A prominent big-box political news site has offered up five potential Democrat 2024 presidential candidates if stumbling President Biden chooses not to run for re-election. What makes the list interesting is not the names offered so much as what it says about the state of a party that is firmly under the control of the Washington, DC, ruling establishment.
“Here’s a look at the five Democrats best positioned to win the nomination,” the May 30 article in The Hill states. It then proceeds to offer a stale rehash of the dismal 2020 Democratic primary, an affair so lackluster it led to the coronation of a limping Biden as the blue standard-bearer.
NBC News conducted the same exercise earlier in May, and the musings were much the same. Anyone reading either article could only conclude that the Democrat prime-time political bench is looking mighty thin these days.
A May Liberty Nation readers’ poll asked: “Who will challenge Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic Party nomination?” The results: 25% Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 50% someone else, and 25% no one.
This is not to say that these media lists are wrong. November 2020 reinforced a belief by the political establishment that it does not need to run a popular candidate to win elections. This is not merely an American phenomenon. In Canada and France, manifestly unpopular progressive statist candidates have been re-elected despite an array of negatives attached to their administrations.
In all three instances, the ruling status quo capitalized on stark divisions among voters to secure victory for candidates who could never hope to win on their own merits. Existential threats are hyped to hysterical levels to hide the inherent flaws of elitist politicians who have no genuine popular support.
The formula appears to work. Justin Trudeau is still prime minister in Canada, and Emmanuel Macron remains entrenched in the French presidency. With US progressives having fully acquiesced to the Democratic Party becoming the flagship of this establishment – neoconservative foreign policy and all – there is no reason for the party’s upper crust to offer a compelling nominee in 2024.
What is there to be said about the names The Hill has singled out as those “best positioned” if Biden opts out? Let us review.
Vice President Kamala Harris
Harris “tops our rankings,” The Hill declares of the one major face in the Biden administration who has managed to do the impossible – out-perform the president in public floundering.
It’s a fact the publication acknowledges. “A Los Angeles Times analysis of national polls this month showed Harris underwater with a 40 percent approval rating. ‘She has fallen short of expectations,’ said one Democratic strategist.”
Indeed. Harris is very much the chosen favorite of a Democrat inner core that is willing to overlook her unpopularity, up to the point where it simply becomes untenable. By almost every indication, that bridge has already been crossed. Yet, this is what many thought of Biden himself through most of 2019.
The ongoing dominant media effort to make the uninspiring Buttigieg appear a force of nature continues. “Biden’s transportation secretary surprised the Democratic establishment and political observers in 2020 with his come-out-of-nowhere campaign,” The Hill gushes. “Buttigieg has continued to make a name for himself, touring the country to tout Biden’s infrastructure projects and visiting key swing states including Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Ohio.”
Really? It feels like we’ve been through this before.
“From adorable to plausible to formidable? Pete Buttigieg on himself, and his candidacy,” The Cleveland Plain Dealer declared in a headline in May 2019 when his 2020 run got underway.
“Pete Buttigieg is making Republicans nervous,” USA Today declared one month before that.
“Is Pete Buttigieg a Transformational Candidate?” Andrew Sullivan at New York magazine asked that same spring.
To say this narrative never got out of the garage is an understatement – it didn’t even shift out of park. On the campaign trail, Buttigieg came across as the antithesis of anything bold and challenging. Staid and ultra-conventional, he did not have even one standout memorable moment. Two years as Transportation secretary have not changed this at all.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders
There is no reason to include either of these two aging progressives on the list, other than to hint at disenchantment with the Biden White House among the party’s grassroots leftist base. Warren and Sanders have two major dings on their 2024 resumes. If the argument is that a doddering Biden must give way to young blood, it must be noted that Warren will be 75 in the summer of 2024 and Sanders 83 in September of that year.
Even worse, the feeling hangs in the air that both would-be progressive champions badly missed their moments, Warren in 2020 and Sanders in 2016. The two senators have done nothing since January 2021 to merit a fresh hearing in 2024.
Much like fellow 2020 disaster Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) has faded into the woodwork since Biden entered the White House. Unpopular ruling establishment candidates may still be able to squeak out victories, but dull as dishwater is an entirely different obstacle in a national race.
One to Look Out For
This brings us to the one candidate we’d add to this list. Again, keeping in mind the Macron-Trudeau model, and as unfeasible as it may seem, California Gov. Gavin Newsom cannot be dismissed as a serious contender.
Newsom offers many things if a pivot away from Biden becomes a must. At 54 years of age, he has youth. Furthermore, he comes from the West Coast and is thus not tied to Washington – and he appeals to progressive voters.
The fact that he would instantly turn off a host of non-aligned voters is negated by the Democrat strategy of running against Republican “extremism” instead of promoting the party nominee.
The 2022 midterm elections will be key. If Democrats fare better than expected, insider favorite Harris will be the beneficiary, despite all her grievous flaws. If the party suffers a bloodbath, a faux outsider like Newsom will have an opening.