Joe Biden Must Step Aside

It comes down to this: Joe Biden—his feelings, his hopes, his accomplishments, his legacy—is not bigger than his country. And right now, that country he wants to lead again through the next four years is in mortal danger from the menace that is Donald Trump.

That makes it imperative, a moral duty, that Biden thinks only of his country, and not himself, in making way for someone younger and more nimble to prosecute the case against Trump. That was the only task Biden had two nights ago, and he failed miserably.

That stiff, slack-jawed and mentally meandering 81-year-old man who stood haplessly on stage, unable to respond in any meaningful way to the usual fire hose of lies spewing from the mouth of his opponent, will not be improving with age.

Yes, he had a cold, he’s a lifelong stutterer, and his staff should be prosecuted on grounds of political malfeasance for obviously stuffing his head with statistics and policy minutiae (much of which he flubbed anyway) rather than a laser-like focus to dismantle Trump’s abhorrent character, his chaotic administration, and subsequent years-long campaign of grievance and falsehood.

But that does not change the reality on the ground. Biden’s debate performance has only increased the odds that he will lose in November. Because for all the threat that Trump not only poses but actually suggests he will follow through on if, perish the thought, he assumes power again, Biden himself is simply not up to the job.

Let me repeat: He is simply not up to the job.

And that prospect should be absolutely unacceptable not only to the country at large, but to Biden himself, and everyone who supports and cares for him.

How can we in good conscience, no matter who his opponent is, be content with this man as the best we can muster to become leader of the free world?

For better and for worse, the presidency today requires someone who is at least presentable as a clear communicator, a persuader-in-chief, in basic command of his own mind. Nothing—NOTHING!—about his debate performance suggests he is that someone.

Fortunately, the Democratic Party has a number of young and rising stars who can fulfill that requirement. They should now be given a chance to show it—just in time to possibly make the difference between victory and defeat come November.

Would an open convention be messy, risky, and perhaps result in a loss anyway to whomever the Democratic Party decides upon? Yes, yes, and yes.

But it is a risk we must accept, given the irrefutable evidence presented to our eyes and ears two nights ago.

It’s roll-the-dice time for the Democratic Party, and no matter how the subsequent machinations go until a younger, more vigorous nominee emerges, anyone who was watching Thursday night should take whatever odds are presented to them in a heartbeat, and then double-down right up until election day.




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29 comments to Joe Biden Must Step Aside

  • Mbf  says:

    Hear, hear!

  • Arjan Khalsa  says:

    I agree 100%. Note: If Democrats fall in line with the rhetoric that Joe Biden Is well suited for the presidency, that would construe the same level of falsehood applied by MAGA Republicans who suspend reality and lend their support to Donald Trump.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Great point, Arjan, thanks…

  • Gerry Ausiello  says:

    After the first five minutes of “the debate”, the night was lost, and I came to the same conclusion you did. However, the President “showed up” the next day in North Carolina, eloquently and forcefully, and I was convinced by the likes of Michael Steele, The Rev. Al Sharpton, Jim Clyburn, Eric Swalwell that all is not lost! Though I (and many others), have hoped for a new slate of candidates for some time, I don’t see a way for that to happen before November. I’m not saying it won’t; because of the instant communication and short news cycles, the calculus can change very quickly. I have a feeling that there will be an event or events that dramatically impact the election. Stand by to stand by!
    On a similar tack, Rep. Swalwell made the point that the winning the House was essential to stabilizing the government against a possible Trump Presidency.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      I know, Gerry, Biden can still get things done and show much better on occasion, but the problem is that relatively speaking, next to no one who counts (the small bloc of undecided voters who will decide the election) will see his North Carolina clips, whereas multi-millions tuned in to see the Thursday Night Massacre. The other problem is that polls have consistently shown Biden running behind various Democratic senators & congressmembers, which is a very bad sign in general, made all the worse the other night. If I were one of them, I’d be lobbying Biden’s inner circle to please help out the congressional effort by withdrawing.

      I hear ya, though, that standing by to stand by is essential. Events have a way of reshaping things in dramatic fashion, and with four months still to go, Lord only knows…

    • Robert Michael Burns  says:

      Gerry, we are gambling on the fate of the country here. To depend on a future event to right the Biden ship is to gamble that an event will in fact occur. To depend on a shift in public opinion after the dust settles from the 1st debate is equally an unknown.

