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The idea of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object is intriguing to consider—yet the 2024 Democratic primary contest is likely to feature the indescribable opposite: a battle of weak players.
That President Joe Biden will win Democrat Party’s nomination again and govern for four more years is a fiction found only within Washington, D.C., with the believability of that fable falling off the further one gets from the White House. Yet it is a lie that many force themselves to swallow lest Biden become a lame duck before his time.
With team Biden not likely to make a concession to the harsh truth of cognitive decline—remember, these are the people who think Senators John Fetterman and Dianne Feinstein should be on the job—the operative Democrat nomination timeline will be thrown into doubt and shortened. This places a premium on the few Democrats with name ID who can raise money.
That means Hillary Clinton, who would be 77 on Election Day, might give it another try, but only if Biden formally declines the opportunity to run again.
Regardless of Biden’s announced intent, the race will likely see the entrance of California Governor Gavin Newsom. Newsom, now 55, just won his second and last term in 2022, meaning he’ll have a free ride to run in 2024 but risks a slide into irrelevancy if he waits until 2028.
Gavin Newsom’s practice of politics is a near-perfect example of the modern, performative variety where words smother deeds, intent overrides results, and theatrics overcomes virtue—if, by virtue, one means the excellence of wisdom, bravery, justice, moderation, and piety.
As his state was being battered by a series of winter storms that killed dozens, including many who were snowed in, Newsom popped down to Mexico for a week on Baja’s beaches only to return with a tan and COVID-19. The domestic corporate media were predictably uninterested in Newsom’s dereliction of duty, leaving most of the reporting to Fox News and British tabloids.
But leftwing news’ reflexive deferential coverage of fellow traveling politicians does neither camp any favor. It only leads to a flabby entitlement that results in shabby, ill-thought schemes designed to net emotive votes in exchange for billions of dollars.
California may think it’s saving the world from climate change—but it now has the highest energy costs outside of Hawaii, it’s lost population for three years running, and is host to half of the nation’s street homeless. But hey, Newsom just banned Walgreens from doing business with the state government because of the company’s business practices in other states.
Even with a weak Democrat bench, Biden’s team, sizing up the potential competition, craftily rejiggered the party’s nomination timeline, demoting Iowa and diluting New Hampshire, with their white progressive primary electorates, and elevating South Carolina, Nevada, Georgia, and Michigan. South Carolina saved Biden’s 2020 nomination with 61 percent of Black Democrat voters backing Biden compared to only 17 percent for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
South Carolina presents a difficult obstacle for Newsom. Of the ten most-populous states, California has the lowest proportion of Black residents. And, as California’s economy has shed manufacturing while the cost of living, especially housing and energy, has soared, African-Americans have left the state for better opportunities elsewhere. California’s non-Hispanic Black population declined by two percent from 2010 to 2020, the third-greatest decline among the states after Alaska and Illinois. By comparison, the Black population grew by 19 percent in Texas, almost 10 percent in Florida, and six percent nationally. In 2020, California’s Black population was less than half of the national average.
Further, it would be hard to find a Democrat candidate for president who exemplified “white privilege” more than Newsom—though the same can be said for the Newsom’s two Democrat predecessors in the governor’s office: Jerry Brown and Gray Davis. Brown was the son of a two-term governor while Davis was the grandson of an oilman who pocketed millions selling oil to Nazi Germany. Newsom himself is tightly connected by marriage, politics, and government contracts to Jerry Brown, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and the billionaire Getty family.
Even with Newsom’s flaws, he could come back from poor showing in South Carolina when the Democrats hold dual primaries in Nevada and New Hampshire on the same day. Newsom should do well in these states with next door Nevada’s strong union base and New Hampshire’s elite white liberal vote. If Newsom could hold on until Super Tuesday, he might have a shot at dethroning Biden with strong showings in California and in Texas, where Newsom went all-in to help Beto O’Rourke in his unsuccessful campaign against Republican Governor Greg Abbott last year.
California’s Gavin Newsom, vapid and entitled, might be the Democrats’ only opportunity to replace an increasingly mentally vacant Biden on the 2024 Democratic ticket.