“Spring is Coming!”: Groundhog Day in the Groundhog Year of American Politics international

First, the news: Groundhog Phil left his torment shortly after dawn this Friday and did not see his shadow, so, according to good tradition without scientific basis and at least in this part of the world, spring will come early this year .

Every February 2, like Candlemas Day, about 10,000 people gather in Punxsutawney (pronounced ponxotauni) For America’s most famous weather forecasters. It dates back to 1887 and helps this lost Pennsylvania town claim the title of “Meteorological Capital of the World.” Bundled up from head to toe to spend a night at zero degrees in the middle of the jungle, curious people from all corners of the country and a few other corners of the world waited for hours for a man wearing a frock coat and a cap to wake up. 7.22 For the animal with the scared face. In his favor, another man read the verdict of “the prophet of all prophets.” He announced, “Spring is coming!” And the audience jumped with joy.

Groundhog Day has always been big in Punxsutawney, but this year it broke attendance records. Since its premiere in 1993, the three friendly women who run the local meteorological museum reported Thursday that visitor numbers have been steadily increasing. Caught in time, A masterpiece of existential comedy. In it, Bill Murray, playing an embarrassed meteorologist, is forced to relive the same frustrating day over and over again, in which he has to cover up a work infiltration by a sciuromorphic rodent. Although almost the entire film was shot 850 kilometers to the west, in Woodstock (Illinois), it is the great tourist attraction of Punxsutawney and managed to sneak the name of the party into the popular language, as an expression, even in Spanish. . annoying Deja vu. In English, groundhog day is, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “a condition in which identical negative or monotonous experiences occur repeatedly without any change.”

So, in this leap year, Groundhog Day took on another interest, as it was celebrated at the beginning of the Groundhog Year of American politics, a year marked by the more than likely recurrence of the election duel between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. I went.

A combination of recent images of Joe Biden (left) and Donald Trump.
A combination of recent images of Joe Biden (left) and Donald Trump. AP

Polls confirm that when the song was played for the fifteenth time, a large portion of the American electorate was in the same mood as Murray. I got You Babe, by Sonny and Cher, who wake him up every morning (the same morning) at 6:00 (in another demonstration that cinema rarely imitates life: if you want to find a nice place in the woods, you have to go to Phil’s Will have to wait from 3.00). According to the latest poll published by Reuters/Ipsos in late January, 67% of those surveyed confirmed their boredom with “seeing the same candidates in presidential elections”, as well as expressing a desire to include “someone new”. of. Ballot…

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That was the opinion of 55-year-old retired teacher Bill on a cold night in Punxsutawney. “This country is caught in a time trap,” he said, before admitting that he sees “no other option” other than Biden. “At least I know what to expect from him. Trump scares me.” Jack, a 20-year-old student from New York, regrets becoming a first-time voter “in such an uninspiring election.” “For young people, they don’t give us options; Our system is designed for this,” he said. And if Mark, an “indecisive” 54-year-old from the outskirts of Chicago, voted for Trump in 2016 and for Biden four years later, he would like other options (“I understand that no one wants the job of president”). , in which half the country hates your guts”), Mitchell sees an opportunity to at least “throw that guy out of the White House.” “We lived peacefully for four years with Trump, and now look at us. “

longest campaign

To the lack of enthusiasm for a Biden-Trump second round, we must also add the additional dullness of confrontation with few examples in American politics (it has been more than a century since the two tenants of the White House have seen each other again. ), promises to be the longest election campaign in living memory. The primary process, which began with Trump’s landslide victory over his rivals for the Republican nomination in Iowa in mid-January, continued with another defeat in New Hampshire, this time to eventual rival Nikki Haley, who, it all seemed possible. But it is also very unlikely that it may still come back. If the primaries are resolved early, there will still be five months until the Republican convention; Half a year for rivals.

The Democratic side’s next stop is in South Carolina this weekend, where another victory is considered certain for Biden, who has already defeated a little-known candidate, Dean Phillips, in New Hampshire, despite the fact that President His name was also not listed. On ballot papers. On Saturday, according to poll aggregator Five Thirty Eight, he would be leading with 68% of the votes (compared to 5% for his rival).

The argument of Phillips, a congressman and successful businessman from Minneapolis, is that Biden has been a good president, but the worst possible candidate, above all, because of his advancing age: He will be 82 when he conducts his reelection. Rent in the White House and 86 when his term ends. This is a widespread view in most left-wing Democratic circles, adding to others, such as fears that his support for the war in Gaza will reduce his support among Muslims and youth, and dissatisfaction among black voters. In the party, no one knew how to oppose him despite his physical and image weakness (he has an approval rating of only 39%) and they waited lazily until it was too late to present an alternative, while He entertained himself with baseless talk. Principle. As a step up from Michelle Obama.

Laziness was also a major sin, pointed out by neoconservative analyst Robert Kagan in a long essay published in Washington Post Which sparked debate in the capital in December. this was the title Trump’s dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. we should stop pretending and pointed out that the opportunity to open a front against him had disappeared, trusting that justice would take its course: the magnate faces 91 crimes in four separate trials, and a little-used provision based on But legal action is underway to disqualify him on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment, on which the Supreme Court will decide soon.

“So barring a Trump or Biden health crisis, revenge is inevitable,” says Georgetown University professor Michael Kazin, whose latest book is a history of the Democratic Party. “Haley is staying in the race in the hope that one of those court cases will turn her party’s voters against Trump, or perhaps because she wants to lay the groundwork for 2028.” Cousin also believes that “it is too late for the Democrats to change candidates unless Biden can remain in office for some reason. The deadline to apply for many primaries has passed, and it takes time to raise money, hire staff, garner support… and at this point, a serious challenge will divide the party’s chances of victory in November. Will weaken. It might have been a good idea for Biden to say about a year ago that he would not run. but not anymore”.

Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro at a Groundhog Day party in Punxsutawney this Friday.
Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro at a Groundhog Day party in Punxsutawney this Friday. Alan Freed (Reuters)

A rising Democratic star, one of those who could step in, joined the early-morning Groundhog Day celebration: Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro. He handily defeated radical Trumpist Doug Mastriano in 2022. Because of the number of delegates it contributes, Democrats are clinging to it in a necessary situation. This is needed if Biden is to remain in office, he took it in the 2020 elections, but the latest polls give it to Trump next November.

However, nine months before the election is scheduled, demographic gurus also advise taking the poll with caution, in the same way that statistics advise doing with groundhog predictions: it is right four times out of 10. By the way, in 2020 – the year in which the Super Bowl had the same opponents: the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers – Phil also predicted that spring would come early.

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