Who could be the challenger? Since parties tend to see their presidents as kings and not mere servants, it is rare for the politician to go against his party boss just for the fun of it. The dethronement of an incumbent president by his own party has not happened since Franklin Pierce, so the daunting odds end up nullifying capable candidates. The internal-party argument against the president’s primaries notes how, in recent decades, such challengers have failed to win and have only weakened the incumbent to the point that the general loses (Ronald Reagan vs. Gerald Ford; Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter ; Pat Buchanan v George HW Bush). Winning, after all, is everything in politics.
Biden presents a different case. Not every old person who wants to be president should be put on an ice floe and pushed out to sea. I can think of several octogenarians who still have the gas needed to run the White House. Warren Buffet. Charles Koch. Michael Bloomberg. Nancy Pelosi. Antonio Fauci. Ralph Nader. Sandy Kufax. Well, maybe not Koufax, but you get the idea. But the onus should fall on Biden show he’s mentally and physically agile enough to get the job done for another term before he’s allowed to run against the best Republicans have to offer. Say what you will about Trump, who just turned 77, but he seems as competent (read it as you like) as he was in 2016. The GOP is largely lining up behind Trump, but at least a growing number of ambitious Republicans are forcing to run an actual primary campaign instead of bowing down to him. Just listen to Chris Christie raking Trump: he’s a « self-consumed, selfish mirror pig » who can’t take responsibility for his actions, someone who is « self-obsessed » and can be compared to Voldemort.
Democrats should have such courage. Governor Gavin Newsom of California is already acting like the president-in-exile, proposing a new one Constitutional amendment on gun controlworking at ban gas cars and threatening to arrest Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for kidnapping of migrants. Like Newsom, Pete Buttigieg wears his presidential ambitions on his forehead like a bumper sticker. There’s definitely not a time he’s not thinking about becoming president, so why not act on those instincts, the same ones that propelled him from mayor of Mid City to secretary of transportation? To mix sports metaphors, Buttigieg could be Biden’s rabbit in the primaries, running so hard and so fast that Biden would pick up the pace and show doubters his youthful stamina. Both Newsom and Buttigieg will be airing in 2028 anyway, so why not start now? They would be doing him a favor by strengthening it.
Remember, thanks to Covid-19, a good portion of Biden The 2020 campaign was virtual, so 2024 will be more strenuous for the president. Beyond placing him in combat gear (or not), major adversaries would prepare us for the all-too-real possibility of him being incapacitated by a stroke, seriously injured in one of his frequent downfalls or another bicycle accident, or he just dies one evening. It is not impolite or impolite to plan an employee’s sudden departure. If Kamala Harris convinced the country that she could step into Biden’s shoes if he suddenly walked out, the argument for a primary challenge wouldn’t be as urgent. But when was the last time someone you trust told you Harris could easily fill those shoes, let alone run for the nomination if the afterlife had called Biden home before November 2024?
Someone? Whoever? Beto O’Rourke or Amy Klobuchar or Cory Booker or Chris Murphy or Elizabeth Warren would also be enough. Any heavyweight under the age of 75 with the boxing skills to subject the current champion to a hammering 12 blows. No one is owed another term just because he’s completing the first one. You should fight for the right to lead your party. And your country.
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