By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor
MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE
Reposted from The Hill – March 23, 2023
Last month The Hill reported, “Seven issues that will define the 2024 election” — Social Security and Medicare; education; abortion; foreign policy; immigration; LGBTQ-related concerns; and crime. Although fiscally critical, divisive and emotional, these hot-button issues – combined with the traditional quadrennial question about how voters perceive their economic situation – could be overshadowed by five potentially explosive circumstances unique to 2024.
Here is why Americans should dread or even fear next year’s presidential election.
1. Proliferation of fake content
Everyone is familiar with “fake news,” immortalized by former President Trump and applied to any media critical of him. But more consequential is realistic-looking fake content, called “deepfakes,” quickly produced through technological advancements.
Across all communication platforms, deepfakes are maliciously intended to deceive, confuse, create chaos, unduly influence, sway public opinion and propagandize. They also sometimes provide comedic entertainment.
Comedy aside, the 2024 presidential race will be the first election widely subjected to this sinister, hostile, challenging and uncontrollable message environment. As a result, campaigns and candidates are exceptionally vulnerable to domestic and foreign players intending to harm or boost candidates and or attempt to subvert or destabilize the democratic process. The potential for mayhem is limitless.
For example, during the recent banking crisis, the Associated Press reported, “Fake audio falsely claims to reveal private Biden comments.” Supposedly, in the background, Biden was heard saying, “All the money is gone” and “a collapse is imminent.” Then social media began sharing Biden’s concerns with their economically debilitating consequences. Fortunately, in this case, the fake was quickly exposed.
But in the heat of a fast-paced campaign, will voters be able to distinguish between real or fake ads and private comments that could cause irreparable damage?
Are news organizations and campaigns prepared to promptly detect fake from real? Watch as campaigns, social media and news outlets fight an uphill battle against a barrage of fakes, with many bound to slip through. Indeed, millions of dollars are needed for sophisticated high-tech fact-checking and investigative know-how to address the fakery challenge presented by the 2024 election.
Remember the old saying, “A lie travels halfway around the globe before the truth puts on its pants.” The new version asks, “Deep fake or real, who can tell the difference?”
2. Hangover from 2020
Our nation’s friends and enemies will watch closely whether the world’s “longest-standing democracy” can peacefully elect and inaugurate its next president without aggrieved citizens violently attacking the building symbolizing freedom and liberty.
The problem is 28 percent of adults still believe the 2020 election was stolen. As always, the burden of conducting a free and fair national election falls on local and state authorities and voters’ trust that the system will flawlessly perform and correctly tabulate. Such decentralization is the hallmark of our voting system — making widespread national corruption nearly impossible.
Thankfully, and generally speaking, trust was restored after the 2022 midterm elections were conducted with minimal controversy. However, presidential voter turnout is always significantly higher, and the main perpetrator who sparked and fostered distrust in 2020 could again appear atop the 2024 ballot.
Nevertheless, what American presidential voters must not repeat or believe (distinctly un-American thinking) is that their candidate lost because the election was rigged. Remember, the world will be watching, and national credibility is at stake.
3. A two-front war could dominate the 2024 election
With much fanfare, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Moscow this week. The Washington Post reported they “proclaimed their plans to deepen Sino-Russian political and economic cooperation for years to come — sending a strong message to the West about their determination to push back against the global domination of the United States.”
Translation: A win-win marriage. China wants cheap Russian energy to pursue global domination, while Russia needs cash to recapture its lost Soviet empire. The relationship was best summarized by White House spokesman John Kirby, who said that Russia was China’s “junior partner.”
How do Xi’s and Putin’s goals impact the 2024 presidential election? Naturally, domestic issues dominate, but China and Russia know that polarization is increasingly heightened during a presidential election year when a divided USA means a weaker USA. Thus, 2024 could be when this dangerous duo coordinates strategic and aggressive moves in Europe and Asia.
NATO is concerned China might arm Russia in its war against Ukraine, and through attrition, Russia could ultimately triumph and threaten NATO countries engaging the U.S. More problematic is if China tries to reclaim Taiwan, conceivably gaining control over 63 percent of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing — a game changer for the U.S. economy.
4. An indicted major party presidential candidate
Trump is the wild card in the highest-stakes contest with no playbook. The question is, how many times will he be indicted? Will trial(s) occur in 2023 or spill into 2024? How does a former president/leading presidential candidate go on trial? Count on Team Trump to construe any action by state or federal charging authorities as politically motivated. Americans will watch as the former president plays victim and hero, as previewed in his recent CPAC speech:
“In 2016, I declared I am your voice. Today I add, I am your warrior. I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”
Is America ready for the Trump show’s most dramatic season?
5. Trump v. Biden
A majority of Americans are dissatisfied with what looks like an inevitable rematch. A February 2023 Post-ABC poll found 62 percent of Americans would be “dissatisfied” or “angry” if Biden won reelection, while 56 percent feel the same about Trump.
Disgusted voters might blame a broken nomination process for the choice between two men born before the television age at a time when China appears to be winning the future and poised for world domination.
If Trump and Biden top the ballot, most voters will dread the 2024 election because America loses no matter who wins.
Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.TAGS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2024 REPUBLICANS CHINA DEEPFAKES DONALD TRUMP JOE BIDEN RUSSIA RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR TRUMP INDICTMENT UKRAINE UNITED STATES