Vox: We're Stuck With Biden

AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough

You know that things are going downhill for the President when he's even lost the support of his usual cheerleaders at Vox. Christian Paz penned an analysis for them under the mournful title, 'Yes, Democrats. It's Biden or Bust.' That headline isn't meant as any sort of declaration that everyone needs to support the Big Guy until the bitter end. Paz begins by admitting that it's "nothing new" to realize that Biden is "an old man" who is widely unpopular with broad swathes of people. He even takes the time to ponder a number of ways the Democrats could try to remove Biden from the ticket. But in the end, he concludes that the task is simply insurmountable, so they will need to roll the dice on Biden once again.

Now the past week has left normies and politicos alike wondering: What would it take for someone to replace Biden at this point? Is there a feasible process? Is it too late?

It would be a historic effort to even try — no sitting president has lost his party’s nomination to a primary challenger in the modern political era.

Replacing Biden as the Democratic nominee at this point would be a herculean, if not impossible, task. It would take overcoming two kinds of obstacles: real-world, practical challenges, and the more hypothetical but still important political challenges that exist for any potential Biden replacement.

Paz first looks at the possibility of simply beating Biden in the primary and taking the nomination away from him. He correctly points out that the Democratic primary is barely underway, but Joe Biden has garnered all of the available delegates thus far. If he reaches the magic number of 1,969, that's the ballgame. The "bound" delegates awarded in the primary are obligated to vote for the person they were awarded to in the first round. 

Of course, that idea ignores the superdelegates. There are plenty of them. Unless Biden literally does run the table and land every last bound delegate, they could take it away from him at the last minute. But if he does run the table, who's fault is that? The DNC did their level best to act as if there wasn't even a primary taking place and Biden was the winner by default before the primary began. They scared off all of the other potentially viable challengers. They've treated RFK Jr. like a pariah. 

The author next explores the possibility of Joe Biden voluntarily directing his delegates to vote for someone else at the convention or simply declaring that he's out of the race. But that would most likely lead to a brokered convention with multiple rounds of voting. That's precisely the sort of chaos that the DNC does not want to see. They would prefer an orderly transition. But any sort of "normal" orderly transition would push Kamala Harris to the front. Paz contends that attempting to bypass Harris for someone else such as Gavin Newsom would come at grave political risk. Letting her grab the reins wouldn't be any better. Harris is one of the few prominent national Democrats with worse poll numbers than Biden.

There is always the 25th Amendment solution, but that comes with its own extensive list of challenges. First, you would need to identify a sufficient number of members of the Cabinet (a majority) who would be willing to join in with Kamala Harris and inform the Speaker and the President pro tempore of the Senate that Biden can no longer fulfill the duties of his office. But that would leave them with Harris as the President, a prospect many of them would likely not relish. Even then, that doesn't mean that Harris can be on the ballot for any remaining primary states, particularly when the deadline for filing has already passed in the vast majority of them. Would that really improve things from the perspective of the Democrats?

There is really only one person who could potentially make this happen and that's Jill Biden. If she could convince the "kindly old man with a bad memory" that it was time to free his delegates and hit the road, he might listen. Then again, he might not. So the deeper you look into the question, the more Paz appears to be correct. The Democrats are probably in a "Biden or bust" situation. Let's all cross our fingers for the sake of the nation and hope that it's a "bust."

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David Strom 6:00 AM | April 25, 2024