It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the holiday season is upon us. Streets are adorned with gleaming lights, stores play Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé non-stop and your home is likely glittering with decorations. I don’t know what your holiday tradition(s) may be, but for me, it’s watching almost every Christmas movie before Dec. 25. Each year, a few stand out — I can’t resist Macaulay Culkin beating up Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern in the “Home Alone” movies.
If you haven’t seen “Home Alone,” I won’t spoil it. Go watch it right now. Here’s a brief synopsis: a little boy played by Macaulay Culkin is left alone in his suburban Chicago house when his family goes on vacation and learns that two robbers, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, plan to break in. All hell breaks loose as he tries to protect his home. It’s hilarious, Christmassy and delightful. The entire cast shines. However, this article is not a “Home Alone” review. It’s about politics. Because, these days, what isn’t?
What does a brilliant holiday movie have to do with politics? In this case, there is a clear link between the original film’s sequel, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” which is almost as magnificent as the first, and the nightmare looming larger with the passing of every year — the 2024 presidential election. The connection is that in both “Home Alone 2” and 2024, history repeats itself.
“Home Alone 2” features Kevin McCallister, the protagonist, replicating the same mistakes from the first film. The family forgets about him once again, there is no way to reach him and Kevin’s mom, played by Catherine O’Hara, is worried sick for most of the movie. Except this time, Kevin ends up in New York somehow, living like a king while staying at The Plaza Hotel. The two robbers, Harry and Marv, are back too, aiming to steal the Christmas Eve earnings of a famed toy store. McCallister learns of their plan and aims to stop them anew. The 2024 election will, similarly, be a repetition of 2020’s election, except the plot will be much, much worse.
No one wants to redo 2020. Literally no one. Democrats want to win the election without having to respond to claims of fraud, moderate Republicans don’t want to deal with those claims either and the Trump wing of the Republican Party wants to actually emerge victorious this time. Nevertheless, the most likely scenario is that we will see a facsimile of 2020, or something more horrible. It is unlikely that either candidate will win with a significant majority of the popular or electoral college vote. Republicans just showed they have an impressive hand heading into 2022. Glenn Youngkin defeated Terry McAuliffe in the race for the governor’s mansion in Virginia. Jack Ciattarelli outperformed nearly everyone’s expectations in New Jersey, narrowly losing against Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who won a second term. Other, less nationally recognized elections illustrated the GOP’s current electoral strength. If the circumstances don’t change — for example, if President Biden doesn’t manage to stop the country’s inflationary trends — next year could be a bloodbath for Democrats. And even if Biden does, Republicans are still poised to win back the House and Senate, just by a smaller margin.
But 2022 is not 2024. Trump will not just make a short appearance as he does in “Home Alone 2” — he is a fantastic tool to make Republicans go out and vote for the candidates he endorses (except in Georgia), yet Democrats get energized when he’s the one on the ballot. And there is no doubt in my mind that he will run again and will become the nominee. 2024, regardless of where the country is politically — with Biden at a 30% or 60% approval rating, we don’t know — will be a close race. Closer than 2020.
With that in mind, think of this: the “Home Alone 2” scenario in three years is Trump declaring that he won, even though Biden has been reelected by the skin of his teeth. Trump supporters blare out statements about election fraud. Republican legislative majorities in battleground states seek to overturn the results. This time, no one’s there to protect democracy. Democrats are entrenched. Republicans are entrenched. It’s a stretch to say that “Civil War” could begin, but violence would ensue. So how can this be avoided?
For the time being, Biden needs to get moving. He has to become an LBJ-type figure who controls the Senate, and he needs to do so now. Implement the infrastructure bill. Continue working with moderates like Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine; they’re the answer. Extol the bill’s bipartisan merits until November 2024. Curb inflation by hiking interest rates — a necessary evil — while publicizing the sinking unemployment levels. Support the police by following the Eric Adams model. Doing so means focusing on taming crime, which can be done by expanding the police force and training them adequately. Stop talking about taxing corporations and the rich. It may not be socialism, but it certainly sounds like it — and politics is all about communication and marketing. Instead, talk about tax cuts for the middle and lower classes. Laud the progress this administration has made on vaccines. Communicate openly about issues regarding immigrants and the southern border and don’t let situations like the whipping of a Haitian migrant occur. Finally, avoid blunders like the France-Australia debacle.
In the long run — stop weakening democracy. That goes for both parties. Let’s not forget that Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018, never conceded when she lost against Brian Kemp. Did she have valid reasons to speak out on election fraud? Maybe. Still, she should have conceded. Imagine how different the narrative would be — how different Jan. 6 would have been — if Trump had said that he believed some “sketchy” stuff happened (it didn’t), yet conceded anyway. Democracy wouldn’t have suffered as much. Neither happened, because neither party is currently willing to accept that they lost. Democrats spent four years throwing impeachments at the wall — even if only two formally reached the House — attempting to make one stick. It’s hypocritical for Democrats to assert that they’re the only party defending democracy when they’re also assaulting its processes. Trump was an awful president; he was not illegitimate.
So let’s learn from “Home Alone 2.” Let’s not echo the errors made so far and replicate the 2020 incubus. We don’t need to be Kevin McCallister in New York. 2024 does not need to be a 2020 redux. And if you’re thinking that it’s too soon to be talking about this, as Christmas begins, it’s not. A year has already gone by; the situation hasn’t changed. Talk to your family this holiday season — especially those you never agree with — and find common ground. If you can, maybe the country can too.
Miguel Calle is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at email@example.com.