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DONALD TRUMP
Columns
Opinion articles written in the style of their author. These texts are to be based on verified facts and must be respectful towards people, even though their actions may be criticized. All opinion articles written by individuals from outside the staff of EL PAÍS shall feature, along with the author’s name (regardless of their greater or lesser renown), a footer stating their office, academic title, political affiliation (if any) and main occupation, or the occupation related to the topic being assessed

The battle of old men

Biden is already the oldest sitting president in history, and Trump was the oldest to achieve the presidency. Whoever wins in November will be setting new age records again

Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Donald Trump and Joe Biden.Getty
Lluís Bassets

There were no surprises. Donald Trump won handily. It wasn’t a huge victory like in Iowa, where he crushed Ron DeSantis, the candidate who could really have overshadowed him. Nikki Haley believes she has come out of her second loss alive. This much seems confirmed by the former president’s angry reaction, which was not that of a euphoric winner. This is due to his being a sore winner, much like his proverbial penchant to be a sore loser, demonstrated when he left the White House in a huff. He only feels comfortable when he destroys his opponent. Hence his furious reaction to the willful persistence of Haley, whom he wanted to unseat in New Hampshire.

The traditional republicanism that she represents refuses to die. She is keeping up her weak bet because she does not want to hand over the remains of the shipwreck without a fight. That is why Haley pointed out that the primaries are not a coronation but an election. Her resistance lends legitimacy to whoever becomes the candidate, even Trump, and keeps alive a conservative alternative to Trumpism. She is also something of a spare wheel, in case judicial troubles interrupt the triumphant march of her Republican rival after these proved so useful for Trump to portray himself as a victim and raise campaign funds. The old party, including top elected officials and the apparatus, is entirely owned by Trump.

Since the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, there is a growing proportion of Republican voters who are convinced that the election was stolen and that Trump is suffering unfair political persecution in the courts with the sole objective of preventing his return to the White House. For the immense mass of those who believe these crude populist fabrications, to vote for him is to defend democracy, exactly the opposite of what is held by Joe Biden, the Democratic Party and liberal opinionmakers around the world. Unlike Trump, Biden already considers Haley to be ruled out. The president prefers the fierce rival who can mobilize his own people to the educated former governor of South Carolina and former ambassador to the United Nations. Barring an unforeseen accident, which is always possible with nine months still left to go, the White House will have an octogenarian in office within two years. Biden is already the oldest sitting president in history, but Trump was also the oldest to achieve the presidency. Whoever wins in November will be setting new records again.

Everything lies in darkness when it comes to the future of democracy in the United States, and in the world, if Trumpism is installed in power for four more years, extendable to another four. There is only one thing that is already clear. The fight that is underway between these two elderly men, each with their own senior moments — verbal in Biden’s case and mental in Trump’s — does not make for a comforting image of the gerontocratic drift of the superpower, in the style of the Russian and Chinese autocracies.

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