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How to Accomplish a Biden Switcheroo

Photo by Geoffrey Sea
Photo by Geoffrey Sea

It’s been two days since the Great Debate between Senility and Venality. Both Biden and Trump proved that they are grossly unfit to serve as President of the United States. This was especially true of their few remarks about Israel and Gaza. Faced with a deluge of lies from his opponent, Biden told a lie of his own: “Netanyahu himself [has] endorsed the plan I put forward, endorsed the plan I put forward, which has three stages to it.” As Netanyahu has repeatedly emphasized, he has endorsed only stage one of the Biden plan, and does not agree to the latter stages that relate to a permanent peace, leaving Hamas in power. The contradictions in Biden’s months-long begging of Hamas to endorse its own destruction, while asking Israel to forfeit its number one war aim, now seem a natural product of Biden’s cerebral deterioration. That deranged floating pier has been a reflection of Joe Biden’s dementia.

But Israel supporters were shocked when the alternative candidate said clearly in the debate: “he [Biden] didn’t stop Israel.” What the heck did that mean? Did that mean that Trump would have stopped Israel? From doing what? Was Trump channeling some order from his friend Putin, whom Trump admitted to have spoken with during the Ukraine War? Or was Trump making a new appeal to his Jew-hating right-wing allies?

Overall, the debate fiasco left many US voters and friends, including the editorial board of the New York Times, concluding that these two men cannot remain our choices for the presidency. And since Trump can never be convinced to withdraw, that leaves pushing Biden into stepping down from the campaign. Can a switcheroo actually be accomplished?

Numerous articles have been rushed into print on this topic, but I find all of them misleading if not outright wrong. Virtually all of them paint the picture of a high-drama open or brokered Democratic Convention in Chicago, a scenario designed for media hype, but not a realistic possibility. If a nominee switch is accomplished, it will be highly managed. Not only is that possible, but I believe it has been planned for quite a while, even before the debate.

I was a Biden delegate for the 2020 Democratic Convention, which was held virtually due to COVID. I understand how Democratic Party rules work, and I think I know how things are about to unfold.

First, do not believe all of the denials coming from the Biden campaign. The campaign managers are not stupid people, and they full well understand what is coming, as devastating debate clips flood social media and polls already show that support has gone off a precipice. A Quinnipiac poll released one day before the debate showed Trump winning nationally by 6 points in a 5-way race (including minor-party candidates). The latest pre-debate poll of Michigan has Trump winning that crucial state by 4 ponts in a 2-way race, while a poll of Michigan last January showed Governor Gretchen Whitmer doing 10 points better than Biden against Trump. Post-debate, the polls will get a lot worse for Biden and whether he drops out will become not a choice.

However, Biden cannot drop out before the convention without incurring a host of legal and strategic problems. Before the convention, he cannot legally give his campaign funds to any other candidate. This would mean that any anointed substitute would be crippled. Such a move would also free all of Biden’s convention delegates to vote for whomever they want. Deep divisions would surface; the Tlaib faction would mobilize; and opportunists like California governor Gavin Newsom would deploy big money to woo delegates. Biden cannot allow this to happen. Therefore, he needs to stay in the race until the convention, and that is the charade now happening. Biden is sending many signals that he will drop out later, perhaps even including his debate performance, but he cannot drop out now. I see the Biden team warning of convention chaos if he drops out now; to me, the message is that he intends to wait until after the convention.

Once Biden becomes the nominee, dropping out is easy. He already has his excuse, and can simply say that he has reassessed his health situation. At that point, Kamala Harris would automatically become the nominee, but as her polling is even worse than Biden’s, she would almost certainly withdraw also, allowing the Democratic National Committee to fill both slots by a simple DNC vote. Meanwhile, both Biden and Harris will have endorsed a replacement ticket, a ticket that sells itself, led by Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan and vice chair of the DNC, with US Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey as her running mate. The Whitmer-Booker ticket would be young, vibrant, articulate, and sane. They would be immediately capable of inheriting all of the Biden-Harris campaign funds, and the entire nation would breathe a sigh of relief.

As I said, I think this is already the plan. It only requires that the Biden team lie about their intentions for seven weeks, but they have already proved their ability to lie about Biden’s mental state for a year or reportedly more.

There is an additional possible twist. A recognized hazard is that Gavin Newsom, who is widely despised both in his state and in Washington, lies waiting for an opportunity with lots of PAC money. The Twelfth Amendment of the US Constitution provides that the president and vice-president cannot be from the same state. Since Kamala Harris is also from California, this prevents Newsom from mounting any serious challenge for as long as Harris remains the vice-presidential presumptive nominee.

The next question is state deadlines for presidential electors to be listed on the general election ballot. There has been inattention to this crucial question. The great majority of states, about forty, have deadlines for naming the nominees that are after September 1, meaning that the drop-out and DNC substitution window would be be between the end of the Democratic Convention on August 22 and September 1, which is a sufficient window. A handful of deep-red states have set their deadlines before the Democratic National Convention, intending to deny the Democratic nominee ballot access. These states are Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Texas has set its deadline one day after the Democratic Convention on August 23. Given the gravity of the Democratic predicament, Democrats should ignore these states and use any denial of ballot access as an election issue.

There remain five problematic blue-state deadlines. Washington’s deadline is the final day of the convention, August 22; Minnesota’s deadline is August 26; and Oregon’s deadline is August 27. The Illinois deadline is two days following its state convention, which is set to correspond to the national convention since the national convention is in Chicago. The Illinois state party could easily move the date of its state convention. Similarly, the Michigan deadline is one business day after its state convention, which is currently set for August 24, but this date could easily be postponed, especially if Governor Whitmer is the new nominee. Another option for this group of states is to submit Joe Biden’s name as the nominee, but make it clear that the electors will vote for the substitute at the gatherings of the Electoral College in December. Technically, all voters are voting for elector slates, not for actual presidential candidates.

Thus, a post-convention substitution could work in obtaining an Electoral College majority, as long as the DNC makes the substitution official between August 22 and September 1. That’s precisely what I think the party leaders will do.

The Democratic Party is not a democratic party. I saw that in 2020, when the virtual convention was run as a highly-managed PR sham, with the same Biden machine in charge that is managing the 2024 convention. These people are party leaders that will never allow a free-for-all over the nomination. But too many people now know that Joe Biden cannot stand for election against Donald Trump. A switcheroo can be accomplished easily and cleanly with a DNC vote at the end of August. That’s plenty of time before November 5, and Biden’s own statements, admitting weaknesses, are consistent with him waiting until after the convention to step down.

A remaining matter is how the country will be run until January, with a president and Commander-in-Chief revealed as a few fiddles short of an orchestra. Republicans have called for invocation of the 25th Amendment, which would remove Biden from the presidency. Certainly, Biden should be extricated from decision-making on matters of war and peace; Hamas should no longer be allowed to play on Biden’s frail desperation for a ceasefire. That process may preempt the matter of the nomination.

About the Author
Geoffrey Sea is a writer and historian living in Appalachian Ohio, educated at Harvard and other such places. His blog explores the lineages that connect the Jewish people through language, learning, politics, history, and DNA.
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