      Meanwhile time marches on and it becomes increasingly difficult for the party to declare the convention open. Getting that done is a heavy lift to start with. There are huge political obstacles. Gov. Newsom castigates us for abandoning such an accomplished president. And he is a powerful Democrat.

      The absolute reality is that Joe Biden’s age is abandoning him, not us. If reelected he will be 86 when he leaves office. An absolute fossil. Like me!

  • M. Benny Hernandez  says:

    Like it or not he’s our best bet to beat Da Donald. Maybe he shouldn’t have run. But it’s too late to change now. You try changing horses in midstream…you drown. He probably should have resigned about 2 1/2 years in and let Kamala take over. But he didn’t. Doesn’t matter why. It didn’t happen. He definitely lost this debate and he may lose the next one. But the bottom line is Joe Biden can do the job and Da Donald can’t. So get over the debate and get back to registering people to vote and organizing get out the vote efforts.

    This is the hand we’ve been dealt. All we can do is play it as best we can. Vote Biden!

    • Jay Helman  says:

      I’m completely with you , Benny Hernandez. Dems need to get away from hand-wringing and come out fighting. One person on that debate stage was clearly not qualified and, for the good of the country , ought to step out of the race. And that is clearly Donald Trump. Dem hysteria over Biden performance (which, indeed, was awful) detracts from the more important (and dangerous ) reality of just how deranged The Don is. I saw a news tagline this morning that Don and his crowd are laying low now so that Dem doubts about Biden remain the top story. It’s time for Dems to aggressively call out Trump and the Supremes for their efforts to destroy our Republic and the Constitution. Turn the focus back to Jack Smith, Judge Chutkun and the horrors of the insurrection. Make it clear that The Don is incapable of serving as president. Joe has been (and is) a terrific president who saved us from Trump, Covid, Barr, et al. Dems need to rally around him and hammer home his accomplishments. Karine Jean-Pierre read quotes from foreign leaders about their admiration for Biden at a recent press conference. It’s tme to jump on board with wholehearted support, believe in Joe, believe in democracy, and hammer MAGA at every opportunity. As you have written, this is the hand we’ve been dealt, so let’s make it work.

  • David Staudacher  says:

    Yes, I also fear this is true, given that the election will be decided by those who are easily swayed and spend little time, if any, looking beyond the superficial. If decided on merit alone, it would of course be a Democratic landslide but, unfortunately, that is not the case. And no preaching to the choir to “stand fast” will change it. Such pleas are lost on those who will vote Democrat “no matter what” and, likewise, those who will vote Republican “no matter what”. The only ones who really count are the easily swayed and superficial, and giving them more of what we saw on Thursday night will *not* convince them to cast their lot with us.
    I agree with the NY Times editorial board in saying that if Biden really wants a Democratic victory in the Electoral College this fall, the best thing he can do is step aside, perhaps recommend a worthy successor, and then let the Party choose another candidate at the convention. Yes, we all understand it is *very* late now to be doing that, but I’d rather see the better platform succeed than have it founder because the Democratic Party chose to close its eyes, “stay the course” and simply hope, rather than vigorously try to avoid the obvious hazards ahead.

  • Fred Dodge  says:

    Wholeheartedly disagree. Was I in a fetal position the minute that ‘debate’ began? Yes, according to Phyllis.
    Why the eff is the orange turd being given a pass by the Press? He vomited lies and has no verifiable soul. A man should always be given the benefit of doubt. We Democrats/ independents, and humans need to realize how gamed everyone is at this early stage of the election cycle. ‘We’ need to uniformly vote our best interests with support to oust the Gym Jordan’s, Doormatt Gaetz, and other self serving Republicans to bring balance back to the Imperial court. It’s all hands on deck time to save this Democracy.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Benny, in normal times for normal stakes, I would be agreeing with you, but the situation we face is so dire and the stakes are so high that I’m willing to bet the house that changing horses in this particular stream is the best course of action. I could be wrong, and if we do manage to beat Trump with a different candidate, we’ll never know whether Biden could have won as well. All we can do is go with our best instincts, in good faith, and you can bet if Biden does not follow my advice to step down, I will still be one of those hands on deck over these next months.

    David, we seem to be seeing this the same way, and I would only emphasize with you that the “easily swayed and superficial” voting bloc you reference is the exact one that will determine this election, and little that happened Thursday night will help them think, “Sure, that Biden seems O.K….” If they haven’t seen enough of Trump’s awfulness to get them off the fence by now, I see little hope but to give them a whole new option, with a younger, more confident and vigorous ticket.

