What’s the antidote to two old geezers refusing to step aside for fresh energy and ideas in the Oval Office? The two political parties are supposed to forward candidates for the U.S. presidency that elicit enthusiasm and respect for how they would lead the country. That is perhaps their number one responsibility. Both parties are failing mightily on that score. Former President Trump, a flawed human being with many characteristics that should turn off voters, is a downright depressing prospect for more than half the U.S. voters. He is 77, sorely out of shape, and would 83 by the end of a second term. On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic Party is stumbling forward with incumbent President Joe Biden, a man who cannot give up the spotlight. He is 81 and would be 87 at the end of a second term.
From the perspective of a business person who has served on more than 50 boards, both men would be long gone from the upper levels of a business C-Suite. A board of directors has an overriding responsibly for a succession plan that brings vigor, intimate knowledge for how the world is changing through technology and demographics, and mental acuity at the highest level. No duty is more important for the benefit of the stockholders. Old men do not get the benefit of the doubt when trying to cling to power. On a personal note, I stepped down as CEO of my company when I turned 70, even though I thought I was still mentally pretty sharp and physically able enough to keep doing the job. It was time for new blood. We live in a rapidly changing world, and businesses have to stay ahead of the curve if they are to survive and thrive. Fresh thinking at the top of a company is not only desirable, it is essential. Any management expert will testify to that necessity.
There are additional reasons for stepping aside in the political world. The good of the country can often become a lower priority than the thirst for power. One the main rationales for a second term for Biden is that he has demonstrated he can defeat Trump. Would he step aside for the good of the country if Trump were forced to withdraw because of convictions, poor health, or loss of support in the Republican Party? It is a reality in today’s hyper-partisan politics that Trump commands the center stage. But the Republican Party needs a fresh start now that he has established himself as a three- time loser in 2020 to Biden and in two off-year elections where his endorsed candidates fared poorly and cost the GOP control of the U.S. Senate. Quite simply, Trump should not be on the ballot. He has shown an utter disrespect for the country’s electoral processes and would surely undermine the outcome again if he loses in 2024. His would be a fake candidacy if he ran with no intention of honoring the results – unless he won.
In a similar vein, Section 3 of Article 14 of the U.S. constitution says no one should be on the ballot for an office in the country against which he has engendered insurrection or rebellion. That could be grounds for disqualification, Republican governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchison said recently. According to news reports, the Secretaries of State in all 50 states, including Wisconsin, want no part of such a constitutional disqualification. The MAGA supporters would raise holy hell. Those state officials want to have any such constitutional battle decided in the courts, presumably ending in the U.S. Supreme Court.
It would be far better for Trump to be removed by the nation’s voters. He lost the popular vote by 7 million in 2020. He won the electoral college vote in 2016, but lost the popular vote by almost 2.9 million to Hillary Clinton. My guess is that he would lose by an even larger margin in 2024 on the heels of several convictions out of the four charges he’s currently facing.
If you were a king or queen-maker in either the Republican Party or Democratic Party, would you not want a candidate squeaky clean of Trump’s defects? Would you not want a fresh look for your party? There are a good number of qualified candidates who could fill that responsibility in both parties. Would not a woman fare well in a Republican primary? Or as a Democrat against him in the general election in 2024? The female suburban vote swung against Trump in 2020 and will be even more pronounced if he runs in 2024. He is about to lose his second defamation case brought by a woman he raped.
Two women jump to mind, one from each party. Each would be a breath of fresh air for
the country: Nikki Haley, former Republican governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations, and Gina Raimondo, former governor of Rhode Island and currently U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Both have sterling chops in domestic and foreign policy. They, of course, are not the only candidates who could heal the divisions in the country. But I raise their profiles to make the point that this country does not lack for proven, upstanding alternatives for the Oval Office.