Time for Plan B

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The Democrats had seen the defeat in Atlanta coming, but not on the catastrophic scale in which it was starkly staged for ninety minutes on the screens of CNN Thursday night. Strategists and party bigwigs thought that Biden, appropriately protected by a safety net, could stand up to the difficult test with Trump. So much so that the Democratic leadership has not conceived or prepared an alternative plan, like the one that many are now loudly and urgently calling for, with donors, who have never opened their wallets so generously as in this competition, at the head of the line.

The issue of Joe Biden’s age, combined with his growing difficulty in handling such a heavy role, has been on the agenda since the candidate announced his re-election campaign, with the support of his family and Democratic party leaders, but also from consequential circles and contexts such as the New York Times, Hollywood and major universities, a front that saw the incumbent president as the person best equipped to defeat the impostor from New York once again.

Of course, it must be said that Biden has recently suffered a clear worsening of his psychophysical condition, probably due to the legal affairs of his son Hunter.

On his recent European tour, then especially at a fundraising gala in Los Angeles, he appeared to be in a state of confusion and physical exhaustion. The image from the Los Angeles event of Barack Obama gently but firmly leading Biden off the stage, while he seemed disoriented and stuck, was striking.

It was thought – on the part of the staff – that they could control the situation, with all sorts of care and protection: a safety belt around the president. They went as far as imposing a format tailor-made for him on CNN – a debate without an audience, with controlled microphones, with the screen divided in half, and other devices that were supposed to support the president and act as a safety net for him, but which actually did nothing but highlight his weakness. His inadequacy was all the more glaring in the face of a challenger who made his public fortune as the creator and host of a reality show like The Apprentice, a “stray cat” – Biden’s definition – who moves with agility on stage and on the screen.

Billboards placed around Atlanta before the debate

The idea of organizing a debate in June, which in the past has always been held after the summer conventions, was supposed to serve to build the narrative of a challenge of decency against indecency, of good against evil, of democracy against subversion, which would then be the major issue of the November vote.

The presidential debate ruined this plan, and has put its leader in a serious crisis, paving the way for a referendum on Biden instead of Trump, as the White House had hoped for.

Politics now ends up even further on the margins. The discussion among Democrats is focused on the candidate, on his ability to win on November 5th and to lead the Democratic candidates in the race for the Senate and the House of Representatives and for a myriad of local elected offices. The stakes in play are immense, and the Democratic Party is unprepared. In a panic.

In the coming days, pressure will intensify for Biden to step back and facilitate a process of designating another presidential ticket himself. It is the media, even friendly outlets, first and foremost that is interested in seeing that the race reopens with another contender. The New York Times started the ball rolling with a series of editorials by its strongest authors, starting with Thomas Friedman.

There is no shortage of potential alternative candidates. There are at least three of them, such as the governors of California, Gavin Newsom, of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, or Maryland, Wes Moore. However, apart from Kamala Harris, no one is prepared for such a demanding undertaking, which would have to take place over the next few weeks, with the very high risk of getting burned.

How a path for a non-traumatic change of presidential candidate could be achieved is a major political problem. The main path would be towards a brokered, open Democratic convention (in the middle of August in Chicago), similar to the congress of a European party, where the four thousand delegates and superdelegates can discuss one or more candidates.

But here we return to why Biden is the Democratic candidate and risks remaining so, despite his years and his now clear psychophysical limitations. It is because he had the strength and ability to unite the different souls and factions of the Democratic Party, today once again stressed by divisions and internal conflicts. This is also why Biden was able to beat Trump in 2020. All the other potential candidates being discussed do not seem to have this same ability.

On the opposing front, instead, today Donald Trump has exactly that strength and uniting ability in the Grand Old Party, where many hate him, but are nevertheless ready to give him all the support he needs to win.

il manifesto

Translation by Paul Rosenberg

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Time for Plan B ultima modifica: 2024-07-01T13:51:58+02:00 da GUIDO MOLTEDO
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