Is the Democratic Party “Ridin’ with Biden” or Seeking Another Option?
By Sean Fischer, Administrator & Adjunct Faculty, Rowan University, Mark Cogan, Associate Professor, Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, and Harvey J. Kaye, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin—Green Bay
Joe Biden Will Be the Democratic Party’s 2024 Nominee
By Sean Fischer – Administrator & Adjunct Faculty, Rowan University
As we consider the Democratic party’s nominee for 2024, we need to look at today’s political reality. Joe Biden is the sitting President of the United States, with the full power of incumbency. It is rare for a sitting president to lose a general election, much less their political party’s nomination, though it has happened before. Nevertheless, Biden is the leader of the Democratic Party; his political alliances are vast and his fundraising is beyond sound. He is a seasoned veteran of political life, having the experience of five national campaigns. So while it may sound obvious, President Biden will be the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2024.
Joe Biden is a senior citizen and Americans vaguely agree that we want “youth” in national leadership. However, want and need are two different things, and Biden remains the candidate Democrats need. Biden himself recognizes his age, candidly referencing it while meeting it head-on with a youthful, new media competence. These deliberate actions illustrate that he and his team possess the insight and experience needed to prevail again in a national race.
As Trump maintains his grip on the Republican Party, Biden’s political position only continues to strengthen. Trump cobbled together the necessary electoral map in 2016 but sizably lost the popular vote. The 2018 midterms were not kind to Trump, leading to Biden’s victory over Trump in 2020. Biden was able to claim a historic midterm election victory in 2022—where Trump did everything in his power to make that election about himself. Recent legal troubles suggest it is doubtful Trump’s base will grow. These factors indicate that in 2024, Biden will be running against an increasingly less popular and more vulnerable opponent, whom he has already beaten—begging the question, why would the Democratic Party not back a proven winner against this candidate?
Biden’s Track Record
President Biden’s domestic record demonstrates mastery of the art of compromise. Despite a volatile and divided Congress, he has managed to make strides toward major public policy goals, while keeping the government functional. The Biden Administration has seen many major bills passed, including: The American Rescue Plan, CHIPS and Science Act, Inflation Reduction Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Safer Communities Act, and it has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. Biden has acted on student debt, climate change, security and intellectual property, among others. Economically, the labor market is historically strong and unemployment is historically low.
Through his appointments, Biden has returned to the practice of appointing individuals of substance to key positions and has also illustrated a strong commitment to inclusivity. While examples abound, Biden offered the Vice-Presidential nomination to Kamala Harris, the first woman elected to the office of Vice President and the first woman of color to be nominated or elected. He appointed and saw Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed as the first woman of color on the Supreme Court. Biden appointed Pete Buttigieg to the post of Secretary of Transportation, becoming the first openly gay cabinet member confirmed by the U.S. Senate. And he appointed Dr. Rachel Levine to the post of Assistant Secretary for Health, where she became the first openly transgender individual confirmed to a post by the U.S. Senate.
On the world stage, Biden has largely restored the image of the U.S. Biden marshaled a strong NATO-driven coalition to support the sovereignty of Ukraine against Russian aggression. Unlike Trump, who undermined the value of that alliance, Biden’s tenure has seen NATO expand. Biden has not been sheepish when dealing with authoritarians in China, Russia, and North Korea. While it was troubled, Biden removed U.S. military personnel from Afghanistan, a goal of every president since 2001.
The Case For Biden
While these points are not an exhaustive listing of the Biden administration’s accomplishments, they are illustrative of his administration’s efforts to restore some gravitas to government and achieve both progressive and substantial public policy goals. Biden has illustrated political accomplishment and acumen. Importantly, his accomplishments as president have clearly surpassed that of any of his stated rivals and have met, or exceeded, that of his predecessors in the office.
Certainly, Biden is imperfect, both as President and as a candidate. However, the coalition who lined up behind Biden in 2020 once again has the option to support an individual who is “profoundly decent,” legislatively accomplished, and has demonstrated his ability to deftly and responsibly wield the powers of the highest office in the nation.
Joe Biden Fails the Test on Economics, Climate Change, and More
By Mark Cogan – Associate Professor, Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka
Joe Biden should not be renominated by the Democratic Party in 2024, particularly when there are other potential Democrats who could perform well against any Republican rival. Of course, President Biden would do well in the primary against the two declared fringe candidates. Robert Kennedy Jr. has supported conspiracy theories and been accused by many of antisemitism, while Marianne Williamson’s past abusive behavior toward her staff has caused alarm. However, Biden’s record of domestic and foreign policy leaves much to be desired.
