Will Biden Take the Democratic Party Down With Him in November?

One of the biggest worries of Democrats at the state and local level is that Joe Biden’s refusal to leave the race will doom their candidates to defeat. 

It’s a strategy known as “mutually assured destruction.” The harder they try to get rid of Biden, the more entrenched he becomes. And he won’t care who goes down with him in November.

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Consider recent history. In a letter to congressional Democrats on Monday, Biden warned, “The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end.” 

And in a telephone interview on “Morning Joe,” Biden was even more combative. “If any of these guys think I shouldn’t run, run against me — go ahead, announce for president,” he said. “Challenge me at the convention.”

All of this points to the hesitation we’re now seeing on Capitol Hill and among prominent Democrats. You take a shot at the king, don’t miss. And that’s likely to be enough to keep Biden in office. And even if they succeed in running him out of the race, they will be responsible for whatever bad happens to the party in November.

Donald Trump plays hardball politics better than anyone in the game today. That’s because when he threatens retaliation, he follows through on it. What about Biden?

Semafor:

Biden’s threat is similar in effect, but functionally different. He doesn’t command a rabid army of supporters to weaponize against opponents like Trump (though Democrats are watching for signs of pro-Biden backlash), and he’s the definition of an institutionalist and insider, not an anti-establishment rebel who could leave his party behind if he wanted to.

What Biden can do is be stubborn in a way that sets up a scenario of mutually assured destruction for Democrats. So long as opponents of his nomination believe it’s impossible to force him to step aside, any escalation of their criticism risks damaging him even further in November. And the worse his standing gets, the more his party is likely to suffer up and down the ballot.

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Indeed, Biden has the pledged delegates at the convention who will be glad to vote for his nomination. And if they don’t, they can be replaced with alternates. As long as Biden sticks it out and refuses to cede his position, he will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2024.

At what price to the party?

Some Democrats may think that rolling the dice with another candidate may be preferable to going down to certain defeat with Biden.

It’s not a very appetizing prospect. If Biden really is willing to fight a Democratic civil war, it would mean heading into convention season with key chunks of the party on the record with doubts about their nominee and pro-Biden factions accusing them of sabotage, all while Republicans quietly sit back and munch popcorn. Biden has been working hard to line up support from Black Democrats and labor — Congressional Black Caucus Chair Steven Horsford backed Biden Monday — setting up a potentially uncomfortable race and class dynamic to the fight as well.

Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) asked Democrats in a statement released on Monday not to criticize Biden or the old MAD doctrine will become operational and everyone will lose.

“Regardless of where one stands on the question of President Biden’s political future, the intra-party mixed messaging strikes me as deeply self-destructive,” he said. “Those publicly calling on President Biden to withdraw should ask themselves a simple question: what if the President becomes the Democratic nominee? The drip, drip, drip of public statements of no confidence only serve to weaken a President who has been weakened not only by the debate but also by the debate about the debate.”

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I prefer my popcorn “heart healthy.”

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