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Last Tuesday, I watched the former, twice-impeached, disgraced president announce his run for the presidency in 2024. Coming from a gold-plated room at his Mar-a-Lago resort, it is unsurprising that Trump delivered a speech replete with lies. Starting with the assertion that he went “decades” without starting a war (he was president for only four years) to claiming President Biden said, “Welcome to the state of Florida” when he was in Idaho (that never happened), his speech wasn’t just difficult to watch. It was revolting. It was sickening.
Yet, as hard as it was for me and many others who find Trump distasteful, we can’t brush Trump’s absurd rhetoric aside. We can’t laugh at what Trump says and move on as if things were normal. Because, the reality is that Trump very much remains a threat to democracy. His words matter because people listen to him. And, like it or not, Trump could very well be the Republican nominee and win in 2024, if we don’t treat him with the seriousness his campaign deserves.
But there is better news. This isn’t the first time we’ve experienced Trump running for president. He ran in 2016. He ran again in 2020. And because of Trump’s previous presidential runs, all of us from the media to ordinary voters, especially young voters, have an opportune moment to learn from the past and set up the groundwork to keep Trump as far from the Oval Office as possible.
To say Trump had a disappointing Midterm Election is an understatement. The bottom line is that he lost. Badly. In a recent compilation by NBC, 4 Trump-endorsed Senate candidates, 8 Trump-endorsed House candidates, and 7 Trump-endorsed gubernatorial candidates all lost their bids for elected office. What’s more, many of the Trump-backed candidates who lost were election deniers and extreme, far-right Republicans who would’ve deeply hurt democracy.
And although we are still awaiting full vote counts in a few races, it’s clear that Trump and the Republicans had a bad night—especially because of young voters. Put simply, young people like me understood both the threat that Republicans pose to our lives and that Democrats have delivered on the issues we care about.
Indeed, that is why so many Republican voices on social media and Fox News are scrambling to figure out how they can appeal to young voters. Sadly, however, their attempts haven’t been promising. They’ve offered nothing more than raising the age of voting, telling young women they should get married to increase the likelihood of them voting Republican, and saying Gen Z is the “dumbest generation in America” because of our voting record. None of those will appeal to young voters.
But while Trumpism took a blow and Democrats staved off a red wave in the most recent election, we can’t let our guard down. Take, for instance, a recent Gallup study which found that only 40% of Republicans have faith in the electoral process—down from more than 90% in 2006. And even with a poor showing in the midterm election for Republicans, much of which is because of Trump, those like Lindsey Graham still seem to back Trump, no matter what he says or what he does.
That’s all to say, Trump remains a clear and present threat to democracy. And until he is held accountable and indicted for one or more of his many crimes, we all have an important part to play in resisting Trump and Trumpism.
To start, it requires the media and journalists understanding that giving Trump and his associates a platform, whether it be airing a rally or interviewing them, gives them exactly what they want: attention. Even worse, by giving those like Trump who do not believe in the well-being of democracy attention, the media is also responsible for allowing misinformation and lies to flourish. Fortunately, last week MSNBC made a good decision to not air Trump’s presidential campaign announcement. Every outlet should follow MSNBC’s example.
Beyond the media, voters, especially Gen Z which is the most digitally connected generation in America, also have an important platform to resist the forces of Trump and Trumpism. Despite what Republicans want us to believe and feel about our voices not mattering, they very much do. We all have a voice and because of social media, we all have a platform to call attention to the issues that matter to us. For Gen Z, in particular, it means employing the savvy social media skills we have and giving our audience the resources they need and empowering them to take action.
Anyone who tells you that they know what’s going to happen in 2024 is wrong. In politics, nothing is completely certain. President Biden might win re-election. Former President Trump might win a second term. Someone else might win. That is why all of us as voters and the media have to stay diligent. We must take Trump seriously, learn from the past, and act to make sure Trump or someone similar to him never take office. After all, democracy only survives if we all do our part to protect it. And the best part is, we all have the power to do it.