If Trump Is Such a 'Danger to Democracy,' Why Hasn't Biden Withdrawn?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

There's a massive disconnect in the Democratic Party between the notions that Joe Biden is fit to be president and Donald Trump is a danger to the survival of American liberty.


The two theses are incompatible. If you believe Trump is the next coming of Hitler, how can Democrats stand by and allow him to win in November? All signs point to a Trump victory — if one can extrapolate trends from now until November. And the trends are, without a doubt, positive for Trump.

Biden is clearly faltering, and the window to replace him on the ticket is closing fast. But Democrats are fearful of admitting that Biden is fading both physically and mentally. They can't replace him without a bloody party war between the crazy left and the mainstream left. Biden leaving the ticket any way except feet first would probably result in a convention brawl the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1912 Republican Convention, when incumbent President William Howard Taft outlasted former president Theodore Roosevelt, that fractured the party and led to the election of Woodrow Wilson.

It's a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" scenario for Democrats and it will probably cost them the election.

Hence, the intense battle to kick Trump off the ballot in as many states as possible.

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Damon Linker is a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Pennsylvania and a Soros-backed Open Society Project senior fellow at the Niskanen Center. He has an op-ed in the Influential magazine The Atlantic calling for the Democrats to do something quickly to replace Biden.


Whatever the source of this problem, Biden is putting his self-regard ahead of the good of the country. As a result, both he and his party are badly undermining the most compelling rationale of the 2024 campaign, which is the need to do everything possible to prevent Trump from returning to the White House. If the prospect of a second Trump term really poses a dangerous threat to American democracy, why is the Democratic Party depending on an incumbent president with an approval number lower than Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, or even Trump himself were facing at the equivalent moment before their failed reelection bids?

It's the point I've been making for months. If Democrats see Trump as a massive threat to America, why are they running an 80-year-old doddering fool who we now know has frequent, devastating memory issues as well as physical infirmities that make his continuation in office problematic?

Democrats are not serious about Trump being an existential threat to America. If they were, they'd put aside their petty partisan concerns and get rid of Biden as president. There are plenty of other candidates. Kamala Harris might squirm about being passed over, but she's got to understand the dire political situation of the Democrats. They can't replace Biden with someone even less popular.


Democrats are either going to have to stop pretending that Trump is a threat to America or go all-in on trying to defeat him. That means convincing Biden to leave and putting up someone else who can win.

What sort of process would lead to Biden's withdrawal from the race?

For starters, every major figure in the party prevailing on Biden to drop out. That can be done behind the scenes at first, out of respect for the president. But if he refuses to budge, then it will be time for embarrassing leaks to the press. I would like to think that Biden will see the only way to preserve his reputation, record, and self-respect as announcing, somewhat as Lyndon B. Johnson did in March 1968, that he’s withdrawing from the race. Biden should also announce that the delegates he’s won up to that point in the primaries will be freed up at the August convention to throw in behind whichever candidate seems best positioned to beat Trump.

There's been some suggesting that Biden should wait until the convention to drop out. That's not feasible given that the convention dynamic would probably throw up the most radical liberal on the floor. There are activists who want to establish a left-wing Utopia in America. Think California on steroids. Not going to happen.


Biden still has time to announce his withdrawal from the race and recommend his replacement. If he recommends Harris, Trump may as well start picking his cabinet. That's why I think it will be a Midwestern governor or senator like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer or Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, or someone outside of the Washington Beltway.

It should be noted that the uproar over Biden's mental decline is not going to die down. It will only get worse. And the longer Biden waits, the harder it will be for him to leave the race.


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