Credit: Damon Winter / The New York Times

Until a few days ago, I was feeling fairly sanguine about America’s prospects. Economically, we’ve had a year of strong growth and plunging inflation — and aside from committed Republicans, who see no good, hear no good and speak no good when a Democrat is president, Americans appear to be recognizing this progress. It has seemed increasingly likely that the nation’s good sense would prevail and democracy would survive.

But watching the frenzy over President Biden’s age, I am, for the first time, profoundly concerned about the nation’s future. It now seems entirely possible that within the next year, American democracy could be irretrievably altered.

And the final blow won’t be the rise of political extremism — that rise certainly created the preconditions for disaster, but it has been part of the landscape for some time now. No, what may turn this menace into catastrophe is the way the hand-wringing over Biden’s age has overshadowed the real stakes in the 2024 election. It reminds me, as it reminds […]

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