Democratic leadership is alienating voters and has to go

The opinions expressed in The Lawrentian are those of the students, faculty and community members who wrote them. The Lawrentian does not endorse any opinions piece except for the staff editorial, which represents a majority of the editorial board. The Lawrentian welcomes everyone to submit their own opinions. For the full editorial policy and parameters for submitting articles, please refer to the about section.

Joe Biden has been president for almost two years now and his presidency has mostly a series of defeats and disappointments: since he was elected, the only major promise he has kept is that “nothing will fundamentally change,” and it’s become clear that Biden doesn’t care that much about his agenda. In fact, it often seems that progressive Democrats fight for Biden’s agenda more than he does.  

Former President Donald Trump has hinted that he will be running in 2024. He or fascistic Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are both potential frontrunners, and I believe that Biden will lose if he runs for reelection. Furthermore, I don’t have confidence that Vice President Kamala Harris will be able to win a general election either. I believe that, if they care about the future of the party, Biden and Harris should both step aside before the 2024 presidential election. Unfortunately, Biden appears poised to run for a second term.  

When Biden defeated Trump in 2020, it happened, in my opinion because Trump bungled the government’s response to COVID-19. Biden was a weak candidate who defeated the worst and least qualified president in recent history by only 7 million votes. Biden’s conservative, pro-corporate vision for the country is unpopular in the Democratic party base, especially among young people. In a New York Times/Siena College poll, around 95% of young Democrats do not want Biden to run for reelection. Pursuing this agenda is dangerous because young people are key to the party’s success, especially going into the future, when a lot of the party’s older voters will age out of the voting bloc. And frankly, corporate-friendly, self-obsessed politicians fresh off the assembly line like Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and California Governor Gavin Newsom, while younger than Biden, represent the same failed Democratic Party agenda.  

Democrats cannot continue to rely on the coming rise in fascism to compensate for their unwillingness to pursue the agenda of the future. This model is doomed to fail because it relies on figures like Trump and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene serving as bogeymen to drive fundraising. This strategy is often referred to as the “pied piper strategy”, popularized by former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) who was re-elected in a conservative state by elevating the candidacy of former Representative Todd Akin (R-MO), who made the biologically false claim that a “legitimate” rape cannot result in a pregnancy. The Democratic Party in 2016 similarly pursued this strategy by elevating Trump to the nomination. Despite the drastic consequences of this failure, the Democratic Party tried this again in 2018 and again intervened in 2022 to elevate State Representative Doug Mastriano (R-PA) in his campaign for governor. Mastriano, an active participant in the pro-Trump riots on January 6, 2021, is now surging in the polls, although his opponent maintains a consistent lead. On Aug. 2, 2022, Trump-backed John Gibbs defeated Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI) after the DCCC ran ads elevating his candidacy. Pursuing this path, while occasionally successful, will harm both the Democratic Party and the country. Democrats need to have a strong agenda that appeals to their base, because relying on sufficient fear of the other candidate is a wholly unsustainable model.  

Our generation has witnessed the Democratic Party insult us repeatedly every time we try to get involved. The party was extremely hostile to Bernie Sanders, the candidate of young voters, both times he ran for president. We witnessed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) fly to South Texas to help an anti-choice incumbent House Democrat defeat a progressive challenger. We also witnessed Democrats singing “God Bless America” on the Capitol steps and demanding donations after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. The party establishment has also repeatedly taken aim at progressives in Congress, including condemning Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for speaking up for Palestinian rights, while saying nothing about anti-choice congressmen in their ranks.  

At the same time, Democratic establishment figures have the audacity to become angry when young people aren’t thrilled about voting for them. Democrats clearly don’t expect consequences for this, and believe young voters, afraid of Republicans, will vote for them forever. Their luck is about to run out. The party’s hostility to its base and refusal to challenge the fascist party in any meaningful way will be the nail in its coffin. They cannot rely on our energy to drive turnout while marginalizing our ideas, our candidates and our hopes and dreams.  

If Democrats want to win in 2024, they should tell Pelosi, Clyburn, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the rest of the party leadership to step down from their leadership roles and ask Biden and Harris to not run for reelection. I don’t know who else should run in 2024, but Biden and Harris are a liability. Democrats can decide to function more as a fundraising apparatus than a political party, but this will almost certainly lead to people, especially young, nonwhite, working class and queer people, to abandon the party. Without us, the Democratic Party will not win an election, and without us they don’t deserve to. 

A concluding note. This article was drafted before the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and Biden’s recent plan to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt, pardoning those incarcerated in federal prisons for cannabis “offenses”, as well as his strong rhetoric against the Republican Party. It’s important to note that the Inflation Reduction Act, while being a good piece of legislation, is inadequate, and many of the best parts of the legislation were shepherded through by Sanders. Additionally, the student loan debt forgiveness, which is now being partially rolled back, was pushed for by progressives like Omar, and the pardons, while important, are extremely limited in scope. Although these stories complicate my argument, I stand by it. Biden should still step aside. However, if he doesn’t, which is likely, he should focus on actions like these if he wants to get reelected.