Joe Biden, Oval Office, UAW Strike
President Joe Biden. Photo credit: The White House / Flickr (PD)

After calls for the president to drop out of the race, the Biden campaign wants to make this election about a binary choice. But that's how the country got into this mess in the first place.

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As Democrats continue to ponder whether they have any chance of beating Donald Trump with Joe Biden at the top of their ticket, and whether the frail president would hurt the chances of down-ballot candidates, his campaign is asking them the wrong questions.

Questions like these: When choosing between democracy and authoritarianism, which are you going to pick? Would you rather vote for a decent person or a mentally unstable crook on a revenge mission? What about deciding between being handed a winning lottery ticket or being beaten with a baseball in a smelly old sock?

The last one isn’t related to politics, but we threw it in with the others because it is equally easy to answer. For the record, if you chose authoritarianism, mentally unstable crook on a revenge mission, or being beaten with a baseball in a smelly old sock, you may want to reevaluate some things.

As Democrats head into a crucial week with regard to whether they can build enough momentum to get Biden to drop out, all of these seem to be no-brainers.

But they also have another thing in common: All of them are options that do not (yet) exist.

Yes, the November election will offer a choice between democracy and authoritarianism. Almost certainly, one crucial player will be a mentally unstable crook on a revenge mission trying to become president.

But it is not yet a choice between the president and Trump.

The Biden campaign and the president’s supporters want to portray this as an entirely binary choice: It’s either us or them. It’s democracy with Joe or tyranny with Don. It’s Powerball win or baseball sock.

But those are questions for November 5.

Right now, there are still other options.

The real questions Democrats have to ask themselves now, and answer quickly, are things like: Is this version of Joe Biden really our best bet (or our only chance) to defeat Trump? Do we have confidence in him to be a capable steward of the nation’s affairs through 2028? Going forward, do we have to change how we operate as a party?

These are much more difficult to answer… especially because the underlying truths are hard to accept.

For Biden’s team, not wanting to talk about them makes sense… because nothing good will come out of it for the president.

The only way for him to ensure that he stays at the top of the ticket is to convince Democrats that this all comes down to an unalienable binary choice between “Joe or else.”

It goes without saying that a lack of choices is how Democrats, and Americans in general, got to this place.

Biden is the nominee because there was, essentially no primary. If there had been a couple of other serious candidates, e.g., any of the party’s young governors, this would have become a real race.

That, in turn, would have allowed Democratic voters to choose between who represents them best and, in the process, make each person running a better candidate.

While this wasn’t offered as one of the dozen or so excuses from Biden’s campaign as to why he performed so poorly in the debate, the fact that he didn’t have to hone his skills in primary debates seems a lot more legitimate than jet lag or any of the explanations they offered.

And, if the choices this November were not Biden, Trump, and a guy who proudly proclaimed last week that he wouldn’t eat humans, polls would look very different right now.

Of course, if Biden does make way for another candidate, Democrats will stumble from one false choice to the next one because the establishment seems to assume that the only person who could possibly replace the president would be his Vice President Kamala Harris.

It defies belief that a party that curtails its voters’ choices to such an extreme extent would cast itself as a champion of democracy.


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a senior editor for Politics and director of the Mentor Apprentice Program at WhoWhatWhy. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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