The Democratic Party survived a shellacking this midterm season, as voters apparently felt it wasn’t worth gambling on the GOP’s slate of candidates and the possibility of mayhem engulfing Capitol Hill. Democrats might be incompetent and committed to a legislative agenda that doesn’t comport with the needs of 70 percent of the electorate, but there will be stable gridlock as the Republicans barely managed to retake the House. Now, we look to the 2024 election, and believe it or not—it’s not looking good for either party.
The Republican Party will have an internal debate about whether Trump is more of an anchor or a buoy to the party’s electoral chances while simultaneously dealing with the former president’s 2024 candidacy. If Ron DeSantis decides to toss his hat into the ring, things could get even more interesting, albeit with a greater chance of messy internal party drama. Also, we have yet another election cycle where it does appear that enough voters, more moderate ones, have hopped off the Trump train, even if the economy is falling apart. Again, the emphasis is on steadiness over chaos.
Yet, the Democratic Party is also facing woes of its own as its party leader, increasingly frail and mentally defective, probably won’t be able to handle the daily grind of a national campaign post-pandemic. It wasn’t a secret that a healthy number of Democratic National Committee members probably had statements at the ready calling for Biden not to run in 2024 should there have been a Republican trouncing at the polls. Now, it’s the return of the ‘he’s too old and dementia-ridden to run again’ narrative. George Will was especially brutal to Kamala Harris in his November 2 column for The Washington Post, where he said Biden-Harris should vacate the White House in January 2025. In other words, drop out, please:
During this autumn’s avalanche of political news, an enormous boulder bounced by, barely noticed. It demonstrated why Joe Biden should not seek another term. Democrats should promptly face that fact, and this one: An Everest of evidence shows that Vice President Harris is starkly unqualified to be considered as his successor.
The boulder: Meeting recently with some progressive activists, Biden said his $426 billion student loan forgiveness was accomplished by “a law” that he had “just signed”: “I got it passed by a vote or two.” No. He. Did. Not.
Biden was not merely again embellishing his achievements. This is not just another of his verbal fender benders. There is no less-than-dismaying explanation for his complete confusion. What vote? Who voted?
After repeated unilateral extensions of the moratorium on loan repayments until election season, Biden unilaterally implemented the windfall for millions of voters. Congress was not involved in this cataract of money from the Treasury, in violation of the Constitution’s appropriations clause.
It is frightening that Biden does not know, or remember, what he recently did regarding an immensely important policy. He must be presumed susceptible to future episodes of similar bewilderment. He should leave the public stage on Jan. 20, 2025.
So should his vice president. Thomas R. Marshall, Woodrow Wilson’s vice president, joked, “Once there were two brothers. One ran away to sea; the other was elected vice president of the United States. And nothing was heard of either of them again.” Kamala Harris has been heard from, sufficiently.
Transcripts of her verbal meanderings cannot convey their eerie strangeness.
She sounds, as a critic has said, like someone giving a book report on a book she has not read. Her style betrays a self-satisfied exaggeration of her aptitudes. Lacking natural talent, she needs to prepare, but evidently doesn’t. Complacency and arrogance make a ruinous compound.
Regarding Biden and Harris, the national Democratic Party faces two tests of stewardship: Its imprimatur cannot again be bestowed on either of them. Biden is not just past his prime; even adequacy is in his past. And this is Harris’s prime.
Over at RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard hit on all the points about Biden, his health and the 2024 election, while adding that the growing chance of an emergency arising due to the elderly Biden could be more detrimental to the Democratic Party. They would be seen as genuinely placing party over country by subjecting a mentally degraded man to continue to serve in an office for which he is incapable of executing his many duties:
At 80, Biden is already America’s oldest president. The office has visibly aged him. He and Democrats aren’t talking about him launching a campaign for an election to serve two more years, but to serve another six years. Biden is not even halfway through his term. The worst thing for the party is for Biden to pretend that a visibly fatigued 82-year-old man, even if his stamina was not further degraded whatsoever by the next two years, can promise to lead the free world in the most grueling job on the planet until his 86th birthday. Biden running and having to quit, or serving and having to quit, because of his health is a foreseeable, avoidable problem for Democrats. The risk this poses is not worth the advantages Biden’s incumbency would afford him in a reelection campaign. Moreover, if Biden runs and appears physically weaker late next year it is likely someone could jump in to challenge him. That is a bad scenario for the Democrats, no matter who that is or how it turns out.
Polls show that rank-and-file Democrats don’t want Biden to run for a second term. Overall, strong majorities of Americans across the political spectrum don’t want Biden or Trump to run again.
Plus, there was no blue wave, either. The 2022 elections did not affirm support for Democrats, their policies, or the president. Frustrated voters unhappy with Biden and Democrats retained a near status quo in Washington, angry over abortion and afraid of some freaky Republican candidates they couldn’t trust in office.
In an interview, pollster Stanley Greenberg told the New York Times that his surveys show continued vulnerabilities for Democrats, and he thinks “we need a new voice to address huge challenges but also huge opportunities.”
The sooner the next crop of Democrats capable of leading their party can begin to campaign openly for the 2024 nomination, the better off the party will be. Dragging that process out, and risking an emergency, is not a position a strong leader would leave his party in. Pelosi likes to say that power is not given, it is taken. But last month she gave hers away. If it wasn’t the best thing for her, it was still the best decision for her party. Biden should do the same.
And yet, that is the problem facing the Democrats: the next crop has reached maturation. Biden was lucky in 2020 that a pandemic occurred. Virtually every presidential candidate the Democrats had that cycle was exposed as unqualified. It was superficial, an actual smoke and mirrors show. Not the best situation politically for anyone as the nation braces to plunge further into an economic recession.