The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

Americans often bemoan their choices on election day and 2024 will be no different.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are once again slated to run against one another for the presidency in 2024.

Trump’s flair for dramatics hasn’t diminished since he lost his race for re-election in 2020. “In order to make America great and glorious again, I tonight am announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” the twice-impeached former president told a crowd of his supporters at his country club in Florida.

In comparison, Biden’s campaign will follow the same theme during the last election. “When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are,” Biden told his supporters in a video message. “That’s why I’m running for reelection.”

For many Americans, they inevitably find the prospect of having to vote for either Biden or Trump a truly depressing endeavor. The best analogy would be Greek Mythology. The idiom “between Scylla and Charybdis” means having to choose between two dangerous situations. Scylla and Charybdis were both sea monsters that dwelled in the oceans.

It isn’t necessarily ageist to suggest that elderly politicians threaten the U.S. system’s ability to perform. Donald Trump and Joe Biden were both the oldest presidents in American history. If Biden wins re-election, he will be 86 by the time he completes his second term.

As for Donald Trump, he is facing a slew of legal headaches for various alleged misdeeds committed while in office and as a private citizen. However, his legal troubles do not appear to have diminished his intention to return to the White House.

What good did Trump and now Biden do for the American people? Almost certainly, depending on where you fall with foreign policy, the most consequential decision of the Biden presidency was to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Additionally, Biden’s decision to go all in with helping Ukraine repel Russia’s invasion will have ramifications for years down the road.

If you oppose women’s reproductive rights and you’re extremely wealthy, you more than likely view the Trump years as a resounding success. Trump nominated and confirmed more conservative federal judges, including three to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Republicans in Congress passed legislation that disproportionately favored the super-wealthy.

Vladimir Putin’s unbiased assessment offers some insight. Putin serves as almost the main measure of professional aptitude for the leaders of both leading American political parties fighting for the White House. For this reason, his opinion matters.

On several occasions, Trump has called Putin very smart, a genius, and a master tactician, and Biden is simply incapable of playing at such a level. Biden, for his part, has admonished Trump for his desire to believe Putin over the U.S. intelligence community and an almost hero worship for the Russian strongman.

Frankly, I searched through many Russian-language sources to find a specific Putin opinion about Trump or Biden, but I did not find one. The only thing that is reliably known is that Putin has a very transactional approach to working with other world leaders. If something can be gained from talks, he will do so.

But let’s go back to where we started, to Greek Mythology. The story of Scylla and Charybdis is often applied to political situations. Today, American voters are facing an obvious challenge, often referred to as “the lesser of two evils.” And come November 2024, American voters will have two choices that are exactly the same choices as in 2020.

Of course, it should be said that a lot can change between now and 2024. Biden could opt out of running again despite declaring his candidacy. Trump could very well have been tried and found guilty of any number of crimes he is being investigated for. So come November 2024, it could be Ron DeSantis v. Kamala Harris or Nikki Haley v. Pete Buttigieg. But as it stands, Trump and Biden appear headed towards a rematch.

The world does not consist only of black and white. Caught “between a rock and a hard place,” in the very center of the political game, we, the American people have the right to refuse to take sides and, against all odds, decide to seek our path, and our destiny. We can become a Third Force that can both save the world or plunge it into the abyss of chaos.

Vladimir Shelkov is an international journalist who primarily lives and works in Western Siberia and in the Mountain West of the United States of America.