The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Editorial Board | The rematch no one wants

Young voters find themselves disappointed that we are once again seeing two of the oldest presidential candidates ever face off for the second time.
Grace Smith
(Left) President Joe Biden speaks during his visit at the POET Bioprocessing ethanol plant in Menlo, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Right) Former President Donald Trump speaks during his caucus night watch party at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. Republican voters assembled statewide to participate in the caucuses despite the cold and extreme winter weather across the state. Trump’s early victory and dominant position before the start of caucus night proved to be true as 51 percent of Republicans voted for Trump’s appearance in the 2024 presidential election as of 10:20 p.m. At the event, Trump spoke to over 300 supporters at his watch party about his goals and putting America first.

As America gears up to watch Donald Trump and Joe Biden go head to head once more in November, many voters are left wondering: How did we end up with the same two choices again?

There is a lot to dissect when determining why people dislike either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. For many, the same reasons apply to both candidates. In their respective presidential terms, the two were both remarkably unpopular. How is it that after seven consecutive years with an unfavorable president in office, we end up with the same terrible choices again?

The answer is that our two-party system, combined with currently heightened global tensions and the prevalence of political extremity, have cornered voters into choosing who they think will do less damage instead of who they really want. The political party leaders know this and take advantage of it to push who they think will benefit them, feeling no obligation to the American people.

There is, however, one concern with both of them, which is generally seen in much of the federal government: They are both old as rocks.

Joe Biden is the oldest U.S. President in history, as he is currently 81 years old. Not that far behind in age, if Donald Trump were to win this November, he’d become the second-oldest U.S. President ever at 77 years old. To put it in perspective, Biden was born before the end of World War II. He was 26 years old when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Donald Trump graduated college during the Vietnam War.

Comparatively, the median age of current national leaders across the globe is 62 years old, according to the Pew Research Center.

One of the more ridiculed aspects of the candidates’ ages is their seemingly declining cognitive functions. From saying nonsense sentences to awkward social behavior, both candidates are certainly showing their ages. Whether or not their cognitive functions are legitimate medical issues, voters are concerned, and this has the power to affect election results.

Voters are also wondering how representative someone in that age group can be of the larger population. Only 17 percentof Americans are over the age of 65 years. The difference in values and priorities between generations is clear, and the social and economic reality that many older people grew up in is not what we see today. This gap has the potential to threaten real legislative progress, especially as the world continues to change whether the U.S. is caught up or not.

Generation Z has developed a reputation as a progressive, passionate generation. In the age of social media, political movements have become more accessible than ever. In the wake of countless school shootings, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the handling of global affairs like the Israel-Hamas war, Gen Z’s passion has become more apparent than ever.

Many of those young people are dissuaded by both Biden’s traditional neoliberal policies and Trump’s brash personality and far-right policies.

As a Republican, Trump was probably always going to be at a disadvantage with young people. That said, it’s easy to understand that Biden is not a favorable candidate, and why Trump lingers so close to him in the polls.

Biden’s support of Israel in the Israel-Hamas war, which started just over a year before election day, will come back to bite him. This is just one example of Biden’s disconnect with younger voters.

Four years ago, Biden’s presidency was viewed as the only alternative to another disastrous Trump term in the eyes of many young voters. After the Obama presidency, the Trump presidency was defined by breaking away from the traditional means and ways of American politics. Biden was advertised as a return to the relatively calm times of the Obama Administration. The baseline argument was that Biden may not be great, but Trump would be much worse.

Now, over three years into a Biden presidency, his failures among a growing population of progressives pose a huge threat to his success in November.

While the battle this November is unfortunately all but set in stone, both parties would be wise to prioritize pushing more progressive candidates in all elections going forward. There are other candidates for third parties, but unfortunately, third parties are all but futile in the United States today.

Young voters must take it upon themselves to rethink and reshape the electoral process. Our current process has given us only two aging, unpopular candidates. We must look into and give more power to younger candidates, and also find ways to give more power to third parties so we don’t corner ourselves into a situation like this again.

The hard truth is that there are no current alternatives to Trump or Biden. No other candidate polls remotely close. As much as we would like to believe any alternative has a real shot, they just don’t — plain and simple.

The fact that we only really have two options is a testament to the weakness of our political system as it stands. The fact that we must choose to vote for one person simply because they are not another person is embarrassing and anti-democratic.

As young voters, we must seek out ways to pull other parties, ideologies, and candidates into the mix, especially for the future. The more parties there are, the less power and control each party has over their voter base. When we have options that reflect a wide portion of Americans instead of just two repetitive parties, we can vote for people because we support them, and not because we simply dislike one option more than another.

At its core, democracy is the idea that a country’s people should be able to choose the representatives who most closely align with their beliefs and values. When you have only two unpopular candidates on the ballot with any chance of winning, it’s clear that our democracy is growing farther and farther from its original definition.

Something needs to fundamentally change, for the sake of our future.

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About the Contributor
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.