Democrats Need to Focus on One Goal: Beating Donald Trump

Donald Trump
July 9, 2024 Topic: Politics Region: Americas Blog Brand: Politics Tags: Donald Trump2024 ElectionU.S. PoliticsJoe BidenDemocrats

Democrats Need to Focus on One Goal: Beating Donald Trump

Whoever the Democrats eventually nominate, those of us who care about our country’s democracy and well-being have one goal: to keep Donald Trump out of office. 


Put aside the drama of the moment in which this presidential race appears to be mired.

Yes, President Biden’s muddled and rote recitation of statistics over message in the debate has clouded his campaign.  If he and his surrogates can talk convincingly of his record as President, only he can now erase doubts of his acuity to serve the country for another term of office.  


But while Biden and senior Democrats sort out who will lead their ticket, those of us in the center who care about our country must keep a clear focus. 

This election is about America’s policies and direction going forward, after all. And it’s our job — not just Biden’s — to ensure that Trump never again is allowed to debase our country’s principles, erode its institutions, and put our security and shared prosperity at risk.

Concern over Biden’s performance is a rightful discussion —- even if it should be balanced by a more careful review of the lies Trump told.  But the hysteria over the debate is obscuring a central reality.

A presidency isn’t about speaking skills, or stamina, or even hours spent behind the desk.  It’s about the ability to craft a vision for the future and to set out policies in line with that vision.  And to forge a leadership team that can put those policies into action.        

Trump’s time in the presidency failed from every one of those perspectives — and not because of the time he spent on the golf course.     

His tweet-driven agenda was personal, spiteful, and haphazard.  The leadership team he built was unfocused and, at best, uneven. Under his direction, the gap between haves and have-nots widened, and fair policies aimed at lifting up minorities were shunted aside.

This record of turn-the-clock-back bad governance was matched by colossal damage Trump did to our institutions — and to their capacity to deliver results. Talented career experts were sidelined or driven to quit.  Offices were left under-staffed. Core missions were replaced by narrow goals aimed at advancing private interests and a conservative ideology. 

At Trump’s State Department, for example, a year-long review of diplomatic functions froze positions and left our diplomacy treading water.  And when the review ended, a single-minded spotlight on religious freedom supplanted our country’s broader, long-standing insistence that countries must ensure and protect the full range of human rights. 

Trump also called into question the value of NATO — for 75 years a fulcrum for America’s safety and American leadership — and suggested that he would take the word of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin over that of his own intelligence agencies. 

And his comments about Ukraine, both at the debate and before, make clear his determination to replace principle with expediency.  His leadership only would bring war closer to the borders of our NATO allies — and by consequence, to our own.    

The contrast between this misguided, shoot-in-the-foot misdirection by Trump and the sensible goals Biden has set for our country is clear. 

Both the Biden Administration and his campaign are built on clear themes.  That our freedoms and rights must be protected.  That our infrastructure must be restored for the future.  That equal treatment under the law is both the bedrock of unity and a critical element of the growth and prosperity all Americans should want our country to achieve.    

Biden and his team also have made clear their recognition that America’s security requires us both to lead and to partner with others.  He has rebuilt a stronger NATO alliance, after four years of insult and derision by the former president.

And Democratic support for Ukraine in defending against Russia, and for durable solutions in the Middle East, is based on clear principles and values that are in America’s interests:  territorial sovereignty, hard-nosed security, respect for human rights, and humanitarian care for the well-being of civilians.  

These policies would continue in a second term in office — under Biden or any of his Democratic colleagues. Even Biden’s garbled debate delivery made this evident.  The contrast with Trump’s mash-up of lies and campaign themes could not be clearer.         

We’ll know soon enough whether Biden remains the Democrats’ standard-bearer for the upcoming election. But regardless of where that decision falls, the stakes for November already are crystal clear — and so are the policy consequences of the upcoming election.

Whoever the Democrats eventually nominate, those of us who care about our country’s democracy and well-being have one goal: to keep Trump out of office.  

Let’s focus.

About the Author: 

Amb. Michael Guest served as ambassador to Romania and was a foreign service officer for 26 years, where he focused on building good governance and democratic institutions in countries emerging from communist rule. He began his career as an assistant press secretary in the Reagan White House.