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Joe Must Go

Joe Must Go


As so many others have expressed, within a minute into the ill-named “debate,” I knew it was a certain train wreck. Biden looked like so many old men I observe going into a restaurant, for example, slack-jawed and confused – even before looking at the menu. Unlike the spin doctors who claimed that his performance improved over time, I found that generosity preposterous.

His energy rose slightly only when he traded 2nd grade taunts. “You’re the worst president ever!” “No, you’re the worst president ever!” “Your son’s a felon!” “You’re a felon and had sex with a porn star!” “I didn’t have sex with a porn star!” “Everything you said is a lie!” “No, everything you said was a lie!”

It feels odd to criticize Biden without lambasting Trump. His sociopathy was on flagrant display, but it is a measure of the near-panic over Biden’s performance to acknowledge that Trump “won” the thing, whatever the thing was. And this is the state of the union.

The actual debate playing out on many fronts is over the possible replacement of Biden on the Democratic ticket. A plurality, at least, of pundits falls on the Joe Must Go side. Those who feel they must dance with he who brung them, no matter that “he” is well past dancing days, feign great enthusiasm while showing clips of Biden’s next day rally, where he appeared revitalized and energetic. Of course he was reinvigorated by the comfort of a teleprompter and only needing to stay on his feet, not think on them.

While columns and comments on the New York Times website are not an infallible barometer, the Joe Must Go sentiments were near-unanimous, accompanied by the requisite and deserved praise for his service, yadda, yadda. Several doctors, or so claimed, suggested that his open mouth, stiff movements and slow cognition resembled early Parkinson’s. Perhaps not fair or accurate, but a damning assessment nonetheless.

Count me in the Joe Must Go camp. The stakes are far too high to defer to his incumbency, his pride or the complexity of changing horses mid-race, a task made both necessary and easier by the fact that the horse is barely moving. I believe it is inevitable anyway, so rip the bandaid off before it’s actually too late. My uneducated guess is that those close to him are waiting and hoping that the fury will fade. It will not.

It takes a simple pragmatic exercise to reinforce the wisdom of finding an alternative. There are plenty of decent options, each with a balance sheet of assets and liabilities. In this unique situation, the Dems must advance the candidate who best exemplifies moderatism and has the least number of disqualifying facets. My personal values range from progressive to radical, but this is no time to nominate a candidate based on the loftiest lefty ideals. We need someone who provides as few reasons to vote against as possible.

Now, consider this analysis.

* Most if not all MAGATs will not vote for Biden or anyone but Trump. Forget them.

* Nearly anyone, if not everyone, who plans to vote for Biden will also vote for my hypothetical alternative. Not a single Biden voter will choose Trump over a new option.

* Few of the many “neither” voters will be suddenly infatuated with Trump if Biden is gone. They may well get off the “neither” train when presented with an option that requires no nose-holding.

Those three points, in the aggregate, predict a slightly better outcome if Biden steps aside. There is no scenario in which another candidate does less well than Biden. While many, including me, think Biden has done as well as possible in many realms (except his damned enabling of Gazan near-genocide), his support is more about saving democracy than because he is charismatic or visionary.

And, while no other candidate can do worse, any other candidate can do better at prosecuting the case against a pathological, autocrat with the “morals of an alley cat.” (Joe’s one good jab in a fight he otherwise lost)

There is absolutely nothing to lose by replacing Biden before it’s too late. There is everything to lose if we don’t.


Steve Nelson
Steve Nelson is a retired educator, author, and newspaper columnist. He and his wife Wendy moved to Erie from Manhattan in 2017 to be near family. He was a serious violinist and athlete until a catastrophic mountain bike accident in 2020. He now specializes in gratitude and kindness.

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