AMAC Exclusive – By Barry Casselman
The Democrats have a problem. Their incumbent first-term president is so unpopular he is negatively affecting their party’s prospects for the coming national midterm elections, and he has minimal prospects of his own to be re-elected in two years. He and his administration’s record and policies have caused the midterms to be unfavorably nationalized so that the Democrats’ control of the U.S. House and Senate could be lost in November.
What can the Democrats do, and what are they likely to do?
It is no longer idle speculation that many Democrats would prefer a new nominee for president in 2024. Efforts are already underway through friendly liberal media venues to undercut any rationale for Mr. Biden and his supporters to justify running for a second term. Polls, op-eds, and interviews with grassroots party voters are suddenly appearing in a media environment that for years ignored criticism of Biden as a candidate and then president. Some are even advocating that he resign now — before the midterm elections.
The party’s dilemma is that there is no better alternative — especially in the case of a premature resignation. Vice President Kamala Harris is even more unpopular than Biden.
After the midterms, Democrats will have about a year to settle on a replacement candidate for 2024, but they lack so far a credible candidate — although there will be no shortage of those who would run. Democratic strategists might hope for a new charismatic figure to emerge from 2022’s election night — a Democrat who wins in spite of a Republican tide and could provide a fresh restart for the national party.
Replacement efforts depend on Joe Biden’s willingness to agree to voluntarily retire in 2024. Considering his current political weakness, he would likely have primary opponents even if he did not retire, but that is a scenario that historically leads to defeat — as both Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992 learned the hard way.
However, considering his age and apparent frailty, and if his approval numbers remain so low, it is not unreasonable to assume now that soon after the midterms, Biden will announce he will not be a candidate in 2024. Under different circumstances, President Harry Truman in 1952 and President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 did it — although the other party won the election those years.
The prospects for Democrats are rather dire for 2022 — the election is now less than 100 days away — as the economy is in recession, the stock market is in “bear” territory, inflation is very high and rising, supply chains are snarled, urban crime is dramatically increasing, the Mexican border crisis is out of control, and energy resources are uncertain. All of these, Republicans argue, are a direct result of the actions and policies of the Biden administration and congressional Democrats.
But the prospects for Democrats in 2024 are much less certain. A new Democratic ticket, eschewing radical policies, in an economic recovery environment, might be competitive. If the Ukraine war is over, and there is no war over Taiwan — or any other war involving U.S. troops – a liberal but moderate agenda might be appealing to voters, especially with fresh political figures. (The Korean War in 1952 and Vietnam in 1968 were decisive factors working against the party in power in those elections.)
However, it would be much more difficult for the Democratic Party to turn back to the center than it would be to persuade Joe Biden to retire voluntarily.
That is what makes the Democrats’ dilemma so perplexing. Dumping an unpopular president would be a bit unpleasant for the party, but it is relatively simple compared to changing the ideological direction of a party increasingly politically correct, woke, economically out of touch, and unsympathetic to its own traditional voter base.
That is the Democrats’ real dilemma.
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