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Without a Healthy Democracy, None of the Other Issues Matter

Originally published by Errin Haines for The 19th

Watching the returns from the Iowa Republican caucus this week, I felt the usual excitement of the start of a presidential campaign, plus a bit of nostalgia. 

Four years ago this month, The 19th launched just days before the Democratic primary in Iowa; then, I was our newsroom’s sole reporter, and our goal was to fundamentally change how we covered gender and American politics. 

Today, the future of our democracy is in doubt as we head into November. Still, our mission remains the same between now and Election Day: to leave behind a more honest, inclusive and accurate record of who and where we are as a country. 

What are the stakes for 2024? What are the dynamics that could drive voters to — or away from — the polls? Much of what we will learn will come not from the candidates, whom we have had months, if not years, to get to know. It will come from the people who participate in and who will be impacted by this election. 

While I don’t make predictions about election results, I do think about what narratives I believe will shape this year. Coming out of Iowa, caucusgoers confirmed a major theme I’ve been thinking about in a month where we mark the anniversary of the January 6, 2021, insurrection; the birthday of civil and voting rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.; and the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. 

It is the perennial declaration of political journalists that the current presidential election is the most consequential so far. That has been true in previous years for different reasons, and it’s true this year because in 2024, we get the democracy we vote for.

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