On Nov. 7, 2020, conservative news outlet Fox News became the latest of a growing number of networks to project Joe Biden to win the presidential election. The election has not been legally called, and amid widespread allegations of voter fraud in counties across several key states, including but not limited to Wisconsin and Michigan, the Trump campaign is waging a legal battle to perform recounts and audits. As that goes on, however, Joe Biden is unofficially being recognized as President-elect.
Once he was projected as the victor of the election, Biden reiterated a promise he initially made after his nomination by the DNC to “unite and heal” the nation coming off of a tumultuous period between the political Right and Left. This period was marked by widespread protest, some of which culminated into violent riots totaling billions in damages and dozens of deaths across the past five months following the immensely controversial death of George Floyd. For many, it was an incredibly attractive promise. However, mere days after he began to be projected as the victor, subtle signs are already showing that devalue this promise.
The Democratic National Convention was incredibly divided during the 2020 primaries, more so than at any time in recent memory. During the rise of the more progressive sect of the Democratic Party, separating from mainstream policy and a perceived Democratic “Establishment,” ideals such as democratic socialism, the Green New Deal, universal Medicare and others that utilize broader government power than the norm have entered the discussion. This has created tension within the Democratic Party, where candidates such as Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg who more closely align with Obama-era policies came face to face with candidates from this newer chapter of the Left, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Many followers of this new Left view Biden as being a “moderate Republican,” and those who have supported Biden as an anti-Trump vote are making it increasingly clear they still vehemently disagree with his platforms.
And in light of President Trump vastly outperforming predictions from a wide variety of pollsters, currently holding 47.7% of the popular vote according to the Associated Press, many from the perceived “Establishment” of the Democratic Party are directing blame towards the more “progressive” Democrats for this unprecedentedly close performance. They are citing reasons such as President Trump’s gains among a plethora of minority demographics and college-educated voters from 2016, as well as Biden outperforming progressive politicians in their own districts, such as how he won 15 more points than progressive Representative Ilhan Omar in Minnesota’s fifth district. Potential Biden cabinet member John Kasich asserted on CNN that “if [Democrats] had been more clear in rejecting the hard Left they would have appealed more to Americans …. who live in the middle,” and that the hard Left “almost cost [Biden] the election.” This elicited rebuttal from the likes of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who asserted on Twitter that it was the further Left who delivered key states such as Ohio in the election, and implored her followers not to “take these people seriously.”
With a growing divide within the Democratic Party, Biden’s mission to appease the mass protests, as well as associated riots across the nation, may prove more difficult than initially appreciated.
There is also a reasonable question as to whether or not Biden — should he be declared the victor — will pursue a second term in 2024. Turning 78 this month, he would be the oldest president ever inaugurated, and should he achieve a second term, his presidency would extend until he is 86 years old, nine years above the record set by Ronald Reagan, who left office at 77. Biden has stated that one of the reasons he chose Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate is that she’s “capable of [being] president because I’m an old guy,” and that he believes she could immediately take over office should he be unable to serve. Many have speculated that Biden intends to serve a one-term presidency and to pass the reigns to Kamala Harris in 2024.
Harris, though she may run with the status of Vice President, faced crushing competition in the Democratic primaries, falling into the low single-digits of polls according to RealClearPolitics at the time she opted to drop out of the race on Dec. 5, 2019. At this point, she was closely rivaled by Andrew Yang, and well surpassed by the likes of Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, and her last numbers were soon overwhelmingly surpassed by even controversial candidate Michael Bloomberg.
With the growing divisions in the Democratic Party and the prospect of a vulnerable Harris campaign at the helm of the presidency, people Right, Left and center are already considering how to replace Joe Biden, many viewing his campaign as a placeholder before he even takes office. Perhaps despite all of this, he could succeed in appealing to the progressive Left, moderate Democrats and the political Right to the point that he can restore national unity, but with all the immediate obstacles in his path, there are more than a few doubts.