Kamala Harris Should Quit—So Joe Biden Can Retire | Opinion

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Newsweek 19.09.2023



Kamala Harris Should Quit—So Joe Biden Can Retire | Opinion


The Democrats  are stuck. President Joe Biden  remains unpopular, with two-thirds of Democrats believing him  too old to run again, while two-thirds of Americans  doubt his fitness for the job—yet Vice President Kamala Harris  is even less popular . And this while the Republican frontrunner, former President Donald Trump , continues to consolidate a 30-point lead against his closest rivals.


Democrats claim that defeating Trump is their top priority. If they mean it, they will act boldly: Kamala Harris should quit, so Joe Biden can retire nobly.


Most Americans dread a Biden-Trump rematch, and whichever party finds a fresh candidate to avoid this ordeal will improve its chances of winning the presidency. Yet the ongoing scourge of political correctness is preventing the supposedly people’s party from listening to the people. Why not trust them to pick vigorous new candidates strengthened by a robust open primary season?


Many Americans voted for Biden assuming he would serve only one term, especially given his advanced age. In December, 2019, just weeks after Biden’s 77th  birthday, the Biden camp leaked a story to Politico  that Biden was weighing a one-term vow, “with Biden himself signaling to aides that he would serve only a single term.” Moreover, “four people who regularly talk to Biden” deemed it “virtually inconceivable that he will run for reelection in 2024,” at 80 years of age.


In line with this thinking, Biden called himself “a transition candidate”  while searching for a running mate, The assumption being that voting for Biden was a one-term emergency fix to defeat Trump, jumpstart the economy, and transition away from COVID, but not a commitment to eight years of gerontocracy.


The narrative certainly helped neutralize the “age issue.” This wasn’t “ageism” but rather a legitimate to worry that Biden lacked the vigor for what many call the world’s hardest job.


Finding the right heir-apparent was critical to this implicit bargain with Biden’s voters, many of whom believed that four years of on-the-job-training and popularity building would tee-up Biden’s Veep for an easy 2024 victory. As former Senator of North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp aptly put it, the scramble  to become Biden’s running mate was akin to “auditioning to be the next leader of the Democratic Party .”


Alas, Biden chose poorly. Vice President Harris has been nothing short of a disaster.


No doubt, some criticism against Kamala Harris is sexist and racist. Being vice president is after all difficult. As the late Republican Senator John McCain  scoffed  amid speculation in 2004 that the Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry  might ask him to be his running mate, “I spent several years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, in the dark, fed with scraps. Do you think I want to do that all over again as Vice President….?”


But Harris has mostly earned her 54 percent  disapproval rating. Inarticulate and ineffective, she has done little to advance the administration’s goals or impress voters. While polls are mercurial, she fares worse than Biden one-on-one against Donald Trump.


If President Biden wants his Party to win, he should learn from his hero, Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR dropped his first Vice President John Nance Garner in 1940, then Garner’s replacement Henry Wallace in 1944. Roosevelt’s foresight made the more centrist and suitable Harry Truman president in 1945.


But Biden lacks Roosevelt’s maneuverability. In today’s identity-obsessed Democratic Party, dropping Harris risks triggering a divisive backlash which would certainly brand Biden as racist and sexist.


It’s unfortunate, because it’s becoming increasingly clear that there is only one way for the Democrats to beat Donald Trump in 2024, and it’s for Biden to step down—which means Harris must, too.


If Vice President Kamala Harris wants to save America from Donald Trump, she needs to save the Democrats from herself and Joe Biden. If she and Biden vow not to run again, their historical reputations will soar, along with Democratic optimism regarding November. Such audacity might also scare many Republicans  into reconsidering their self-destructive loyalty to Trump, which lost them the presidency in 2020, and the Senate  in 2020 and 2022.


Even amid the ongoing COVID-triggered “Great Resignation,” American culture usually disdains quitters, but our first president, George Washington , only enhanced his reputation by virtuously retiring after two terms. Imagine how beloved Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be by their allies in January 2025 if they go off into the sunset voluntarily, gallantly, keeping the White House Democratic.

And imagine if they don’t.


A Distinguished Scholar in North American History at McGill University currently living in Jerusalem, Gil Troy is an award-winning American presidential historian and a leading Zionist activist. He is, most recently, the editor of the new three-volume set, “Theodor Herzl: Zionist Writings,” the inaugural publication of The Library of the Jewish People ( www.theljp.org )  . Two years ago he co-authored with Natan Sharansky Never Alone: Prison, Politics and  My People,  was published by PublicAffairs of Hachette. Recently designated one of Algemeiner’s J-100, one of the top 100 people “positively influencing Jewish life,” Gil Troy is the author of  The Zionist Ideas , an update and expansion of Arthur Hertzberg’s classic anthology The Zionist Idea, published by the Jewish Publication Society and a 2019 National Jewish Book Award Finalist. 




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