    Fred, I feel your pain, Bro, but I don’t think this is about the press giving Trump a free pass. Major media and hordes of pundits (aside from Fox News & its lessers) continue to take great pains to point out what a godawful candidate and man Trump is. But the issue here is not that Biden is hands-down a better person and president than Trump, but whether Biden can beat him. That’s the ONLY issue that matters, and based on what I saw the other night, the factors that got you into the fetal position suggest to me that we are in desperate need of change, even at this late date. That said, I honor Biden for what he has accomplished through this presidency at a very difficult time. I just don’t think he’s up to it anymore. Much worse yet is that a plurality of voters will feel the same come November, and unlike me, will pull the lever for the other guy. In that direction lies catastrophe, I fear, something everyone interested in preserving our democracy should be willing to do just about anything to avoid.

  • Michael C.  says:

    Certainly a hard pill to swallow, Andrew, but what you say manifested itself in horrendous detail for all to see. To be clear, Trump was far more atrocious, but Joe’s performance stole the show. And it wasn’t because of anything Trump did. He did exactly what was expected of him and a younger, more engaged Joe would have torn his lies and tactics to pieces. Alas, that was not to be.

    Those closest to Biden should have seen this coming and prepared him better or differently. Better yet, the Democratic Party should have seen this coming a long time ago and aligned new leadership that all would support.

    But we are where we are. The rest of the year will prove to be >Insert Loud Screams Here.<

    • Michael D Connelly  says:

      After a few more days of stewing on this, I think I’ve come to resolve some of my angst. I believe the very most important issue of this election is that trump must be defeated. While I can wish for a more energized, articulate Joe, the reality is that I will 100% back Joe Biden if he chooses to stay in the race. His decision. An open convention to replace Biden without his agreement will not only be messy but, IMHO, doomed to fail because of the chaos and confusion it would create within the democratic party.

      • Andrew Hidas  says:

        Me, too, Mike—I in no way meant to imply support for an open convention without Biden’s agreement. If he refuses to budge, that’s that, we go with the horse we’ve got. An open convention fight trying to oust him without his consent would be extremely ill-advised and counter-productive. For one thing, he’s got the delegates in hand, so the Dems would have to break their own party rules to pursue that course. My hope is he steps aside for the good of the nation, period.

        • Michael D Connelly  says:

          Here’s the thing – the obvious choice would be Kamala Harris. But, she has not positioned herself as a viable candidate nor has the democratic party (nor Biden) made significant efforts to place her in that role. Can there be another well supported candidate other than Harris? I’m just not seeing it but would welcome being wrong on that.

          • Andrew Hidas  says:

            Most polls have consistently shown Harris as even less popular than Joe, both of their approval ratings in the basement for years now. She’d be a contender, for sure, purely based on her position, but there are plenty of others who could carry the fight to Trump far more effectively than Biden is capable of. Gretchen Whitmer, Josh Shapiro, Gavin Newsom, Andy Beshear—all effective and pragmatic governors. A Whitmer-Shapiro ticket would reflect two of the critical swing states—Michigan & Pennsylvania. Mayor Pete & Jared Polis could be in that mix, too—whoa, two gay guys! Who says the country hasn’t changed? As mentioned elsewhere, it all could be a disaster in the making, but it increasingly looks like that’s what we’ve got with Biden, so why not go for broke in making way, finally, for a new generation?

  • Mary  says:

    “Crawling into the fetal position” pretty much describes my reaction as well, as the worst case scenario played out in front of us all.

    Then mid-way I realized how angry I was. Annoyed as well, listening to both of them snipe at each other like finger pointing children all but saying “he started it!!” and then rolling my eyes as they actually sparred about…golf scores??? Are you kidding me??

    And then I got angry, looking at both of them: one a reprehensible monster who lies with seemingly every breath (with viscous intent) and the other, an honorable man who should be resting, on his laurels, and just plain resting. IS THIS THE BEST WE CAN DO??? Seriously, these two???

    Were not so very much at stake it would be laughable; it seems some demons somewhere surely are laughing heartily at us and saying we deserve exactly what we are getting. Biden should have been wiping the floor with Trump on Thursday, and someone MUST.

