Despite Washington, D.C.’s August heat and humidity — perfect vacation weather — the nation’s capital is immersed in politics.
A thorny two-part question consumes political insiders. The first part asks whether President Biden should run for re-election in 2024. And if the answer is no, the consensus response among nervous Democrats, the follow-up question is who’s the best candidate to replace him?
Apprehensive Democrats want Biden to step aside gracefully, but the president’s choice may be to go for a second term. Biden has repeatedly said that he’ll run because his party wants him to. Time will tell whether Democrats convert their cautiously anti-Biden rhetoric into action by launching primary challenges.
Since 1980, serious Republican and Democratic presidential challengers have failed — Ronald Reagan vs. Gerald Ford, Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter and Pat Buchanan vs. George H.W. Bush. The most important takeaway from the failed primary efforts is that incumbents Ford, Carter and Bush #41 lost their general elections. Unless Biden voluntarily retires, the only course left open to Democrats is to force him out, an ugly scene that would hurt the party.
Assuming the party either puts Biden out to pasture or he bows out graciously, who will replace him? As of today, the polls have identified California Gov. Gavin Newsom as the leading candidate, predictably outpacing Vice President Kamala Harris. But before Democrats rush to embrace Newsom, they’d be well advised to vet him vis-à-vis the national electorate.
If voters are tired of privileged, elitist government, then the multimillionaire Newsom, who cavorts with billionaires, will have a hard time appealing to the working class. Billionaires were the major donors to Newsom’s gubernatorial campaigns.
More important than Newsom’s donor base, however, are his politics. Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison should ask Newson for a preview of his campaign platform. For sure, Newsom’s stump speeches won’t include lines like this: “With your vote, I can convert America into 49 more California’s.”
Typically, candidates for high office point to their successes, and run on those accomplishments. In Newsom’s case, his feats fall into the negative column. For starters, California has the country’s lowest literacy rate. Only one in four Californians over age 15 can read and understand a simple sentence. Newsom’s open border’s advocacy contributes to sanctuary state California where 220 languages are spoken, and 44% of residents speak a language other than English at home. Seven million Californians cannot speak English well.
Math isn’t much better. About 40% of California’s public school students are proficient, but that pathetic ratio is explained away because math has been designated as racist, and its study is now based on critical race theory. And nothing is golden about the state’s income and sales taxes, which rank with the nation’s highest.
Newsom also ordered the first statewide COVID lockdown. Three protestors on a San Diego beach were arrested for violating Newsom’s stay-at-home edict.
In addition, California is third in per capita homelessness, behind Hawaii and New York. Median rent is $1,600 monthly, and homes sell for a median $538,500. Violent crime has spiked so high that the annual crime data’s publication is well overdue.
In fairness, though, Newsom’s candidacy would have, from the DNC’s perspective, an upside. Billionaires’ deep pocket donations and Silicon Valley’s censorship would be in play. Newsom would start out with 74 electoral votes in his back pocket, California, Oregon and Washington, and another 49 leaning his way, Illinois and New York. Conditions in Illinois and New York, however, are changing fast — so quickly that Biden is underwater in both states.
Weary from Newsom’s gubernatorial failures, Californians are fleeing the state, which should warn presidential voters that, if nominated, the slick, coiffed Hollywood darling is the wrong choice to replace Biden in the White House.
(Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years.)