Five reasons to dread the 2024 presidential election

Last month The Hill reported, “Seven issues that will define the 2024 election” — Social Security and Medicare; education; abortion; foreign policy; immigration; LGBTQ-related concerns; and crime. Although fiscally critical, divisive and emotional, these hot-button issues – combined with the traditional quadrennial question about how voters perceive their economic situation – could be overshadowed by five potentially explosive circumstances unique to 2024.

Here is why Americans should dread or even fear next year’s presidential election.

1. Proliferation of fake content 

Everyone is familiar with “fake news,” immortalized by former President Trump and applied to any media critical of him. But more consequential is realistic-looking fake content, called “deepfakes,” quickly produced through technological advancements.

Across all communication platforms, deepfakes are maliciously intended to deceive, confuse, create chaos, unduly influence, sway public opinion and propagandize. They also sometimes provide comedic entertainment.

Comedy aside, the 2024 presidential race will be the first election widely subjected to this sinister, hostile, challenging and uncontrollable message environment. As a result, campaigns and candidates are exceptionally vulnerable to domestic and foreign players intending to harm or boost candidates and or attempt to subvert or destabilize the democratic process. The potential for mayhem is limitless.

For example, during the recent banking crisis, the Associated Press reported, “Fake audio falsely claims to reveal private Biden comments.” Supposedly, in the background, Biden was heard saying, “All the money is gone” and “a collapse is imminent.” Then social media began sharing Biden’s concerns with their economically debilitating consequences. Fortunately, in this case, the fake was quickly exposed.

But in the heat of a fast-paced campaign, will voters be able to distinguish between real or fake ads and private comments that could cause irreparable damage?  

Are news organizations and campaigns prepared to promptly detect fake from real? Watch as campaigns, social media and news outlets fight an uphill battle against a barrage of fakes, with many bound to slip through. Indeed, millions of dollars are needed for sophisticated high-tech fact-checking and investigative know-how to address the fakery challenge presented by the 2024 election.

Remember the old saying, “A lie travels halfway around the globe before the truth puts on its pants.” The new version asks, “Deep fake or real, who can tell the difference?”

2. Hangover from 2020

Our nation’s friends and enemies will watch closely whether the world’s “longest-standing democracy” can peacefully elect and inaugurate its next president without aggrieved citizens violently attacking the building symbolizing freedom and liberty.

The problem is 28 percent of adults still believe the 2020 election was stolen. As always, the burden of conducting a free and fair national election falls on local and state authorities and voters’ trust that the system will flawlessly…

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