  • Rick R  says:

    I feel like I am the only one who thought Biden performed well. Most of his responses, although mumbling and stumbling were at least scripted well enough. Yes, he is old, and yes, he is often incoherent, but that was the way he was in 2020, which was a far cry from the Joe Biden of 2008. I too have been listening to the banter about his performance, however I wonder how this was not seen 4 years ago? He is the same guy, true maybe one more step off, but for all intents and purposes, the same guy. I also agree there are many, many younger and sharper options for the Democrats, and have been wondering for 4 years why the machine would not allow them.
    The problem with swapping horses now is the only horse to choose is Kamala, and I think we all know she is incapable of that victory. If the Democratic establishment were to ignore the vote of the people, a la Bernie 2016, (super delegates, not the people) and decide for themselves the will of their constituents, and choose one other than the next in line to the throne, denying the first female, and first “woman of color” her shot at the title, the Dems will be nailing a coffin greater than 2024.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      I forgot to mention this in my comment below, Rick (age is catching up with me!), but I don’t agree that a Harris candidacy is a fait accompli. Yes, it would be messy and the voices clamoring for her based on the race aspect alone would be loud, but cheesh, she turned out to be an awful candidate back in 2020, black voters and politicians and those of every other race wholly uninterested in seeing her as president. Her standing is marginally improved since then, and being the sitting vice-president is a source of support on its own, but let us remember that as recently as 2016, a sitting vice president, no other that Biden himself, was not anointed. So I don’t see why she should be either, especially given the deep bench that TODAY’S Democratic Party can put out there, whose members, I am certain, would not be shy about mixing it up with Harris. So: we shall see! Unless we don’t see because Biden refuses to step down. Guess we’ll have to stay tuned!

  • David Jolly  says:

    As is evident from the range of views expressed in comments above, at this point there is no consensus on how best to proceed among the tens of millions of us who know a second Trump term would be disastrous for our country and our democracy. (It is clear, however, there is consensus that Joe should have bowed out a year ago to avoid this deja vu Ruth Bader Ginsburg moment.)

    Maybe the wisest thing to do right now is breathe deeply (or employ whatever anxiety-reduction strategy works best for us – gin and tonics, for instance), wait a week or two for the air to clear to better gauge the fallout of Thursday’s debacle, then go all out to get Joe replaced or re-elected.

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    As I texted you, there was more life in Trump’s lies than Biden’s truth. However, if the people of this nation can’t see beyond Biden’s poor performance at Thursday’s debate and realize the danger Trump poses to democracy, where are we anyway? Having said this, I still have hope that Biden can right the ship and revitalize his campaign. There is time. There’s another debate. The election is five months away. I don’t see him withdrawing from the race, either. Afterall, the convention delegates are in his pocket. If he were to withdraw, could a Harris, Whitmer, or Newsom do any better? I have my doubts. Hence, we need to back him. In our lifetime, only two Presidents, Truman and LBJ, chose not to seek re-election. What followed were Republican victories. We need to take a deep breath as David wrote and pray last Thursday will fade with time. Remember the 2004 American League championship? The Red Sox lost the first three games to the Yankees but amazingly won four in a row and then swept the Cardinals to win the World Series.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Am enjoying this range of opinion, all of which gives me plenty to think about, there being no “wrong” answers to this most challenging situation. Some of the comments have sent me grazing back to previous posts on this matter—among them one from July 2019 making the case that people Biden’s age THEN “should not be president” (, another from just last December, offering a somewhat tentative context for an endorsement of Biden to run again DESPITE his age. (
    So yeah, I’m torn, as are millions of others. But for the moment, I want to address the most recent comments:

    Yes, Mary, it is a whole other level of insane that these two, one a malevolent, mentally ill criminal and the other clearly too elderly to take on a job of such staggering responsibility, are the best we can do. Somehow, our system is not much for getting the best person to the front of the line. I’m going to have to think about this long and hard before I can fathom a response for why that might be, and meanwhile, the question of both yesterday and today and probably at least the next week (an eternity of news cycles!): What to do about Joe?

    Michael, I am going to seize on your comment, “To be clear, Trump was far more atrocious…” I’m reading a chorus of that this morning, read it yesterday in Fred’s comment, and if and as the conversation shifts in the days following debates, then an at least slightly more complex and less horrifying picture might emerge. And yet: Biden is still too old!

