By Reed Galen
As I write this, we’re 411 days away from the November 2024 election. President Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee next year. PO1135809, aka Donald J. Trump, will be the Republican nominee. Could things change? Sure. And I could wake up tomorrow with a full head of hair; possible, but unlikely. For Democrats, America, and the world, Biden is the only choice and the best.
The Acela Corridor set (political, financial, media elites) is committing the double sin of denying that a 2020 rematch is in the offing while returning Trump to the mainstream as they (publicly) complain they don’t want President Biden to run again.
The level of magical thinking these folks engage in on the regular would make Joan Didion blush. Reality is smacking them in the face, and in response, they rock gently in the corner, hoping the whole thing will just work itself out.
That’s not how any of this works.
Biden is the only person to beat Trump straight up. He’s probably the only one who can again. Let’s look at the Republican primary field for a moment. Few of them have the desire to take on Trump directly. Even fewer have the ability. Fighting the orange monster is not politics as usual. Even most Democrats don’t get it. If I had to guess, there are a lot of sneering, snickering senior Democratic consultants who still see Trump as an idiot, a dolt, a man who can be beaten on policy.
In the immortal words of Charlie Murphy: “Wrong. Wrong.”
You can’t beat Trump on policy or anything otherwise considered normal in politics because he’s not a politician. He’s a walking lizard brain who only has two things on his mind: Maintaining his freedom and exacting revenge on his enemies.
As I’ve said, politicians play chess, and Trump eats the pieces. Biden and his campaign understand what they’re up against, weren’t snared in 2020 and won’t be next year, either. Trump wants and needs the reaction to the nicknames, the BS, often fictitious attacks (see post-partum abortion on Welker last week.)
Biden isn’t immune to all of it, but he is far less susceptible than many because a) he’s been through it before and b) they’ve brought the fight to his doorstep, and staring down bullies is among his best traits. No, Biden isn’t going to be a porcine carnival barker. He won’t dance to YMCA or delight crowds with demented gibberish. He won’t go toe-to-toe with Trump in antics and insults.
No, Joe Biden gets up every day and does his job. Think about the bizarre nature of our world, where elected leaders simply doing what’s required is considered boring or somehow insufficient for our direct-to-camera culture. Even rarer today is a politician who does what they say they’re going to do in a unifying way. Without division and discord, who will click the link? Biden has the luxury of not caring and often not needing to.
That Biden displays a sense of humor, is magnanimous, and can smile at absurdity while maintaining his resolve drives MAGA to distraction. For Trump to win next year, Republicans must make Biden as bad as Trump. They must make America look as bad they believe it is to have any hope of victory. In short, MAGA must crush America’s collective self-esteem to beat Biden, and will stop at nothing in the attempt.
Next year’s General Election isn’t like 2016. It isn’t like 2020. The next 13 or so months will be unlike anything we’ve experienced since 1860. This isn’t a fight about Republicans against Democrats. It’s not liberals vs. conservatives. The frames we use for the fight we’re in are insufficient for the moment or the scale of the battle to come. President Joe Biden doesn’t just represent his party or the country in the office he holds.
In 2024, Biden represents a stark choice: Will his reelection offer Americans stability and decency as we chart our path forward, or will his defeat lead us into a new epoch, the darkness of which only some of us can imagine but none of us are yet prepared for?
In that context, Joe Biden’s reelection is not the best choice. It’s the only choice.