Sunday, 01 Oct 2023

The Democrats think centrism will re-elect Biden. Thats a dangerous assumption | David Sirota

The Democrats think centrism will re-elect Biden. Thats a dangerous assumption | David Sirota


The Democrats think centrism will re-elect Biden. Thats a dangerous assumption | David Sirota

The Democratic party's political class has developed a rote formula over the last decade: ignore rather than channel discontent among the party's rank-and-file voters, prevent competitive primaries where those voters can act on their dissatisfaction, and then hope to eke out general election victories on a wave of voter disgust with the Republican party's outlandish nominees.

This isn't just a fleeting tactic. This is now The Formula of Democratic Politicsâ„¢, one with mixed results. In 2016, the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, publicly bragged that the Formula would result in flipping enough moderate voters to secure a victory - just before the Formula's epic failure handed Donald Trump the presidency.

Four years later, though, the Formula seemed to work - Democrats united to quash the primary against the quasi-incumbent Joe Biden, and Trump's horrific first term allowed Biden to eke out a win with a flaccid campaign based on a meaningless platitude about "the soul of America".

Now Democrats seem intent on using the Formula again - only this time, it's even more risky because this is not a race against a sitting Republican president. In 2024, Biden is the incumbent playing defense, and data suggest that there's not much enthusiasm for his re-election campaign, even among his own party.

A stat from the Washington Post illustrates this larger problem: "Biden has less support for renomination among Democrats than Trump, Obama and Clinton had from their parties," the newspaper reports, noting that surveys show just 38% of Democrats want Biden to be the party's nominee in 2024. CNN's polling shows that right now, just one-third of Americans believe Biden deserves to be re-elected - lower than where Trump was at around this stage of his first term.

If there was a healthy, genuinely democratic culture among the Democratic party's political class, the response to the prospect of depressed voter enthusiasm might be a serious primary challenge. There might be a traditional top-tier candidate - maybe a senator, a governor, or even a member of the House - who is both ambitious enough to run for president and worried enough about a Biden failure in a general election against Trump.

Such a primary would serve the additional benefit of testing Biden's own re-election viability, and making sure he can handle the rigors of a campaign before he's already the nominee.

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