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Tuesday, July 02, 2024

The Democratic Debacle

 It is still too early to know what the outcome of the post-debate controversy about President Biden's candidacy for re-election will be.  On the one hand, no leading Democratic politician has yet called for him to step down--a sad contrast in my opinion to 1974 when, for different reasons of course, prominent Republicans abandoned Richard Nixon.  On the other hand, stories indicate that leading donors--once again, a constituency that the White House is more likely to respect--still believe that the party needs a new candidate.  I am taking a moment, however, to say that the behavior of Biden, his family, and above all the people around him and the DNC leadership disgraces the Democratic Party.  They seem motivated by a feeling of total entitlement, with no regard for the fate either of the party or the country.  If they succeed in getting Biden renominated, they will deserve his defeat, no matter what it turns out to mean for the country.

Three quarters of the population, polls show, think that Biden is too old to continue n office.  The debate proved to most of us that they are right.  But he and his family and his staff don't care.  They simply repeat their mantra that the nation has to re-elect him in order to prevent the catastrophe of a Trump victory.  I agree that the Trump victory will be a catastrophe, but it does not follow that we have to rally around Biden now to avoid it.  Instead, it makes it all the more essential to come up with a stronger candidate than Biden to prevent it.  

From Bill Clinton through Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and now Biden, Democratic leaders have combined neoliberalism on the economic front with progressive stances on social issues and lip service to New Deal principles, confident that this proves them more virtuous than the Republicans.  This will be the third election in a row in which they assume that the nation must prefer them to Trump.  There is however no such mandate.  A new poll now shows Trump a few points ahead in New Hampshire--and let us not forget that a simple switch in New Hampshire to Al Gore would have given him the White House without Florida.  Evidence from New York also suggests that Trump may do considerably better in the popular vote in blue states, and thus in the nation as a whole, this time.

Throwing the Democratic nomination open now would take over the news cycle from the issues of Biden's age and Trump's latest outrage, a most welcome event.  The country would love to see some new blood in the race and watch the spectacle of candidates fighting it out, perhaps even in multiple ballots, which last occurred in 1952.  Do not forget that Abraham Lincoln, who was not even a true national figure in early 1860, emerged from such a battle in the Republican convention of that year.  But today, I read, the Biden forces want to give him the nomination via DNC ballot even before the convention meets. They originally made this plan to meet a deadline fixed in Ohio, but Ohio has lifted that deadline  The only reason to use a DNC vote now is to quash opposition to Biden before it can get off the ground.

The moment of national crisis that Strauss and Howe first predicted thirty years ago is here.  It requires us all to think first of the fate of the nation, not of ourselves.  The Biden White House is failing that test.


Matthew E said...

Enh. I don't know. Certainly Biden isn't ideal. Certainly somebody else would make a better president, although I have no idea if the Democrats could come up with such a person. Would Harris be better? At this stage, though, to sub in another candidate... would that have the desired effect? Or would Door Number Three be at a disadvantage compared to where Biden would be? It all seems very uncertain. And the Democrats aren't good enough at colouring outside the lines to deal with these questions.

I'm just hoping that the election is an undramatic Democrat win, consistent with the notion that we're already in a High.

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the recent Supreme Court decisions.

James N. McClatchey said...

David, I agree with most of this except for the conclusion that this is the 4th Turning moment. I think it more likely such a moment will require an ominous external threat to snap us back to reality.

Matthew E said...

Oh, and, another thing I meant to say. As long as we're talking about people withdrawing from their position. The one who really ought to withdraw is Trump. After all, he's the one causing most of the trouble here. He's not a fact of nature; he's a person. Biden should do the right thing for the country? If only even once Trump had done the right thing for anybody. It's got people saying that the president has to quit his job because the Worst American Ever can't be held to any standard at all.

David Kaiser said...

It is a 4T moment because it's the final collapse of the establishment, represented by the Democrats, and all it stands for. Biden has become Buchanan--appropriately enough, generationally! Either the re-election of Trump, or the selection of a new candidate (other than Harris) by the Democrats and their election will be a revolutionary event.
Matthew, my post is more addressed at the rest of the Democratic Party than at Biden himself. The whole Republican party has already caved into Trump. The Democrats must not do the same. Indications this morning suggest that they will not.