We’ve arrived at 2024. Every new year elicits a combination of anticipation and dread, especially in these turbulent times. That’s especially true in presidential election years.
We’re still dealing with the fallout of the tumultuous election of 2020 and the conflicts that followed it.
It looks quite likely that we’ll be seeing a rematch between President Joe Biden and his predecessor in the White House, former President Donald Trump.
The 45th president is facing several criminal and civil trials, including charges related to what happened in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The prospect of an active candidate for president being on trial during the campaign poses yet another test for our nation. His status on the ballot is in question in some states. Meanwhile House Republicans are moving toward impeaching Biden on allegations related to his son Hunter Biden’s business practices involving foreign countries.
Throw in always contentious congressional campaigns and a race for U.S. Senate, and there’s a lot to keep us arguing.
It does feel as if we’re sitting on a powder keg, but it’s not as if Americans have had a break from tension during the years in between presidential elections. In today’s world political rhetoric always seems to be pitched at maximum volume no matter the date. And while it largely goes unspoken these days, the trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on so many aspects of our lives remains a significant factor. It will take a very long time, if ever, for those wounds to heal.
For the next 10 months or so the situation is only going to get more fraught, with people on both sides of the political divide trying to convince the rest of us that the future survival of our republic depends on their candidate winning.
Perhaps we should be used to this by now. American politics has been growing more rancorous with each passing election cycle going back decades. Much of the problem has roots in the cultural upheaval of the 1960s. Anyone who ever watched an episode of the 1970s sitcom “All in the Family” knows that our nation didn’t just discover bitter political discourse. The recent death of that show’s creator, Norman Lear, offered a reminder of just how nasty things could get a half-century ago. And of course sharp divisions have been part of American life from the beginning of our history.
Today we have the added fuel of social media leading people to flock to one side or the other and tune out views that differ from theirs.
Once again we urge readers to keep their cool and encourage those around them to do the same. It’s not going to be easy. There are a lot of strong feelings around these days, and plenty of people eager to capitalize on political passions to suit their own needs. But no one has to give in to this. Certainly people should follow the news. But constant attention to national headlines throughout one’s waking hours is not healthy.
When you do communicate with others regarding politics, particularly those with conflicting views, aim to persuade rather than score points. Of all the challenges in today’s political discourse, one of the worst is the tendency to talk past people rather than have an honest, open conversation.
Remember that it’s impossible to achieve absolute victory, and when the race is over we’re still going to need to live with one another and get things accomplished.
It’s also important to avoid focusing too much on Washington. Remember to keep an eye on what’s going on closer to home, where the national red vs. blue feud isn’t as keenly felt.
Pennsylvania’s leaders have some important issues to explore in the coming year, including ongoing debates over public school funding and the idea of providing government financial support for private education.
We just concluded the state’s first year of divided legislative leadership after a long stretch of full Republican control in the Capitol. It’s been a bit of a rocky ride so far. We urge Gov. Josh Shapiro and the House and Senate leaders of both parties to make the most of the next few months even with the inevitable distraction of a campaign year.
There will be plenty of challenges in the coming year from the national level on down to the local. On this first day of 2024, we call on everyone to do their part to deal with them in a constructive manner. That’s the first step toward making this a truly happy new year.