Columnist argues Biden should do the 'unthinkable' and replace Harris on 2024 ticket

 March 23, 2023

President Joe Biden will likely formally announce his re-election campaign in the coming weeks, and that has reignited the persistent question over the past year or so of whether or not he should replace Vice President Kamala Harris as his running mate on the 2024 ticket.

Such a move has been dismissed as "unthinkable" by some due to the risk of backlash from the Democratic Party base, but an argument has been made that the potential political benefits from doing so could outweigh the possible downsides, according to an op-ed from Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby.

Should Biden replace Harris?

In his article, Jacoby first pointed to the slew of articles over the past year or so, primarily from mainstream Democratic sources, about Biden replacing Harris -- which, of course, has been dismissed as idle "political chatter" by Harris, who insists that she will run for re-election alongside Biden in 2024.

The columnist also took note of the VP's consistently dismal job approval numbers, the myriad media stories about her being a poor boss overseeing a toxic work environment, and her tendency to utter meaningless word salads and laughter at inappropriate moments in speeches and interviews as all working against her, not to mention the fact that "in the arena of public policy and legislation, her achievements have been close to nonexistent."

He further noted Harris' absolute failure of a 2020 presidential campaign that ended before a single primary ballot was cast, as well as that she was quite clearly a "diversity" pick for Biden -- she is the first black and Southeast Asian woman to hold the VP's office -- much more so than being chosen for any real accomplishments.

Pros and cons

The multiple minority status of Vice President Harris, and the fact that black and women voters would like by furious if she was dropped from the 2024 ticket, has been the primary rebuttal against calls for change, and while that certainly is a legitimate risk, the Globe's Jacoby suggested it could be mitigated by Biden choosing from any of several indisputably more talented and qualified black women as a replacement for Harris.

Setting aside that "potential political downside" to ousting Harris, the columnist concluded that "the potential upside is arguably greater," and proceeded to explain why.

Biden would free himself and his administration from the albatross of a vice president to whom most Americans have not warmed up. Shaking up his ticket would be a demonstration of impressive decisiveness even amid delicate circumstances. It would reassure voters of the president’s ability, notwithstanding his age, to chart a new course when the old one has gone awry. And it would prepare Democrats for a presidential campaign in which unusual scrutiny will be focused on their party’s vice presidential nominee.

Jacoby concluded that "conventional wisdom" would suggest that it is a "fantasy" to even think about replacing Harris, "But if Biden wants to be reelected, this might be the time to cast conventional wisdom aside."

Same discussion, different conclusion

The Boston Globe's Jacoby is not the only one giving serious thought to President Biden replacing Vice President Harris on the 2024 ticket, as just weeks ago left-leaning The Week's Harold Maass similarly considered the question of whether Harris was an "asset" or a "liability" for the Democratic Party ahead of the next election.

Many of the same points were raised for and against replacing Harris, and Maass ultimately concluded that the knocks against her were exaggerated, that she didn't get enough credit for what she has contributed to the administration thus far, and that the president should stick with her and allow her the chance to more effectively prove herself in a second term.

Likewise, The Conversation raised the same discussion in early March and took stock of the ample reasons why Biden should ditch Harris but, again, suggested that doing so could prove too politically costly with the Democratic base and instead argued that Biden might benefit most from keeping her around.

Biden and Harris "tethered together" for 2024

That may be closer to reality, as Reuters reported this week that all signs indicate that Biden and Harris are "tethered together" for a 2024 run, despite his occasional "frustrations" with her and the fact that her job approval numbers are consistently even lower than his own paltry approval figures with the American public.

The outlet noted that "The first woman vice president is gearing up for another national campaign despite low poll ratings, a failure to win over the Washington establishment, and concern among fellow Democrats about an underwhelming start in the job."

Both Biden and Harris have been insistent that they intend to seek re-election together, and though no formal announcement has been made as of yet, it is widely expected that their 2024 campaign will be officially launched within the next few weeks or months.

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