Democrats appraise weak 2024 bench as concerns linger over Biden

Beneath all their boasting about the red wave that wasn’t, Democrats remain concerned about their ability to defend the White House in 2024 with an aging, unpopular president at the helm. 

Unfortunately for them, the party has a weak bench with few fresh faces. The top names: Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, ran against Biden in the 2020 primary and lost.

These people again?

Harris is even more unpopular than Biden, and she is widely seen as a laughingstock. Her philosophical word salad is barely more coherent than Biden on an average day. Still, she is commonly rated as the second most popular choice for Democrats in primary polls.

Buttigieg, the NPR-friendly shiny object of the 2020 Dem primary, may have reached his peak as a functionary in the Biden White House, but he continues to be discussed in earnest by talking heads.

His tenure as Transportation Secretary has been far from impressive: amidst a supply chain crisis, Buttigieg has focused his attention on ripping up “racist” highways.

There’s also Bernie Sanders, the socialist patriarch who nearly defeated Biden in the 2020 primary before kissing the ring, but he’s even older than Biden and there’s a feeling that his moment has passed.

Some have floated Gretchen Whitmer, who won re-election despite placing her state’s residents under house arrest at the height of COVID. Whitmer also has union ties that may help Democrats in the Rust Belt region, which includes critical swing states, Michigan among them.

Governor Hair Gel, Fetterman considered

Overshadowing these familiar faces is California guv Gavin Newsom, whose sleazy brand of muscular, take-no-prisoners progressivism has solidified California’s reputation as a one-party state.

Newsom defeated a recall last year and has been unafraid to go toe-to-toe with Republican rising stars like Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fl.) The California governor’s ambition is about a subtle as his hair gel. He certainly appears to be worth watching at the very least.

Much further afield, some particularly vacuous voices on the left — or are they prophetic? — have suggested that Pennsylvania’s severely disabled senator-elect John Fetterman may represent the party’s future. It would certainly be a logical next step after four years of Biden.

The president, who turned 80 on Sunday, has continued to equivocate on whether he will run again in 2024, acknowledging that “fate” may intervene. But “Sleepy Joe” took the country by surprise in 2020 when he swept Super Tuesday and solidified the support of his party’s establishment, going on to win, at least officially, 81 million votes.

All of the 2024 speculation overlooks a depressing possibility: might Biden be the best option the Democrats have?