Why Joe Biden’s best chance is Donald Trump

Many forget that Donald Trump is not much younger than Joe Biden.

Many forget that Donald Trump is not much younger than Joe Biden. Photo: Getty


It’s always wise to be careful what you wish for. If Donald Trump is kicked off so many state primary tickets that he can’t run for President in November, the United States is more likely to be run by the Trump Party with a ruthless agenda.

For the US – and therefore Australia, its lockstep AUKUS ally – this is the most dangerous political year since the Civil War as the increasingly fascist-sounding Trump squares off against the politically fading Joe Biden.

Yet there is a question we barely hear asked that is as important as the usual “can Biden beat Trump?”

And that is: Can Biden beat anyone other than Trump?

The answer to that question seems to be “no”. Biden’s best chance of winning a second term is fighting the election against Trump, not anyone else.

That best chance is based on the prospect of the criminal, erratic, misogynist, lying, thuggish, fascist-tending Trump motivating enough people to make the effort to vote against him. Take away the Trump disgust and fear factor, the Republicans win against the uninspiring Biden.

A turnout election

The nature of the 2024 election was neatly summed up by a CNN commentator: This will be a turnout election, not a persuasion election.

The comment came in light of Michelle Obama saying she was terrified about what could happen at this election. Among the things she listed as worrying her was: “Are people going to vote, and why aren’t people voting?”

There’s no persuading people between Trump and Biden – everyone knows what each stands for. It’s a matter of which side “gets out to vote”.

The rabid Trump base will certainly vote. Should Donald Trump be unable to run for one reason or another, it is still Trump’s party as far as the base is concerned, a base paranoid about the Democratic Party and the Deep State conspiracies.

On top of that, there are traditional, relatively rational conservatives who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump but would support any other Republican candidate.

The biggest factor though is 81-year-old Joe Biden having negligible pull in his own right.

Biden gets little-to-no credit for the strength of the US economy and low unemployment. Instead, the idea that he is too old for the job has stuck fast.

On top of that, his unswerving support for Israel is reportedly costing him younger voters, and dealing with America’s immigration crisis will lessen traditional Hispanic Democrat support.

Biden lacks pulling power

Such is Biden’s lack of pulling power that even with the threat of the Trump II horror show (“He’s back and angrier than ever – this time, everybody pays”), he is lagging in key polls.

Take away the bogeyman figure and there’s less urgency for voluntary American voters on a November Tuesday to make the effort for an uninspiring Democrat.

What’s often overlooked is that despite his efforts over four years as president, Trump picked up 10 million more votes in 2020 than he had in 2016. The difference was that Biden scored 12.6 million more votes than Hillary Clinton did and did so in the right states.

Senator Clinton suffered in 2016 from a poor campaign and failing to energise many traditional Democratic voters.

The danger of the Republican candidate being anyone but Trump was brought home to me by three Australians recently returned from expat life in the US. They were unanimous in judging Trump to be Biden’s best chance, both because of traditional Republicans returning to the GOP fold and the lack of the bogeyman factor to scare people into voting for Biden.

All were happy to leave the US, the way it is heading.

Various polls are showing Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor, as having a clear margin over Biden if they went head to head – but first she would have to get past Trump who has an apparent stranglehold on the Republican nomination if he’s allowed to stand.

Nikki Haley was twice governor of South Carolina. Photo: Getty

Birther slur

Haley is doing well enough to attract Trump’s attention – he has resurrected the birther slur tactic he used against Barack Obama, this time posting on social media that Haley’s Indian migrant parents not being US citizens at the time of her birth would disqualify her.  It is, unsurprisingly, just another Trump lie, but lies work well for Trump.

The November US election might seem a long way away. It’s not – primary voting starts in Iowa on Monday, New Hampshire the following week and Nevada and South Carolina next month.

Former US political staffer Bruce Wolpe wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald that if Trump sweeps those four states, the nomination race is over and the Republicans will have lost their best chance of defeating Biden by rejecting Haley.

The stage would then be set for the battle of the old white men, Trump is only four years younger than Biden.

Greatest gerontocracy

Irish writer Fintan O’Toole noted in the New York Review this week that the US has taken over from the Catholic Church as being the world’s greatest gerontocracy.

“It is quite a thought that if Joe Biden were a Catholic bishop, he would have been required to submit his resignation to the Pope five years ago,” wrote O’Toole. “If he were a cardinal, he would, when he turned 80 in November 2022, have lost his right to vote in the conclave that will choose the next pope. These rules were introduced in 1970 in a papal instruction titled ‘Ingravescentem Aetatem’—Growing Old.”

In 2014, the US elected the oldest Congress in its history. The record did not last long: It was broken in 2016. And then again in 2018. And yet again in 2020, when—remarkably—the majority of the incumbents who lost their seats were replaced by someone even older.

In the 2022 midterms, the House did become slightly younger (the mean age of representatives dropped by a year, from 59 to 58), but the mean age of senators continued to rise and is now over 65.

“The baby boomers who sang along with Bob Dylan when he warned, ‘Senators, congressmen/Please heed the call/Don’t stand in the doorway/Don’t block up the hall,’ now linger in the lobbies.”

No, US politics is not inspiring – yet we have surrendered our defence sovereignty to that increasingly unstable place.

Topics: Donald Trump
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