Frontrunners Emerge in 2024 Presidential Battle


President Biden has officially announced he is running for reelection in the 2024 presidential election, adding to a growing number of candidates who have already begun campaigning for the presidency.

Among those who have already announced their candidacy are Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., both Democrats. Kennedy, the son of Senator Robert Kennedy, is an avowed anti-vaccine activist who has explained that he “fundamentally disagrees” with Biden’s policies regarding Covid restrictions and economic policy.

Williamson, an author and spiritual advisor who fell short in a long-shot bid for the presidency in 2020, says she is running again “to create a vision of justice and love that is so powerful that it will override the forces of hatred and injustice,” according to her official campaign website.

The candidates comprising the Republican ticket are former President Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Larry Elder, and Vivek Ramaswamy. Haley served as Governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, while later serving as the American Ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump Administration. Elder is a right-wing political commentator and talk-show host who unsuccessfully ran for Governor of California in 2021.

Ramaswamy is an author and entrepreneur who founded the Biotech corporation Proviant Sciences in 2014. Ramaswamy has gained attention in conservative circles for his criticism of environmental, political, and social causes advanced by Democrats, including what he has called “woke’ agendas in schools.

“We’re in the middle of a national identity crisis,” Ramaswamy says in a 3-minute campaign announcement video. “Faith, patriotism and hard work have disappeared, only to be replaced by new secular religions like covidism, climatism and gender ideology.”

In the video Biden released to announce his presidency, the President touched on themes of freedom and unity, outlining the progress he has made so far during his first term.

“Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans—there is nothing more important,” Biden starts the video by explaining. “That’s been the work of my first term—to fight for our democracy. This shouldn’t be a red or blue issue.”

Since announcing his reelection bid, President Biden has faced questions and criticism over his age and cognitive abilities. At 80, Biden is the oldest president in history and would be 86 by the end of his second term, if reelected. Although he continues to be confident in his mental fitness, some, including Trump, claim Biden lacks the mental competence required to be president.

Dr. Pamela Maddock, History and Global Studies teacher at Williston, believes Biden’s age is not a major factor, since former President Trump, who may likely become the Republican nominee, was also the oldest president at the time of his tenure.

“Biden would be the oldest, but if [Trump] is his main opponent—and he is the frontrunner at the moment – then the two major party candidates would be oldest and second oldest,” Maddock said.

This is not the first time, Maddock told The Willistonian, that presidents have faced criticism over their age and mental fitness.

“Historically, there have been plenty of other instances of concern about presidents’ health and ability to serve,” Maddock explained. “Woodrow Wilson had a stroke while in office … and many speculated about Ronald Reagan suffering from dementia—so yes, there have been questions in the past about the Commander in Chief having the body and mind that allowed them to serve.”

The presidential race has also become complicated by the fact Trump was recently been indicted on criminal charges. On April 4, the District Attorney of Manhattan announced that it was prosecuting Trump on 34 different criminal counts, which mostly stem from the payments he made to cover up an affair leading up to the 2016 election.

“During the election, [Trump] and others employed a “catch and kill” scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” the official indictment states. “Trump then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries … to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate election laws.”

It is unprecedented for a presidential candidate to seek the presidency while awaiting a criminal trial, and such a situation could have long-lasting implications in the current election cycle, as well as in years to come.

“This is unprecedented—that a candidate who has been indicted by a grand jury is running, and is the frontrunner, in an election for president,” Maddock told The Willistonian. “And because it’s so unprecedented, I’m not sure anyone really knows what it means. It’s uncharted territory.”

Amid numerous investigations and his recent arrest, most of Trump’s support base has remained strong, with many Trump supporters claiming the indictment does not change their view of him. Despite mounting evidence enhancing the case against Trump, many of those loyal to him believe that the charges are politically motivated.

“This is all just a bunch of B.S. so that Trump doesn’t run for president,” Shaun Lloyd, a loyal Trump supporter, told The Guardian. “The American people are waking up more than ever, every day, to the truth, and the lies the Democrats are telling them.”

Americans are starkly divided in response to Trump’s recent arrest, further polarizing an already tense political environment across party lines.

According to a CNN poll, 60 percent of Americans approve of the indictment, while a significant portion of those polled still object to the arrest.

The poll also showed that nearly all Republicans, 93 percent, see the indictment as politically motivated, including 83% who say politics played a major role. Among independents, 52% say politics played a major role, while only 25 percent of the Democrats polled believe politics played a part.

Some believe that the divisions caused by Trump’s arrest demonstrate that America’s polarized political climate will not be strongly unified any time soon.

“When I look at the numbers that are coming in when we do the polling, I don’t see any daylight in the distance as far as polarization melting away,” Tim Malloy, an analyst for the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, explained. “That’s not opinion; just looking at the numbers – they really never change.”

To Maddock, Trump supporters’ unwavering loyalty toward the president in the face of his arrest is not surprising. Trump’s recent behavior, Maddock told The Willistonian, is no different from how he acted while first running for president in 2016.

“I think it’s more consistent than it is a departure from what we’ve already seen,” Maddock said. “The allegations of assault, the lies, the cheating—these are public. It’s not as if people support him because of his integrity and then this indictment would make them change their mind.”

Some Williston students will be able to vote in the upcoming elections, many for the first time. Maddock believes that it is important for young people to become involved in the democratic process by voting, regardless of which candidates they are supporting.

“It’s extremely important that students learn how to register to vote and encourage each other to do so,” Maddock told The Willistonian. “States make the rules for voter registration, so students need to check what the rules are for their state.”