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Democrats Flee A Ship Named Democracy

by John Jefferson
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Under President Joe Biden’s leadership, the Democrats have cast the presidential election as a fight for democracy.

How fitting then that a critical mass of Democrats are now contemplating jettisoning Biden, the winner of all the Democratic primaries, as the nominee and replacing him with someone who did not run and received as few as zero votes. All because they fear he will lose a democratic election in four months to former President Donald Trump.

Biden himself professes to be upset that the Supreme Court made it more likely that the voters determine Trump’s fitness to serve another term rather than another court proceeding, despite saying that the events of Jan. 6, 2021 were apparent to anyone watching.

Now Biden himself could be denied an opportunity to face the voters by the same Democratic bigwigs who helped clear the primary field for him, if they can persuade him to drop out or incite a big enough mutiny among the Democratic convention delegates, more than 90 percent of whom are committed to him. The runner-up in the Democratic primaries was “uncommitted.”

The modern primary process is a relatively recent phenomenon, to be sure. Plenty of great presidents, from George Washington to Dwight Eisenhower, preceded it. But none of them were pushing for the abolition of the Electoral College, the legislative filibuster, or the Senate itself on democratic grounds, as can be said of many Democrats pushing for a return to the smoke-filled room.

If Democrats have their druthers, they would also dislodge Vice President Kamala Harris, who at least won the 2020 election alongside Biden, and replace her with a swing state-friendly ticket. But James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus grandee who rescued Biden’s candidacy four years ago, has already signaled that is a nonstarter. It is not clear that anyone else could directly inherit and control Biden’s campaign cash, which is imperative now that Trump has picked up the fundraising pace.

As Democrats try to gently escort Biden into the good night now that he has apparently outlived his usefulness, leaked polling data from the Democratic firm OpenLabs purportedly shows Trump leading in the battlegrounds and gaining ground rapidly in the toss-up and heretofore reach states. This is consistent with what the post-debate national polling is showing and would endanger down-ballot Democrats.

Thus the Democrats are starting to flee the sinking ship. For the good of democracy, of course. Which suddenly might be fine after all! 

“Donald Trump is going to win. And I’m OK with that,” Trump-district Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) wrote in a remarkable op-ed. “Unlike Biden and many others, I refuse to participate in a campaign to scare voters with the idea that Trump will end our democratic system.”

Democrats lost Golden’s district, good for one electoral vote, in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. Polls now show Biden could possibly lose e statewide. 

In the days leading up to the Biden debate disaster that suddenly made presidential decrepitude noticeable in polite company again, Democrats were focused on their other core issue for the 2024 election: the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, handed down two years ago.

The court’s majority decided that abortion policy should be decided democratically rather than by judicial fiat for the first time in nearly a half century, without imposing its own preferences on the whole country. The Democrats’ anti-Dobbs fervor sits uneasily alongside their democracy push. 

Of course, you can object to human rights issues being settled by majority vote, whether nationally or in the states, even if we disagree about the precise human rights question at stake. The Supreme Court’s junking of Chevron deference is really primarily about restoring power to the elected legislative branch that had gradually been taken by unelected bureaucrats.

As was the case with Dobbs, it is not always clear that the legislators will use this power wisely or that Republicans in particular are prepared to grapple with all the thorny issues involved. But it is their duty and one of the reasons Congress has devolved into a clown show in the first place is that for the rank-and-file, lawmaking is now a secondary concern to lawmaking.

The Constitution gives them better things to do.

It’s true that there is more to a free and democratic society, much less a constitutional republic, than conducting elections. We learned that, or at least should have, with the folly of Iraq and Hamas’ participation in that supposed tidal wave of democracy in Gaza during that time period.

But non-Democrats can be forgiven for wondering if the party’s commitment to the small-d variety is contingent upon the outcome.

As one Joe Biden once put it, “You can’t love your country only when you win.”

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