    Rick, I have a wee suspicion you’re pulling my leg just a little in claiming Biden “performed well,” especially since you elaborate it with an additional claim that it’s just the same old Biden it’s always been. I think that’s accurate to a point—as I discussed in my December post, Biden has a long history of verbal gaffes that have dogged his entire political life, his lifelong stuttering being foundational to it all. That said, I think if we watched the tape of his 2020 debates alongside this one (torturous exercise that it would be…), we would see him notably diminished. And projecting ahead to him (and Trump!) being 2, 3, 4 years older does not inspire great confidence, though even more importantly, I fear it increases the chances of him losing in November, which would be a tragedy for our nation.

    David and Robert, your basic takes on just taking a deep breath and seeing where we are in coming days are probably sound advice. My own impulse to sound off on this matter was mostly due to 1) sudden horrific exasperation/desperation at Biden’s performance, and 2) a feeling that time is awfully short and if something is going to happen, momentum is going to have to shift very fast. This morning, I’ve been reading more counsel similar to yours, as the focus shifts to more of a “Meanwhile, did you actually listen to how typically unhinged and dishonest Trump was? Who could possibly want that man to be leader of the free world?” (Too many, is my doleful answer to that question, so color me “anxiety-ridden.”) Still, I hope that view gathers its own momentum in coming days. It will help the Democratic nominee, whomever it is, in November.

  • Susan Dearing  says:

    If there were any real “leaders” in the Democratic party with any backbone whatsoever, they would have gone to Biden in 2022, or certainly by the end of last year, and told him he can’t run again. But there has been no Plan B, no leadership, nothing. I am now hoping for some last-minute mayhem at the Democratic Convention where the process goes rogue and they nominate someone else beside Biden. Hell, I would vote for Gavin Newsom in a heartbeat at this point, instead of Biden. What has happened to common sense and humility in this country? And the idea of greater good — not to mention having the grace to know when you need to bow out. Shame on Biden, and even more so on his advisors.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Susan, about Dems failing to do what should have been done two years ago, and I share your exasperation at having arrived at this point. I suspect the situation was complicated by what I think was a faulty choice of Harris as his Veep back then (she had proven to be deeeply unpopular among voters in the primaries!), and serious concerns that 1) They may have little choice but to elevate her if Biden were to step aside, and 2) She’s even more likely to lose than Biden. As I mentioned to Rick above, I’m not at all sure about that first point, but do agree with the second. But like you, I think an open convention could be a breath of fresh democratic air, raucous and with a risk of revealing deep divisions, for sure. But in the end, it would give Dems a fighting chance with a fresh face to prosecute the case against a terribly vulnerable Trump. So my gut feeling continues to be: Bring it on (tentatively…insert brow furrowed emoji here…)

      • Susan Dearing  says:

        Yes, we need something dramatic from the Democrats! And I completely agree with you about Kamala being a bad choice. He should have picked a different running mate.

    • Moon  says:

      Susan…voice of reason here! Not sure Kamala could win (she’d be demonized even more so than Hillary), but there must be some person acceptable to most Dems and independents. Let’s step up and do something.

  • Andrew Hidas  says:

    Everyone: For a concise 18-minute elaboration/confirmation of the central thesis of this post and a rallying cry for the Democratic Party to act as a true alternative to the shambolic cult that is today’s Republican Party, give a listen to the wise-beyond-his-years podcast of Ezra Klein from the New York Times…

  • Jeanette Stokes  says:

    I disagree. I think everyone is making too much of one bad performance. And I’ll take the old boy over the liar who is a convicted felon any day of the week.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Well, you’re certainly not alone in that opinion, Jeanette, though it seems to me to strain credulity to rationalize Biden’s performance as just one bad night. What we saw there was a slow-motion train wreck of a man completely out of sorts, even though he’s a lifelong politician with exhaustive debate experience coming off a week of intensive preparation. I don’t doubt he can still be an effective enough president (assisted by a lot of great staff work), and the issue certainly isn’t whether he’s a better choice than Trump. That is a given. The ONLY question is: Can he BEAT Trump? If not (and polls are telling us it is not likely at the moment), this country is in a world of trouble, and Democrats would have missed a chance to dramatically change the dynamics of what thus far has been a dismal campaign between a criminal-rapist who is also too old and a successful president and decent man whom a clear majority of the country sees as too old to serve another term. Surely we can and deserve to do better than this!

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