Don’t Think of It as a Contest Between Biden and Trump

It’s official — we have a rematch.

This week, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump officially secured the delegates needed to win renomination in their respective primaries. This will be the first contest since the 1892 race between Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland where a former challenger, now incumbent, faces off against a former incumbent, now challenger, for a second term in the White House. Cleveland won his challenge, but this does not tell us anything about our situation.

Truth be told, there is a pervasive sense floating around this election that there is nothing new to discuss — that there’s nothing new to learn about Biden and certainly nothing new to learn about Trump.

But while it’s fair to say that we already know quite a bit about the two men — their strengths and weaknesses, their perspectives and views, the character of their administrations and their records while in office — there is still a great deal to say about what they intend to do with another four years in the White House.

Both Trump and Biden have far-reaching plans for the country, either one of which would transform the United States. Of course, one of those transformations would be for the worst, the other for the better.

Let’s start with the worst. We already know that Donald Trump’s main targets for his second term are American democracy and the American constitutional order. For Trump, the basics of American governance — separation of powers, an independent civil service and the popular selection of elected officials — are a direct obstacle to his desire to protect himself, enrich himself and extend his personalized rule as far over the country as possible.

My colleague Carlos Lozada has already taken a deep dive into Project 2025, the conservative Heritage Foundation’s blueprint for a second Trump term. The overall thrust of the “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise” is an authoritarian remodeling of the executive branch, designed around Trump. “It calls for a relentless politicizing of the federal government, with presidential appointees overpowering career officials at every turn and agencies and offices abolished on overtly ideological grounds,” writes Lozada, who also notes that the Heritage vision “portrays the president as the personal embodiment of popular will and treats the law as an impediment to conservative governance.”

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