The Republican conundrum with former President Donald Trump is now well documented. For whatever reason, every indictment makes him stronger and his nomination as the Republican candidate in 2024 seems likely, despite the fact that there hasn’t been a single primary vote cast.
Things can change, but history says it won’t.
So it looks like the Republican nominee will be on television every day, not because he is the nominee, but because his criminal trials are being broadcast on television. It doesn’t feel like putting your best foot forward.
But Democrats have their own strange problem for 2024. Seventy-five percent of Americans don’t believe Joe Biden should run for president, a number that includes a majority of Democrats. His diminishing capacity is obvious to everyone watching. No one is mad at people who suffer diminished capacity, but we do occasionally take away their keys so they don’t hurt themselves or someone else. America generally understands that Joe Biden shouldn’t have the keys to the country anymore. He needs to enjoy his family and take lots of naps without feeling like he’s neglecting more important things.
Throw in the growing probability that he will face an impeachment trial for soliciting and taking bribes while vice president, and Democrats, like the Republicans, have a real political problem.
But the Democrats’ problem seems more solvable. There is no hardened base of support for Biden within the grassroots like Trump. Virtually all Biden supporters support him simply because they haven’t been given a better option.
Given the general lack of enthusiasm for Biden and the obvious health issues that would give him a reasonable and even dignified off-ramp, it seems like an obvious decision to pass the baton to the vice president. After all, she is much younger, and being the bridge president to the next generation of leadership was one of Biden’s talking points in 2020. The problem with this plan, however, is his vice president.
As unpopular as President Biden is, Vice President Kamala Harris is even more unpopular. Despite Trump’s array of political and legal challenges, polls consistently have him polling ahead of Harris in a hypothetical race. The only time Harris seems to get any attention is when she is being laughed at for saying something intended to be profound but is decidedly not.
Remarkably, for a person in her position, she consistently talks like someone who is giving a book report on a book she never read. Beyond that, people just seem not to like her. She ran for president in 2020 but failed to get any traction.
So, if Harris is that unpopular, why not just pass the baton to someone else like Gavin Newsom (who wants it badly) or Pete Buttigieg (he’s gay! historic!). Well, that becomes a problem too because the Democratic Party cares about identity politics as much as anything. President Biden promised to select a black woman as his vice president and delivered on that promise by selecting Harris. But America doesn’t like her, not because she’s a black woman, but because she’s apparently unlikable.
In a world governed by identity politics, the various coalitions that hold the Democratic Party together would explode if it was decided that Biden would be pushed aside and the mantle would pass over the black, woman, heir-apparent in favor of a white man like Newsom or Buttigieg.
So if you’re on the Right and feel stuck with Trump when you believe anyone but Trump would beat Biden handily, a lot of Democrats feel your pain. They know Biden is a political liability, but they’ve painted themselves into a corner. Their rules are very clear. You can’t go with a better candidate if a black woman is next in line. It doesn’t matter how bad she is.
So, to avoid admitting there should be some things that matter more than group identity, it seems they’ll stick with Biden and hope for the best.
This sets 2024 up to be a race between “At least I’m not Biden” versus “At least I’m not Trump,” and few will feel good about it.
Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council.
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