On Friday’s edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, the host discussed the 2024 election with Democratic strategist Paul Begala and CNN political contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson. Maher contended that the Democratic Party has no one in the wings should President Joe Biden opt not to run again.
Joe Biden was described as the party’s plan A, B, and C.
It is a sentiment shared by many political insiders, even as the majority of Democratic voters would like to see someone else run. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found that while 78% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents approved of the job Biden has done as president, 58% of them wanted a different candidate next year.
By all indications, he believes he’s the guy – and there is no backup plan at this point.
Joe Biden and Lessons From History
Nearly a century ago President Calvin Coolidge opted to retire after just one full term. Having ascended to the presidency after the death of President Warren Harding in 1923, Coolidge went on to easily win re-election in 1924. Feeling he had done enough, he opted to retire.
Four decades later, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson also became president following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Like Coolidge, Johnson decided against a run for a second full term — a moment described as a “Pearl Harbor in Politics.”
What is notable is that Coolidge would have barely lived out that second term, had he contested and won it, and Johnson would have died in office. Coolidge was 60, while Johnson was 64.
Biden is already 80 years old and would be 86 when he finishes a second term. The question is what will happen if Biden decides he is too old and opts to pass the torch to the next generation, which is what voters increasingly seem to want?
The other lesson from history is that Coolidge didn’t particularly care for his successor, Herbert Hoover, whom he derided as boastful and even described as “Wonder Boy.” Later, Coolidge told a colleague that Hoover “has offered me unsolicited advice every day for six years, all of it bad.”
Perhaps that is the other lesson from history. Biden rarely takes advice. He likely sees any of it as unsolicited and all of it as bad.
But there is yet another lesson — Johnson waited far too long to decide not to run for re-election, and threw the Democrats into turmoil when he announced that he wouldn’t seek or accept the nomination. The situation was different. Johnson’s approval had been strong until the Tet Offensive in Vietnam tanked his approval, and it was clear there would be a battle for the nomination.
Biden’s approval tanked after the flawed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the rise in inflation during the pandemic, but Joe Biden would face no serious primary challenge.
Instead, he could face a serious battle in the general election, which is why those in his own party want another nominee. Democrats increasingly view Joe Biden as the guy who gives the Republicans the best chance of taking back the White House.
In other words, for Democrats, the best solution is for that torch to be passed to the next generation.
BONUS: Kamala Harris Should Quit
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.