Back in 2016, the Democrats waited until after the election to blame their candidate’s failed presidential campaign on Russia. But this year, they’re wasting no time. With fewer than 200 days to go until Election Day, many of them, like former Missouri Sen, Claire McCaskill, have all but dubbed Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, a Libertarian, as the reason their candidate, Joe Biden, will lose.
He’s not; Democrats just need a better candidate.
On April 28, Mr. Amash announced that he was launching an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president. Within minutes, Democrats began responding to the announcement on Twitter, asserting that Mr. Amash’s entrance would cost Mr. Biden the election. The underlying idea is that enough potential Biden voters will instead cast their ballot for Mr. Amash, preventing the former vice president from securing enough votes to win the election.
If Democrats believe Mr. Biden can’t earn enough votes to win the election, then their problem isn’t Mr. Amash. If their candidate lacks widespread voter appeal and electability, then the Democratic Party will lose the 2020 presidential election, and they’ll lose it for the same reason they lost in 2016. Namely, they settled for a flawed candidate who couldn’t earn enough votes on his or her own merit.
Mr. Biden may be the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, but he is still the guy who trailed other candidates for the first three primaries. Back in February, Mr. Biden’s campaign was essentially pronounced dead. Democrats seriously questioned Mr. Biden’s character, legislative history and his mental health capacity, while Republicans questioned his morality by alleging Mr. Biden pressured Ukraine to fire Viktor Shokin to protect his son from an investigation. The former vice president failed miserably in the first three nominating contests and was even out-fundraised as of January by a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Of course, once it became clear that Mr. Biden was the only thing standing between the Democratic Party and a Bernie Sanders nomination, things quickly changed course. Many Democrats were suddenly willing to accept a flawed candidate about whom they had serious concerns. For them, the only thing worse than a Biden nomination was a Sanders nomination. They believed Mr. Sanders’ radical agenda would cost them congressional seats. With no other perceived choice, the votes, delegates and endorsements rolled in for Mr. Biden.
Mr. Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8, making Mr. Biden the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party. Mr. Biden was unable to earn enough votes solely on his platform, policies and merit to win the nomination, but he did once he was perceived to be the only choice or the lesser of two evils.
Being the alternative to a divisive candidate worked well for Mr. Biden in the primary, which is likely why the Democrats are employing that same strategy with their “Vote Blue No Matter Who” mantra. The campaign doubles down on the fact that Mr. Biden is the only option if voters don’t want four more years of President Trump, urging voters to overlook some fatal flaws in their candidate.
Mr. Biden even started facing serious sexual assault allegations from a former staff assistant to his office, Tara Reade. By April, seven women had come forward accusing Mr. Biden of inappropriate touching. Still, the party that once was the platform for the #MeToo movement dismissed calls for an independent investigation of the sexual assault claims made against their presumptive nominee and continued stumping for him.
But that could all change if a third-party challenger like Mr. Amash enters the race. Mr. Biden will no longer be the automatic heir to the anti-Trump votes, which means he’ll have to convince voters to cast their ballots for him, not just against Mr. Trump. Instead of relying on “the other guy” status for votes, the former vice president will have to earn votes of his own accord, and he’s not very good at that.
Of course, it’s unclear at this point if the Democratic Party will win the election, but if they lose, it won’t be because of Mr. Amash or any other third-party challenger; it’ll be because they knowingly nominated a flawed candidate with voter appeal and electability issues. Democrats ignored their concerns with Mr. Biden’s character and legislative record. They saw him struggle to earn the votes of their party and get out-fundraised. They heard the sexual assault and inappropriate touching allegations against him. They’re going to nominate him anyway.
If Mr. Biden loses the election, it should serve as an overdue wakeup call to the Democratic Party. It cannot keep nominating bad candidates and expect to get enough votes to win.
• Lindsay Marie is a political columnist, commentator and Young Voices contributor. You can find her on Twitter @LindsayMarieLP.
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