Will the Democrats turn to Bernie Sanders in 2024?: Most of the speculation about President Joe Biden potentially not running for reelection centers on his age, as he is the first over 80 president in American history. But if he doesn’t run, might the Democrats turn to a man even older than Biden like Bernie Sanders?
President Joseph Biden is the oldest president in history, having turned 80 last year. Even so, Biden is expected to announce sometime this spring that he is running for a second term. He said last month that he’s not ready to formally announce a decision, most reporting has indicated that he indeed plans to seek a second term as president.
But what if he doesn’t? That would likely set off a free-for-all in the Democratic nominating contest. A column this week suggested that the next Democratic candidate could be a familiar face – one of the few figures in politics who is older than Biden.
Enter Bernie Sanders
Juan Williams, a columnist for The Hill, suggested that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could be the best choice if Biden doesn’t run.
Williams cited a Reuters/Ipsos poll showing that Sanders drew the second-most support among Democrats, behind only Biden. The president was the choice of 35 percent of Democrats, followed by Sanders with 13 percent, Vice President Kamala Harris with 12 percent, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg with 10 percent.
Sanders ran for president in 2016 and 2020, showing more strength than expected both times, although he ultimately fell short. But he appealed very much to young voters- who, as Williams noted, are the same demographic that is most skeptical of another Biden run.
Sure, Sanders is 81 years old and will be 83 on Election Day in 2024. Also, he has been clear that he will not make a third run for president if Biden runs again. However, one top adviser said in December that if Biden does not run, he thinks Sanders will take “a hard look.”
“I don’t want to make the judgment for him. Obviously, it would be his choice to make. But I assume that he would want to reevaluate it,” Faiz Shakir, a top adviser to Sanders in the 2020 race, told CBS News.
“As a journalist who watched Sanders’ rallies and debate performances, I can testify that he fires up a crowd better than Biden, Bill Clinton, or any other Democrat of recent vintage, except for the rock-star appearances of President Obama,” Williams wrote about Sanders.
If Biden were to announce that he’s not running for re-election, the idea of Sanders running and emerging as the consensus choice of the Democratic establishment is very implausible.
The Age Drama
Not only are the same questions about Biden’s age also applicable to Bernie Sanders, but there was significant resistance inside the party, during both of his presidential runs, to the idea of the Democratic Socialist Vermont senator becoming the party’s standard bearer.
In 2020, candidates Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar both dropped out of the race in early March and endorsed Biden, in a way that coalesced the rest of the party in opposition to Sanders’ candidacy.
In the event of Biden deciding not to run, a large group of candidates would enter the race, and it would look something like the Democratic contest for the presidency in 2020.
Sanders recently released a book called “It’s Okay to Be Angry About Capitalism,” and has been making media appearances to tout it. This week, Sanders blamed Trump-era deregulation policies for the recent bank collapses.
“If there is a bailout of Silicon Valley Bank, it must be 100 percent financed by Wall Street and large financial institutions,” the Senator said. “We cannot continue down the road of more socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else. Let us have the courage to stand up to Wall Street, repeal the disastrous 2018 bank deregulation law, break up too big to fail banks and address the needs of working families, not the risky bets of vulture capitalists.”
Williams also argued that Bernie Sanders sounds like someone who’s a candidate.
“Despite Trump-inspired GOP fantasies, Sanders is not interested in dividing the Democrats,” Williams wrote. “But if Biden doesn’t run, you can bet Sanders will take a third run at the White House. And he might win.”
Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.