Home » ‘What we’ve been saying all along’: where do critical voters stand on Biden dropping out? | US elections 2024

‘What we’ve been saying all along’: where do critical voters stand on Biden dropping out? | US elections 2024

by John Jefferson
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Concerns about Joe Biden’s fitness for re-election on the left may have been muted over the last year. But they were not absent.

“There’s a lot of people, especially on the left, that have been talking about this,” said Alex Johnson, an IT worker in Atlanta.

Democrats in the center of the party would chastise critics on the left as ageist or radical when bringing up the president’s age before the disastrous debate, he said. “They’re telling everybody that they were crazy. And then one thing happened, and all of a sudden, all of the people who have been calling progressives crazy, they’re like: ‘You know, maybe they were right.’”

Biden has repeatedly reiterated that he will not withdraw from the race. Democratic party leaders are locking arms behind the president, instructing their ranks to be circumspect in conversation with news reporters and are strategizing ahead of the Democratic national convention.

The conversation about Biden’s fitness ratcheted up after his debate performance last month. But they did not begin then, even among Democrats. Editorials from David Ignatius at the Washington Post and Mark Leibovich at the Atlantic last year called for Biden to refrain from running. Cenk Uygur, progressive co-creator of The Young Turks program, wanted Biden to give up re-election for more than a year and has been more than vocal about it, describing Biden’s supporters on the left as dead-enders.

“At this point, eight out of 10 Americans think that Joe Biden’s mental health is not sufficient to be president,” Uygur said. “That’s what we’ve been saying all along. That number was already sky high before the debate.”

Uygur has been arguing that it’s more than Biden’s age; no president with poll numbers in the 30s at this point in the election cycle has won re-election. Uygur tried to run as a candidate himself, despite being born in Istanbul – a constitutional disqualification for the office – simply to make the point.

Karl Olson in St Louis Park, Minnesota, generally votes for Republican candidates. In 2020, “to save democracy”, Olson made the maximum possible legal contribution to the Biden campaign, he said. He voted for Biden in 2020, but has been calling for Biden not to run for re-election for years.

He voted for Nikki Haley in the 2024 primary. Now he is considering a vote for Trump.

“I have long held that [Biden] should quit while he’s ahead,” Olson said. “I have concluded that if the Democrats insist on re-nominating Biden and Harris, they deserve to lose.”

“Here’s the thing,” he added. “If Donald Trump is a political antichrist who will destroy democracy, then why are Democrats insisting on re-nominating Biden-Harris when he’s too old and she’s not enough of a leader to win?”

Much of the anger today is being directed at the media, both for ignoring the substance of concerns about Biden’s age before the debate, and now the seeming pile on after it.

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The headlines may be overdue, said Blue Tannery, a radio engineer in Atlanta. But they are not helpful.

“The age thing in particular; yes it’s an important problem. I’m really, really, really sick of seeing headlines about it,” Tannery said. The one thing that Biden said that makes any sense: you should all shut up about how old that I am and start talking about what I’ve done over the last four years.”

Tannery said he had wanted Biden not to run, but also said the standard the media applies to Biden is unfair. “This is eight years of being in this country, watching Trump just open his mouth onstage and exhale a horde of locusts and the headline is about Biden,” Tannery said. “Because that’s what Trump does every time. That’s not news anymore. It is exhausting.”

Samantha Ruddy, a comedy writer in Philadelphia, may be typical of reluctant Biden voters. She’s still voting for Biden. But now she also thinks he’s going to lose.

“I have wanted Democratic candidates more politically aligned to Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders during the past two election cycles,” Ruddy said. “In 2020, I felt Biden was better than Trump. I still feel he’s better than Trump. However, I don’t think he can win in 2024. I believe the best move is to replace him on the ticket. That being said – much like Donald Trump – I’m an entertainer who looked at the eclipse, so what do I know?”

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