Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 22, 2024

It's too late to fix the Democratic Party's mistakes

By BUSE KOLDAS | December 7, 2023

640px-biden-harris-sign-with-trump-pence-sign-in-background-in-aitkin-minnesota-50501244931

LORIE SHAULL / CC BY-SA 2.0

Koldas highlights the difficulty with Biden’s re-election, including his age.  

Ever since President Joe Biden confirmed that he would be running for president in the 2024 elections to seek a second term in office, one question has unified the American population more successfully than any Thanksgiving dinner could have: Isn’t he too old to be the president?

The answer is yes, but because of the Democratic Party’s mishandling of the election preparations, Biden is now the only viable option against former President Donald Trump, even though Biden’s chances of winning seem slim in contrast to the 2020 elections. Despite criticism from voters, the majority of the key figures in the Democratic Party seem loyal to Biden and are ready to support him. It is not like there are (or will be) any other considerable options. As of now, it is unrealistic to expect Biden to be challenged by any other candidate, considering the limited time the Democratic Party has left.

I’ve been critical of how the Democratic party handled this situation. Well before the election came into serious discussion, Biden’s health problems due to old age have been impacting his public image, blatantly threatening the Democrats’ victory in 2024.

Even a little foresight would reveal the need to find alternative candidates for the upcoming elections, train them accordingly and market them to voters early on. The Democratic Party failed to do this, and they are now stuck with Biden.

Now that the Democrats’ candidate is (almost) confirmed, eyes are on the Republicans. At this point, I don’t even think there's a point in arguing that the 2024 Republican nominee will likely be Trump. 

Trump’s runner-up has been Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, since his November 2022 Florida gubernatorial election win and his May 2023 presidential campaign announcement. Though he used to be one of Trump’s defenders, his intentions to run for president have since distanced the two. However, polls show that former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley might be pushing DeSantis from first to second runner-up. Haley announced her campaign before DeSantis, as early as February 2023. If she could somehow overcome the Trump barrier, Haley would become the first woman and first non-White Republican nominee.

No matter how impressive the accomplishments of Trump’s rivals are, they don’t have the same hold on Republicans as Trump does. As an idolized figure,  the confirmation of Trump as the Republican presidential nominee looks painfully evident. While recognizing that we can never know what the future is going to bring, I no longer debate other possibilities for the Republican candidate. What I am looking forward to learning is who’s going to be Trump’s running mate.

It is hard to guess what Trump is conspiring, but the primary quality he is going to search for in a running mate is going to be courage — someone who will not be afraid to support him when he is at his worst. The list of people who have betrayed him in the past is long, including his own Former Vice President Mike Pence following the January 2021 Capitol attack. Some name Haley as a potential running mate. Though she is one of the best options, given her career at the United Nations, she is not a vocal supporter of Trump and intends to run for the presidency. One could argue this was a strategic play to display her influence and thereby increase her chances of becoming his running mate. But, then why would she spew in harsh remarks targeting Trump and call his work “chaos”?

For now, it is almost impossible to tell who Trump will bring to his side, yet there is one thing I can say for certain regarding the 2024 elections: If a miracle allowing the Democratic Party to reverse their mistake doesn’t occur, Biden will lose against Trump, regressing from his win in 2020.

Biden is on thin ice when it comes to his public perception. Even something as normal as tripping and falling cost Biden wide criticism and lack of confidence in his capability as the U.S. president. 

However, it is necessary to acknowledge the common trend that country leaders lose approval ratings following their election, as neither the economy nor political conflicts are capable of being fixed within a term as short as four years. As voters don’t see immediate shifts following the inauguration of a new president, they start to gain sympathy for other candidates. Voters may begin believing that those other candidates are where the solution lies and lose interest in the leader they so fanatically bolstered in the past.

Though how this situation turned out is the Democratic Party’s fault, now they do not have any other option than to endorse Biden. At the end of the day, he is the only Democratic presidential candidate who beat Trump in an election. Though I do not think Biden will be able to defeat Trump in the 2024 elections, I predict that he has a higher chance of winning than Dean Phillips or Marianne Williamson, who were the other two leading figures considered by the party for the election. I wish the Democratic Party had begun to back up one of these candidates earlier on and convinced Biden to retire, but now it is too late to launch a whole new candidate so abruptly and expect the public to support them immediately. Even though we might not like it, Biden is the Democrats’ best shot.

My only desire is to witness a single U.S. election where we actually discuss who the best candidate is, instead of which candidate is less horrible than their counterpart. Let’s hope that the 2028 elections will turn out that way, preferably with younger candidates eager to represent the opinions of the younger generations and to “finish the job.”

Buse Koldas is a freshman majoring in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from Istanbul, Turkey.


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