A Joe Biden and Donald Trump rematch is just not appealing to many Americans.
What if they hold their noses and refuse to vote for those two and then do the unexpected?
They could stay home but many frustrated people may vote for a third party candidate and scramble the final election results. Now there is a new challenger who wishes to shake up the establishment.
You may not have heard of Cornel West, but he is an outspoken and articulate professor who has been a go-to quotable person on race and poverty for decades and a true legend in progressive circles that is widely respected. West wants to sneak into the White House with an upset win.
However, if his candidacy gets off the ground he could cost Joe Biden the race instead.
Who Is Cornel West?
West is a prolific author and commentator on philosophy who became a public intellectual early in his career. He is one of the first pundits journalists interview whenever ugly racism crops up in the country.
West is now running for president under the banner of the People’s Party – a group that is dedicated to peace and social justice for under-served populations. This party believes everyone has the right to healthcare, housing, and quality education.
The provocative and loquacious scholar announced his candidacy June 5. “I am running for truth and justice as a presidential candidate for the People’s Party to reintroduce America to the best of itself – fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for all!”
West is no fan of Republicans and Democrats. He thinks most members of the political class in Washington are corrupt to the core and beholden to special interests who have sold out ordinary Americans for years. He wants to clean up Wall Street, the Pentagon, and Big Tech.
Why He Will Have Trouble
Like all third-party candidates, West faces an uphill battle for the presidency. The People’s Party is not well-known and will have to petition 47 states as it is only on the ballot in three states. A “No Labels” party is also expected to field a presidential candidate. This party styles itself as a moderate, common sense, solutions-oriented group.
Both the People’s Party, who could appeal to socialists and other disaffected progressives, and No Labels, which occupies the lane for centrists upset with gridlock from both parties, could steal votes from Biden.
Some Minorities are Skeptical of Biden
West is liable to attract a respectable number of African-American and Hispanic voters to his cause. Kayleigh McEnany, a commentator for Fox News, said that “Biden gave these, you know, well-woven mannequin-like talking points to the Black community and the Latino community and people bought into it and then he failed them. I mean, when you have 34 percent of Black voters saying that Biden’s delivered – only 34 percent?! That is ridiculously low for a president that needs Black voters.”
West is articulate and thoughtful when it comes to relations with minorities. He speaks to the wounds that have not completely healed since the unrest after the George Floyd murder in 2020. He may have to introduce himself to younger voters who are not familiar with his work, but when these political neophytes listen to what he has to say, they may be impressed.
Little Chance for a Debate
Unfortunately for West, he is not going to take the debate stage against Biden. The Democratic National Committee has already stated that they will entertain zero debates during the Democratic primary. West will have to depend on earned media as he has little experience fundraising and has no donor network. He would need a substantial budget to target potential voters who have never heard of him.
Despite the mountain he must climb, West is an intriguing candidate. As a fellow academic, I have much respect for his scholarship and his 20 books. He is authentic and could draw people who flocked to Senator Bernie Sanders’ previous campaigns for president. Ballot access is a problem, but if he could build up a national list of volunteers, they could help him garner the signatures and pass other administrative requirements so people can vote for him in 2024.
The People’s Party has a message that caters to the people who have been left behind in the Biden economy. They may be the ones who have no savings, no credit, and no jobs. If they are employed, they may have second or even third jobs to make ends meet.
Economic justice is likely the issue that would most resonate with the voters who are mad at the country. Thus, West and his party have much work to do, but he could garner one to two percent of the total vote in a close race, that could be the undoing for Biden.
Author Expertise and Experience
Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.