“Between and Rock and a Hard Place”



Candidates running for office face a major challenge, trying to appeal to and appease their base while not alienating swing voters … who ultimately dictate most election outcomes.

President Biden’s campaign continues to struggle with a perception chasm between the actual state of the economy and how a majority of voters are laser-focused on how inflation, interest rates and housing costs affect them personally.  Yet, a potentially larger problem is driven by forces beyond his control; specifically, the Israeli/Hamas conflict in Gaza and war in Ukraine.

Although his career has been one of unwavering support for Israel and his strong and immediate condemnation of Hamas’ deadly October 7th attack and kidnappings, Biden has become increasing concerned for the mounting humanitarian crisis facing a million-plus Palestinians who lack even minimal food and water resources and the absence of proper, and often life-saving, medical care.

Voters primarily concerned with the Palestinian people condemn Biden for continuing to provide lethal arms to the Israeli IDF while the pro-Israeli lobby similarly denounces him for his open criticisms of Netanyahu and calls for a cease fire.

Meanwhile, Trump’s autocratic, virulent, and sometimes racist, rhetoric raises concerns among even life-long GOP voters.  But his biggest election hurdle may be his stance on abortion.  Once a diehard Pro-Choice advocate, when he decided to enter politics as a Republican, he miraculously morphed into an anti-abortion crusader.  He brags about being singularly responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade by nominating three conservative, Pro-Life justices for the Supreme Court.

Since that decision, abortion has been an albatross around his party’s neck, exacerbated by twenty-five states enacting or enshrining draconian anti-abortion laws, most recently evidenced by Alabama’s Supreme Court conferring personhood on a fertilized egg and Arizona’s Court validating an 1864 law outlawing all abortions other than to save the life of the mother.

Anti-abortion platforms have cost socially-conservative Republican candidates many elections across the country since then, as the vast majority of Americans, including a large percentage of Republicans, believe the choice to have abortion should be left to the woman, in consultation with her medical professionals and spiritual advisors, not politicians or religious ideologues.

Trying to thread a political middle ground, Trump declared, “the states will determine by vote or legislation, or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land,” … before realizing what he’d actually said and adding, “In this case, the law of the state,” and it seems like “people are agreeing on a 15 week” limit; incurring the wrath of his former vice president and hard anti-abortion coalitions while simultaneously generating criticisms and concerns from moderate Republicans who fear, if elected he would not hesitate to sign a national ban on the practice.

If history can be a judge, the president’s position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has evolved as has the circumstances on the ground, concurrently accepting the political fallout and consequences they could cause for him.

Trump is attempting to placate as many people as possible across the abortion spectrum to minimize any impact on the November election; not unlike his motives for browbeating Congressional Republicans to kill the bipartisan Senate-negotiated border and Ukrainian security bill in February.

The conundrum candidates face: personal convictions or self-serving positions?