Room for Improvement
On domestic policy, Biden claims success with a record low unemployment rate, an infrastructure bill, and economic injections that were roughly 10 percent of the American economy. However, the math behind Biden’s optimism is rather gloomy. The $1.2 billion infrastructure bill, which aims to improve roads, bridges, airports, and ports, as well as create electric vehicle charging stations across the country, isn’t as big of a success as it was first made out to be. Biden’s cautionary, if not slow, management of inflation had the effect of eating heavily into the costs of infrastructure development. Material costs soared as inflation hit 8.3 percent in April 2022. Building costs rose by more than 20 percent over 2021 and increased by 70 percent since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the most pressing issue of our time—the catastrophic effects of climate change—Biden’s pragmatic, fence-sitting approach has put him at odds with his own party. While the Administration likes to tout America’s rejoining of the Paris Climate Agreement, Biden contradicts himself with the contentious approval of a $7 billion proposal by an oil corporation in Alaska’s rich North Slope, an area reported by the Department of the Interior as extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts. While attempting to lessen Europe’s dependence on Russian oil in the near future via liquified natural gas (LNG) exports from vulnerable Gulf states, Biden has hurt American energy security by exposing energy markets to additional insecurity while price gouging the same European consumers it aims to benefit. Most importantly, LNG creates almost as much climate pollution as coal, with studies showing that large amounts of methane are released with LNG (60 percent higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency thought).
Even though the Alaska and Gulf LNG export deals represent just a fraction of America’s fossil fuel dependence, it also demonstrates Biden’s lack of a clear climate change strategy. Biden can’t have it both ways. His administration cannot urge a limit of global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change without serious policy reversal on fossil fuels. And it cannot allow greed, corruption, and hypocrisy to exist while aiming to help European allies in the short term. Biden should encourage Europe to have a more proactive approach to an energy crisis of its own making.
The Democratic Party Needs New Leadership
In this brief contribution, I have addressed just two issues that should give Democrats pause in renominating Biden in 2024: the economy and the environment. But the list of failures is long. Healthcare is another burning issue, at the top of the list of the biggest worries for Americans. For example, states have pushed millions off of Medicare rolls, but Biden has refused to criticize any of them because his administration fears damaging its relationships with them. Without even addressing Biden’s major foreign policy blunders, America is in need of new leadership. Until a reasonable candidate, such as Arizona Senator Mark Kelly or Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, steps forward, an undervote in the primary appears like a legitimate choice. The general election, however, is another story.
The Case for New Leadership in the Democratic Party
By Harvey J. Kaye – Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin—Green Bay
Marianne Williamson should lead the Democratic party in 2024. I support her—indeed, I am serving as her historical and political advisor—because she is the only candidate who recognizes the depth of the crisis we face and appreciates the urgent need for truly progressive, radical democratic action.
A Call for Action
We have endured nearly 50 years of corporate class warfare, conservative culture war campaigns, and neoliberal public policies. Together, these crises have subordinated the public good to private greed, undone the hard-won rights of workers, women, and people of color, burdened a generation with overwhelming debt, breached the wall separating church and state, taken us into catastrophic military engagements, produced a devastating recession, and pushed the environment to the brink. To state the obvious: American democratic life and its future is in jeopardy.
Reactionaries and authoritarians have taken control of the GOP and neoliberals continue to lead the Democratic party. Nonetheless, we have good reason to hope and act. Vast numbers of Americans have demonstrated from the bottom up that they still feel America’s democratic imperative, voting for social-democratic public policies such as a right to a job at a living wage, a voice in the workplace, public healthcare, free higher education, and a decent home. The energy is palpable. Progressive politics demands progressive leadership, and a narrative to inspire and encourage democratic action.
The time has come to take hold of our history and remind ourselves and our fellow citizens of what Republicans have long sought to make us forget. All too many Democrats have either forgotten or, like Republicans, just don’t want to remember. The time has come to recall the struggles that extended and deepened the we in “We the People” and how our greatest generations and greatest leaders—Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt—confronted and prevailed over their own crises. They did not give up or suspend their finest ideals and aspirations. They worked to make the United States radically freer, more equal, and more democratic than ever before. The time has come to make America radical again—or as FDR wrote in the midst of the Great Depression, two years before he ran for President: “There is no question in my mind that it is time for the country to become fairly radical for at least one generation.”
Choose Williamson for the Future
Marianne Williamson gets that. Last summer, she and I began a series of podcasts and private conversations about American history, especially the politics and presidency of FDR. Those conversations fed into a critical discussion of the Democratic party, the current presidential administration, and the question of her making a new run for the White House. She made it very clear that, if she did, she would vigorously challenge the neoliberal order that had produced the crisis, just as FDR had challenged the persistent Gilded Age order that had led to the Great Depression. She promised to articulate anew FDR’s 1944 vision of an Economic Bill of Rights for all Americans—which is exactly why we need her to lead the Democratic party in 2024.
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