QUIGLEY: It’s Time To Step Aside, Mr. President

Submitted by Dan Quigley, Former Chairman of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee

For months, Americans have been resigned to the fact that they are stuck with two largely unfavorable and particularly old candidates for President. The rematch between an unpopular former President and an unpopular incumbent have left a significant number of voters on both sides dissatisfied with their choices. For months the race had been mired in a state of inertia with polls reflecting a statistical dead heat.

However, last Thursday night, that all changed.

President Biden’s disastrous debate performance was a catalytic event that should serve as the impetus for Democrats to replace him as their party’s nominee for President.

This process would be unprecedented, complicated and likely chaotic. But there is simply too much at stake to continue with the present course. The ominous threat posed by a second Trump term and the undeniable decline in Mr. Biden’s physical and cognitive abilities warrant whatever political risk that might accompany taking this drastic but necessary step.

National Democrats have made this campaign about saving our democracy from Mr. Trump, a twice impeached and recently convicted felon whose authoritarian tendencies, proclivity to distort the truth and vows of exacting retribution upon his enemies warrant an extraordinary counter effort in order to prevent his reascension to power.

However, as the campaign has developed, it has become increasingly clear to most honest observers that Mr. Biden is not up to the task. To quote a classic song, Mr. Biden’s physical decline is evident with every step he takes and every move he makes. Instead of disproving Republican contentions of his cognitive decline his catastrophic debate performance bolstered them, and in the process vaporized his already miniscule margin for error.

Every President has one eye on their legacy. By making the decision to step aside and putting his country ahead of party and personal ambition, Mr. Biden would ensure that his legacy would rest on solid ground with this final, selfless gesture. If stepping aside were to lead to a second defeat of Mr. Trump it would forever cement his place in history in the eyes of many Americans.

This leaves nominating a viable replacement as the essential next step in this important process. The Democrats have a deep bench of candidates from which to choose. Some are more problematic than others. Among the best options are Michigan Governor Gretchan Whitmer and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, both of whom are young and popular governors in crucially important battleground states. A Whitmer/Shapiro ticket could generate the type of excitement that President Biden is simply incapable of producing. It would also likely attract critically important Independent and Undecided voters as well as disenfranchised Republicans who will not vote for Mr. Trump and who are have grave concerns about the President’s physical and cognitive ability.

It is also worth noting that President Biden has never had a contingent of loyal “Biden followers” within his own party in the way that Bill Clinton or Barack Obama did. In 2020, then candidate Biden became the nominee because he was considered the “least problematic” Democratic candidate. He was deemed palatable to progressive Democrats and inoffensive to moderates. But words like “inoffensive” and “palatable” do not conjur the type of adoration shown for his two Democratic predecessors. This absence of enthusiasm is no longer a tolerable problem. Last weeks debate should serve as the impetus for Democrats to change the narrative of the President’s struggling campaign by giving voters something they have been pining for. Someone new and different who will inspire them.

JFK’s “New Frontier”; Reagan’s “Morning in America”; Clinton’s “Bridge to the 21st Century”; George W. Bush’s “Compassionate Conservatism”; and Obama’s “Yes we can!” – all shared something in common. Each were successful election campaign slogans that centered around a positive vision of America’s future. In stark contrast, Mr. Trump has chosen to run a campaign based on the bleak theme that America is a “third world country” in perpetual decline, whose borders are being invaded by criminals and terrorists and whose streets are a cesspool of lawlessness. Despite the preposterousnous of these claims, President Biden is trailing in the polls and has been an ineffective messenger, incapable of presenting himself convincingly as an attractive alternative to voters. This is understandable. It is unfair to expect that a diminished, 82year old Mr. Biden can effectively communicate an uplifting vision of a better and brighter future when his own future seems unlikely to get better or brighter. Only a younger, more energetic candidate can do this with the vigor that is necessary to defeat Mr. Trump.

I am a lifelong Republican, and I will not be voting for Mr. Trump. But millions of Americans will. To avoid a second, more destructive Trump administration and in order to reinvigorate the Democratic and anti-Trump voter bases, it is now apparent that the best course of action is for President Biden to withdraw his name as a candidate for the presidency and to pledge his considerable campaign organization and resources to support a younger, more capable candidate.

Recently, several of his most reliable supporters including the New Yorker and New York Times editorial boards have urged that he step aside. Sadly, more influential Democrats have been unwilling to acknowledge the obvious and have stubbornly doubled down on behalf Mr. Biden’s candidacy. If this campaign is truly a battle whose outcome will determine the fate of our democracy then the greatest risks do not lie in the uncertainties surrounding the messy process of finding a new candidate to replace the President. Instead, the most dangerous risks are those associated with the continued complacency of the Democratic Party leadership and the President’s own delusional overconfidence in his ability to win.

In a recent interview, MAGA thought leader Steve Bannon described the movement as such; “We’re not reasonable. We’re unreasonable because we’re fighting for a republic. And we’re never going to be reasonable until we get what we achieve. We’re not looking to compromise. We’re looking to win.”. A CBS/YouGov poll conducted in the days following the debate found that 72% of those polled “do not believe Joe Biden has the mental or cognitive health to serve as president”.

Let that sink in for a moment.

If Democrats remain content heading into battle with an 82-year old Joe Biden leading the charge, it will be the greatest example of political malpractice in American history. A continuation down this path will only result in failure and the losers will be the American people.

Dan Quigley
Former Chairman of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee