important in the upcoming election. According to Buckley, the economy is going to be a huge factor for many Republican voters in 2024.

“When you look at [Trump’s] actual economic policies, the economy was still going up, it was still doing well and nobody really focused on it,” said Buckley. Contrast that to the economy under Biden, which Buckley said benefits the wealthy first. High inflation and frivolous government spending leave no time for prices to go back down, and college students are going to be hit hardest by Democratic spending. Buckley said, “Regardless of what you think of some Republican candidates, they have the right idea about the economy…[They’re] trying to provide a living for the average American.”

With dozens of states across the country having instituted transgender healthcare, bathroom and sports bans, it appears that this issue will follow us into the 2024 election as well. As a transgender man, it’s unsettling, to say the least, to have my entire existence be the subject of debate. It materially affects my life: Planned Parenthood, the provider I receive transgender healthcare from, was defunded in my home state, and suddenly my life got a lot more difficult—and expensive. Arguments about transgender lives mirror arguments about gay marriage from the late 1990s and early 2000s. They’re unnatural! They’re degenerates! Ignore the fact that, according to Medical News Today, less than one percent of the American population is transgender, and of those that medically transition, 70 percent reported significant quality of life improvements [5]. Won’t anybody think of the children? 

Speaking of Planned Parenthood, abortion rights are again at the forefront of political debates especially because of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022; it was unpopular then, and it’s unpopular now. According to NPR, nearly two thirds of Americans support abortion rights, including an astonishing 54 percent of Republicans. [6] Politicians in both parties wield abortion rights as a cudgel against the other side, ignoring the horrifying effects that denying access to any healthcare, abortion included, has on every American.  

There’s a growing trend of conservative ideals in politics, even under the most liberal president to date. Buckley attributes this to voter backlash to Biden’s more unpopular policies; like a pendulum, voters swing hard against the current president’s party, then back the other way after the next. It’s easy to feel like politics have become more divided along party lines since 2016, but your average American is far more centrist than most major news outlets let on. As it stands, the most extreme members of each party feel even more comfortable voicing their views even if the average party member isn’t as radical.

So where does that leave us? No one’s excited about next year, and for good reason considering how vitriolic the last election was. On one side of the ring is Trump, who might be in jail by the time the election even begins, and on the other, Biden, who might die of old age first. Buckley believes that voters dissatisfied with Biden’s handling of the economy will most likely vote more conservatively and might even swing the senate toward the Republicans, especially because most unregistered voters lean toward conservative candidates. However, Democrat voters could rally for social justice issues like abortion and LGBTQ+ rights and push another blue wave through Congress. With the election just over a year away, it’s anyone’s game.  

SOURCES:

[1] https://www.npr.org/2023/03/08/1160113954/2024-republican-presidential-candidates-who-is-running-tracker  

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-indictment-total-charges-counts-2023-8?op=1 

[3] https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2022/11/14/before-midterms-trumps-image-among-republicans-had-become-less-positive/  

[4] https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2023-10-09/whos-running-for-president-see-a-rundown-of-the-2024-candidates 

[5] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321258 

[6] https://www.npr.org/2023/04/26/1171863775/poll-americans-want-abortion-restrictions-but-not-as-far-as-red-states-are-going 

 

 

About the Contributor
Elijah Horwath, Opinions Editor