AMAC Exclusive – By Louis J. Senn
Democrats have a real 2024 problem. And no, it’s not the polls, or the economy, or the national mood. It’s the top of the ticket. Recent polls have shown that a majority of the country – and even a majority of Democrats – don’t want Joe Biden to run again. With his ever-more obvious physical and mental decline, it’s reasonable to ask if Biden will even be able to run. But when looking around at the other options available to take his place, the situation becomes truly grim for Democrats.
Kamala Harris: A Walking Blooper Reel
Vice President Kamala Harris should be a natural figure for Democrats to rally around. However, everyone within the party seems to understand that the former California Senator who couldn’t crack double digits in Iowa in 2020 and has lower approval ratings than Joe Biden simply isn’t a viable option.
It doesn’t help that Harris seems incapable of public speaking and has driven most of her staff to head for the exits. Voters do not connect with her. She’s awkward, uncomfortable, and perhaps most damning of all, has hardly done anything at all as Vice President. Though Biden made Harris his “border czar” more than 16 months ago, she has yet to visit the border and the immigration crisis is growing worse by the day.
Just as many voters seem to have buyer’s remorse with President Joe Biden, many in Democrat circles seem to have similar sentiments about Harris’s selection as Vice President.
Mayor Pete: Out of Touch and In Over His Head
On second thought, handing a small-town mayor control of the Department of Transportation might not have been the best idea – at least not this mayor. Though Pete Buttigieg is actually beating Joe Biden in some 2024 polling, his tenure as Transportation Secretary hardly inspires confidence. From disappearing for two months during the supply chain crisis to launching a $1 billion “road equity” project to combat “systemic racism” supposedly “built in” to the highway system, to suggesting that high gas prices are actually a good thing because they will force more Americans to buy electric vehicles, time and again Buttigieg has come across as tone deaf and out of touch – perhaps another reason why he too failed to gain much momentum in the 2020 race.
Americans are not looking for a lecturer-in-chief. They’re looking for a leader who understands their problems and helps them live their lives better. Most Americans want to be left alone, not be told that the roads they use are racist or that they must buy an electric car to be a “responsible citizen.” Pete Buttigieg can’t even run a federal agency – what reason do voters have to believe he can run a country?
Michelle Obama: The Sleeper Pick
More than six years after Barack Obama left the White House, Democrats and the mainstream media are still infatuated with anything to do with the Obama family. Late last month, Michelle Obama announced that she will be releasing yet another memoir this fall, to fawning praise from the media establishment. Some pundits are already describing her as the Democrats’ “emergency” candidate for 2024.
Putting aside the question of whether she would want the job (so far she has insisted that she doesn’t, but that could conceivably change with some lobbying from Democratic leaders), the former first lady would be a major force in any Democratic primary field thanks to her last name alone. Her fundraising ability would be unparalleled. Despite former President Obama’s unpopularity with conservatives, Michelle Obama remains generally popular with the public and is still one of the most recognizable figures in the country. For Democrats desperate for someone who at least appears to have a fighting chance in 2024, drafting Michelle Obama may become a more and more enticing option.
Hillary Clinton: A 2016 Rematch?
The other first lady that may make a return appearance in 2024 is Hillary Clinton, as “whispers” begin to circulate among Democratic circles that she could be the party’s best chance of retaining the White House. The 2016 runner-up has been increasing her public appearances in recent months, and she insisted following her loss to Donald Trump that he was an “illegitimate” president. A chance at a rematch in 2024 as Trump teases his own plans could be tempting for Clinton.
A potential Clinton 2024 campaign, of course, would be bogged down by the fact that she already lost one presidential race where she was heavily favored and had a huge fundraising advantage. Continuing revelations from the Durham report have also further damaged her credibility, and many Democrats may prefer a candidate with less political baggage.
The Rest of the Field: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Gavin Newsom, Roy Cooper
Then we have the rest of the Democrat hopefuls, whose chances are likely even slimmer than Biden’s. Elizabeth Warren undoubtedly still harbors presidential aspirations, but after failing to beat out Bernie Sanders for the party’s left-wing vote in 2020, she’s unlikely to make much noise in 2024, particularly if Sanders runs yet again.
As for Sanders, the Democratic establishment made clear in 2016 and 2020 that they have no intention of allowing him to win the nomination – even if they have to play dirty to ensure he stays off the ticket.
After surviving a recall bid in deep-blue California, Governor Gavin Newsom has shown some signs that he intends to take his brand of politics national by running ads in Florida and Texas. But with California witnessing a mass exodus of residents under Newsom’s leadership, a series of crises including crime, drugs, cost of living, and homelessness overtaking his state, and in the wake of a litany of scandals like the infamous French Laundry incident, Newsom will face significant hurdles in convincing the public to turn America into California.
There are also those within the party who cling to the fantasy that there is any lane at all left for “moderates” like North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “If he can win in Republican North Carolina, he can definitely win nationally,” goes the standard line of reasoning inside some liberal think tanks. But Cooper is unlikely to inspire much enthusiasm from the Democratic base. While his policies are undoubtedly far to the left of what most North Carolinians believe, they are nonetheless likely insufficiently “woke” for the Democrat activist class, handing any potential Cooper 2024 campaign a baked-in disadvantage.
These names are just a few to be on the lookout for in 2024 should Biden not seek a second term (or perhaps even if he does). More are sure to arise – after all, no one was talking seriously about President Donald Trump before the 2014 midterms. Regardless of who the nominee is, however, they’ll still be forced to defend Biden’s disastrous record and explain to voters why the Democratic Party deserves another four years in the White House. That will be a tall task for any politician, no matter how skilled or determined they are.
Louis J. Senn is a lawyer living in Louisville, Kentucky. He previously served in the Trump administration.
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