July 6, 2024 editorial

Democrats are between a rock and a hard place, but losing to Trump is not an option

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May 6, 2024. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy presentation with the U.S. Military Academy Black Knights football team in the East Room of the White House.

Picture by: White House | Flickr

There are many arguments against why Joe Biden should not run for the second term as the President of the United States, and most of them are valid.

He is, after all, an 81 year-old, relatively senile man, whose capability of holding an incredibly important position – not only for America but also for the rest of the world – has been already negatively assessed by the editorial board of The New York Times,an outlet that can be considered the closest thing to the voice of liberal America.

Biden’s age could be perceived as an advantage because his body of experience is second to none. Known as one of the longest-serving US Senators, and elected seven times in Delaware, he served in the US Senate for 36 consecutive years, from 1973 to 2008, and then for eight years as the Vice President (VP) for Barack Obama. With the cherry on top being the last four years in the Oval Office, Biden arguably has more experience and understanding in terms of politics and economics than almost any other person in the United States.

Biden’s stuttering has stirred some discussion and was used by his critics before, but after the presidential debate on June 27, the issue translated into a major concern among the public and Democratic officials. Biden seemed to lose his train of thought, not fully answer questions, and at times seemed unable to express his ideas.

A survey taken after the debate between Biden and Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump, held on June 27 in Atlanta, showed that 69% of registered voters believe that Biden should not be the candidate on the Democratic ticket.

Effectively, America finds itself in an unusual situation with an impossible choice between two controversial candidates running for presidency.

Biden’s campaign of unity, progressivism and rebuilding the economy is in tatters because it is crucial for the president of the United States to be able to communicate effectively – to other nation’s leaders, to other opposing candidates, and to the American people.

On the other hand, Americans can vote for former President Donald Trump, who builds his campaign on aggressive populism, mobilises his supporters with promises of restoring “true American values”, and promises four years of political, social, environmental and legal volatility.

It’s not only about the US. As wars are being waged in Ukraine and the Middle East, all actors on the global stage are waiting for the political situation in America to be resolved – the result of the November 5 election will have implications in the Black Sea, where Russia blocks the export of Ukrainian grain, and the Red Sea, where Iran-backed Houthi militia forces attack trade vessels.

By keeping Joe Biden as the candidate, Democrats quite possibly risk proposing a president who is believed by most people to be unfit to perform the functions of his office, but also a president who might have to step down during his term.

It is a testimony of the severity of the situation that it makes no sense to recall how in 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt died a few months after being re-elected for his fourth term (his campaign covered up the fact that he was severely ill). Back then, VP Harry S. Truman turned out to be competent enough to lead the nation after Roosevelt’s passing and even win himself a re-election in 1949.

This may not be the case with Kamala Harris, Biden’s VP, who would be a more or less obvious choice if the decision was made to replace Biden. In comparison to bringing in someone new, she would be recognizable to the American public as she has been in office for the last four years alongside Biden, meaning that she understands his policies and possible goals for the future while being more physically able to carry them out.

Read more:

Harris tries to hold the line for Biden as some Democrats panic over election

Although it is believed that she is disliked by the public, her numbers do not put her at a significant disadvantage to Biden. According to AP News,49% of Americans have an unfavourable opinion of Harris – lower than Biden’s 57%. Harris, with 39% in favorability ranking, nearly matches Biden’s 40%.

The largest problem is that 12% of Americans feel that they do not know enough about Harris to form an opinion – but four months is enough to change that.

Her position, however, would be weakened by the fact that two full terms are necessary for a president to be considered ‘successful’. Grounded mainly in the principle that a second term allows a president to build on their accomplishments, strengthen long-term policies, and leave a lasting legacy.

If Biden were to be replaced, it would be akin to the Democratic party admitting that his term was not ‘successful’ and that electing him president in 2020 was a mistake.

Alternatives do not really exist. With a few months left before voters take action, there is not enough time to properly market a new candidate.

Biden has been the face of the Democratic party since 2021. If there was more time, a better argument could be made that a different candidate should step up and replace Biden, but Democrats do not have this luxury. Nor do they have the option to do what political parties often do in established democracies, that is to just accept that they will lose.

The upcoming presidential election can resemble the just-ended, half-serious campaign effort of the Conservative party in the United Kingdom, which resulted in a Labour party victory, or the very dignified and elegant way the Republican nominee John McCain lost to Barack Obama in 2008.

Democrats have no choice but to find a way between a rock and a hard place and defeat Donald Trump. There are millions of people, both in the US and around the world, who are terrified of the perspective of Trump returning to the White House, who won’t forgive them if they don’t – and young people are a significant part of this group.

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Washington DC Newsroom

In July 2024, a team of seven Harbingers’ journalists and editors — Alia Saphier,Klaudia Bacza,Maciej Cebula,Noah Saphier,Christian Yeung,Justin Sauand Jefferson He— met at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. to lay the groundwork for covering the US Presidential Election and its aftermath in the autumn.


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