Paul Simon told us “there must be 50 ways to leave your lover.” It’s also possible there’s 50 ways for Democrats to leave their president, Joe Biden. But I’m going to highlight only five of them.
A suspension intervention. An intervention is defined as “a motivating conversation that will hopefully convince an individual … that they need to get help.” If Democrats choose this path, several top party leaders could sit down with Biden and express their collective and considered opinion that he’s slipping mentally and physically, putting both the party and the country at risk, and needs to suspend his campaign.
Or as a variation of Simon’s lyrics might express it: “The problem is all inside your head, as we can see. The answer is easy if you take it logically. We’d like to help you in our struggle to be free.”
Biden has adamantly denied the criticisms. Of course, that’s a common response from people suffering from either addiction problems or mental decline. But the fact is that declining seniors can have good and bad moments, which is why the president can both know the date his son, Beau, died and yet not recall it on a given occasion.
The Democrats’ problem is that people see Biden increasingly struggling with his walking, focus, words and recall.
As with many interventions, Biden will probably deny and resist. But even if he and his wife don’t believe his age and mental acuity are a problem, the vast majority (86 percent in a new poll) of Americans do — and they’re the ones who vote.
Convince donors to defund. Political campaigns live and die by donations. There are many Democratic megadonors who give millions of dollars to candidates, political action committees and the Democratic Party. If a large number of those megadonors informed Biden that they were withholding their millions until he suspended his campaign, it would get his attention.
Biden might still raise millions of dollars from small donations, but cutting the megabucks would make it much harder to run a successful campaign.
Invoke the 25th Amendment. The 25th Amendment has gotten a lot of attention in the past few years. Democrats frequently promoted it as a way to oust then-President Donald Trump. It’s now being discussed as a way to remove Biden — either before or after the election.
Section 4 of the amendment allows the vice president and a majority of the principal officers (i.e., the Cabinet) to notify Congress “that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Whereupon the vice president becomes the acting president.
Section 4 has never been implemented, and this novel and untried action would likely be divisive and chaotic. But there is a real possibility it could be needed if Biden were reelected and continued to decline.
A Democratic convention showdown. To win the 2024 Democratic nomination in August, Biden must win a majority of the pledged delegates — 1,968 out of 3,933 — on the first ballot, according to Ballotpedia. If he fails, the convention goes to a second ballot, where superdelegates can vote. While it’s likely Biden will win the nomination, a strong resistance effort at the convention could prevent it. At that point it’s anybody’s guess who’d be chosen.
Kamala Harris would believe she deserves the nomination. But Democrats know that would likely lead to an electoral disaster. Of course, there are several eager Democrats waiting in the wings if called on. One of those is certainly NOT Michelle Obama.
Impeachment. If Biden wins the election and the mental decline continues, Congress might move to impeach him. If Republicans retain the House and win the Senate with a sizable majority — both are real possibilities — Congress could begin impeachment proceedings. It’s not a good option, but it might be the only one if a failing president refuses to step down.
This is a tough and delicate topic, which is why I close with an additional variation of Simon’s lyrics: “I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued. But I’ll repeat myself at the risk of being crude, there must be 50 (or at least five) ways to leave Joe Biden.”
Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on X@MerrillMatthews.
Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.