Joe Biden’s candidacy leaves Democrats with no easy way out

ByJ.T. Young

President Joe Biden’s free pass to renomination may prove costly to Democrats. In hopes of avoiding Biden unraveling on the primary trail, the Democrats may see him fall apart after he has won the nomination. This will leave them with no easy way to remove Biden, no easy way to replace him if he leaves, and little time to do either. The chaos Biden helped Democrats avoid in 2020 may be unleashed with greater fury in 2024.

If presidents want it, they are almost always renominated and usually have a clear path to getting there. The exceptions are memorable: Sen. Ted Kennedy’s challenge of President Jimmy Carter in 1980 comes to mind. Though Carter survived the challenge, he went on to lose in November.

The natural desire to take the easy way and renominate the incumbent overlooks the purpose of primary elections: They force an incumbent president to give an account of his administration to the party faithful. When President Lyndon B. Johnson realized he couldn’t in 1968, for example, he dropped out. 

For Democrats, Biden certainly has things to account for: His position on the Israel-Hamas war, which is unpopular in leftist circles, springs to mind, but his environmental promises and handling of the border crisis must also be addressed.

Primaries also get a president in shape. General elections are always grueling, and 2024’s could be particularly so. Plus, Biden is not in campaign shape: Remember, he largely avoided campaigning in 2020’s general election, has largely avoided the media during his term, and has had several public episodes that only further heightened this concern — notably the recent report by special counsel Robert Hur and his painful press performance following it. 

In their hopes of avoiding a bad scenario during the primary, Democrats may find themselves facing a worst-case one: What if Biden needs to withdraw?

Time is the first factor to consider. In less than three weeks, roughly half the delegates needed for nomination will be awarded; in less than four, more than 60% will be; and in less than three months, the rest will be awarded. Their convention is less than five months away, and the general election is just over eight months away. 

Another is the process. Barring the unforeseeable, all the Democrats’ awarded delegates will be committed to Biden. To those who think “the leaders” can simply pick another candidate, there are two questions: who and how?

In 2020, the Democratic field overflowed. If the establishment were to open up the field again, why would 2024 be significantly different? There’s no reason to believe that those who cleared the field for Biden in the primaries would do so again for a once-in-a-lifetime open shot at the nomination. And this time, the Democratic field would have to be winnowed down by less than 5,000 (roughly 4,000 pledged and 739 automatic) party delegates, a group of activists who could hardly less resemble America’s general electorate, without the benefit of primary outcomes to determine their votes. It would be chaos with no process and little time for resolution by a small group of people who don’t reflect the general electorate.

Nor would there be much leverage to get Biden to exit if he doesn’t want to. Because he was not primaried, there is no evidence that he doesn’t have the party’s support. LBJ was pushed out successfully in part because Sen. Eugene McCarthy demonstrated in 1968 that he had both party recognition and support after his close second-place finish in New Hampshire.

At this point, Biden will be the Democrats’ nominee. The fact is Biden performed two jobs for the Democrats in 2020 that leave the party trapped. The first was beating former President Donald Trump in the general election. He did that by just barely winning six battleground states that determined the electoral vote. But no one else has. And because the primaries this cycle were uncontested, no one else has demonstrated “under fire” that they could win anything. 

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Biden’s second job was preempting the Democrats’ chaos in picking a nominee. Biden did this too — but again, just barely. Left to themselves and their identity-group fixation, the Democrats’ donnybrook over which candidates would be selected and which would be left out would leave bruised feelings and alienated constituencies galore. This would apply even more to a compressed selection process by less than 5,000 activists over four days in August. 

The Democrats chose to reduce the margin for error in their 2024 nomination, but they may find they have put themselves into a no-margin-for-error scenario. Instead of avoiding chaos, Democrats may find they have opened a Pandora’s box worth.

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Comments (1)

  • Biden isn’t running, it’s his handlers that are running for control of America. The Democrat-socialists saw a lot of their gains evaporate during Trumps presidency. They know that if he regains the presidency he will set them back decades. They overplayed their hand in the last three years. The American public has seen what they have done and are not happy. But let’s face facts, Biden is not running. It’s the deep state, the unelected bureaucrats that answer to no one that’s pulling his strings. Biden is just the puppet.

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