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A Non-debate and its Consequences to the Democratic Party

George I. Gonzalez 28 Jun 2024
A Non-debate and its Consequences to the Democratic Party Who is going to want to campaign next to Biden now? He just become a liability. (Freepik/Especial/Adobe Stock/MIT SMR México)

“Trump is crazy, and Biden is too slow to fight back” – that was the best evaluation of the debate I’ve heard. The Democratic Party’s leadership is in a scramble, and they just lost this election.

It was tough to watch from the very beginning. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone watching the news reels of President Biden’s recent public appearances.

He has aged, he has flaws, he has trouble with his speech, but is still right on the issues. He’s just not the same energetic candidate he was in 2020.

“Trump is crazy, and Biden is too slow to fight back” – that was the best evaluation of the debate I’ve heard.  The Democratic Party’s leadership is in a scramble, and they just lost this election.

This is a problem of their own making. Donald Trump is a deeply flawed candidate. In 2020, a younger, more vibrant, and energetic Biden outshined Trump in the debates.

He exposed his falsehoods, damaged his ego, made him seem unfit for office, and presented himself as the competent and experienced leader that America needed. This version of Joe Biden was not that.

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Biden to step down?

After the debate political pundits sounded the alarms and broke news that democratic leaders are looking for options and will ask Biden to step down. This was a catastrophe, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Barack Obama came out of nowhere 16 years ago and won two elections as a candidate who could switch voters and win in red states. Since then (and in some cases prior to), the Democratic Party has been trusting its future to the same leadership and candidates (Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer) and this will be their legacy.

Their inability or unwillingness to groom a new generation of leaders has consequently led to a forced transition rooted in panic.

Joe Biden was supposed to be a transitional president, the leader who got Trump out of the White House and who paved the way for a new candidate. He had a successful first two years in office.

He stabilized the economy, successfully led the country out of the COVID pandemic, got a historic piece of legislation passed in the Bi-partisan Infrastructure Bill, and kept the balance of power in congress in the mid-term elections when Democrats where projected to suffer significant loses.

That was two years ago, and party leaders should have committed to a transition then, but they didn’t.

They chose to keep Biden because he beat Trump handedly in 2020. They let the political pundits and left-leaning media create a narrative of “everything is anti-Trump” and forgot to message their own achievements. Being the anti-Trump party is not enough.

It’s about relatability, listening to the hard-working American public, and providing solutions to complex policy issues that will impact this country for generations to come. 

Republicans cannot say that they meet any of these points, and that’s what makes this even more frustrating. Trump and the Republican Party are so vulnerable on key issues like women’s reproductive rights, but President Biden’s performance yesterday couldn’t capitalize on any.

In fact, he provided the set-up for several of Trump’s jabs. Remember when Julian Castro was crucified for questioning Joe Biden’s cognizance? That doesn’t seem too far off now, does it?

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No longer excites voters

This election will not be won by swaying undecided voters, or “the deciders” as the media has conveniently dubbed them. I pondered at a news commentary that stated: “this election will be decided by 6 percent of voters in six states”. I disagree. This election will be decided by the “get out the vote” or GOTV efforts of each party, nobody is changing their vote.

Yes, the swing states will decide this election, but not the undecided voters. Democrats can overcome any trend in swing voting patterns by having a strong showing at the polls, and that just got more complicated.

The democratic party already has issues losing support with important voter bases like Latinos and Black voters, and this version of Joe Biden is not exciting them to turn out.

“A vote for Biden is a vote for Harris”. That’s brilliant messaging by the Republican Party. It strikes right at the heart of an unspoken issue that Democrats don’t want to talk about – Vice President Kamala Harris’ dismal public approval numbers.

As reported by Newsweek, in May 2024 only 38 por ciento of voters approved of her. After the 2022 mid-term elections many democratic voters expressed concerns that she would be the next President if Joe Biden were to die; but party leaders still looked at Joe Biden as capable of beating Donald Trump. That impression was quickly shattered at yesterday’s debate.

With the Democratic Convention just a few weeks away, it will be a critical moment for the future of the party for generations to come. Control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, appointments to the Supreme Court and gubernatorial races are now in jeopardy.

Who is going to want to campaign next to Biden now? He just become a liability.

The stakes are too high not to make a change, but democrats are now in a lose-lose situation. They can’t win if they push forward with a Biden-Harris, and any other candidate won’t have enough time to establish their own platform and national brand. They would just be viewed as the “good enough” ticket.

quienes son donald trump y joe biden los candidatos a la presidencia de Estados Unidos
(justasc/Adobe Stock/MIT SMR México)
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Foto perfil de George I. Gonzalez
George I. Gonzalez Fundador de la firma Complex Made Simple. Experto en comunicaciones de política pública y comentarista Fundador de Complex Made Simple y experto en comunicaciones politicas y corporativas. Originario de CDMX. Fue designado de la Casa Blanca y subsecretario de prensa de desarrollo urbano y vivienda. También fue gerente de comunicaciones de política pública de Facebook en Washington D.C.
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