Challenging the inevitable frontrunners

Patrick McCorkle
3 min readMar 13, 2024

It is as it should not be.

Biden versus Trump for the presidency, round 2! It’s frustrating and disappointing that they are competing for the highest office in the land. Yet, considering the USA’s “first past the post” political system, it was inevitable. There will probably always be only two viable political parties in the land of the free and home of the brave. (Which reminds me of Yoda’s quote about the Sith)

The primary didn’t deliver anything super surprising, but it’s important to recognize those who challenged Biden and Trump. Most, if not all, agree that the USA is experiencing strong political polarization, arguably enough for a social civil war. Friendships, relationships and business partnerships end due to political differences.

As the Founders wisely pointed out in Federalist №10, political parties are insatiable and exclusionary. Once a party has power, they must restrain themselves from abusing it and from harassing their opponents. Even when times are good, parties lean towards intolerance of other parties. When times are bad, they use the opposition as a constant scapegoat and refuse to tolerant internal dissent.

Currently, politicians cannot voice dissent to their fellow Democrats or Republicans. The extremists determine what the party is about. Moderates leave, either joining the opposition or removing themselves from politics. Consider Liz Cheney or Tulsi Gabbard. Parties run by extremists create an uncomfortable dilemma: should you try to reform from within? Or work to weaken the party from the outside?

I salute those who try to reform from within. Few people want political parties, but that’s not reality. In order to effect change, politicians often have to work within institutions because going radical or leaving the system entirely accomplishes less in the long run.

Furthermore, a dissenter sometimes gets treated worse than someone who leaves the party. It’s sort of like the “America, love it or leave it” mentality. The extremists will argue “if our party’s so bad, then leave!” They may have a begrudging respect for someone who acts on their principles. But to complain from within is a sin they cannot abide.

Ask yourself: In an era of political polarization, should we simply hand over the nomination to deeply unpopular candidates? Doesn’t coronating the guys who ran the last time increase polarization?

The Democratic challengers such as Jason Palmer (who somehow won the primary in American Samoa) had no chance of winning, gaining extremely low vote counts. Still, they persisted, trying to broaden discussion and debate about Biden.

The Republicans had a surprising number of challengers to Trump considering his strong poll numbers. A few were disgruntled or disaffected former Trumpers, such as Chris Christie, who truly believe Trump is a danger to their party and their country.

Nikki Haley gave voice to a growing minority of Republicans who don’t want Trump as their party’s presidential nominee. Not only did she win a couple of primaries, but she also stopped short of endorsing him. It would have been far easier for her ambitions to flip and endorse. She did not, which is a small accountability measure to Trump.

Never Trumpers should be represented not only because as Americans, they deserve it by birthright, but also because a majority should not dominate. With Trump’s daughter-in-law becoming the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, it’s more important than ever to stand up to the Trump wing and curb its stranglehold over 1 of the 2 viable political parties in the USA.

Regardless of how unlikely their victory is, individuals like Haley and Palmer who run against the frontrunner due both their party and their country a service, reminding all that elections should not be unofficial coronations and that some will disagree with the majority.

Or maybe I’m crazy. That’s what the extremists say, anyway.



Patrick McCorkle

I am a young professional with keen interests in politics, history, foreign languages and the arts.