Democratic Humble Pie

4 min readJul 9, 2024


So I get it: This debate can’t go on forever, and at some point, the bullet must be bitten, and we must just do the best we can. I agree with that. AOC has declared “the matter is closed.” The right and the left of the party have now united: It is time to move on.

Fine. But before we take that step, let us please recognize:

We’ve spent the last 8 years ridiculing Republicans for blindly following a deluded leader. We’ve demanded they have the courage to tell the truth, regardless of the political consequences to them. We’ve developed new muscles in our eyes because of all the eye-rolling in response to the insanity we have seen. We scream at each other: How can they be so blind?!

And yet, here we are.

I don’t believe Donald Trump’s craziness is anything to compare to Biden’s obliviousness. I certainly believe that Trump’s particular insanity threatens the future of our democracy in a way nothing since Fort Sumter has. I am certain that a second Biden administration would be wildly better than a second Trump administration. I believe, as I have said, that the last four years have been more consequential than any single presidential term since Johnson.

But I also believe that the willingness to simply nod and agree and fall into line is the same sort of weakness that the Republicans have shown. And it is a weakness with exactly the same consequence: theirs will lead to Trump being elected; ours will lead to Trump being elected (Axelrod: Biden is “not winning this race”).

The only issue should be whether you believe Axelrod is wrong, and that Joe Biden has the ability to reverse the trend and win this race. He is losing every swing state; he wasn’t three weeks ago. So, what do you believe will change that trend? Sure, something might: Maybe the public will see and believe that Trump raped a 13-year-old girl, and maybe that will matter; maybe something else will finally make him seem to the critical 10% what he already seems to us. Maybe.

But for sure, nothing is going to reverse the effects of aging that Joe Biden now manifests. Not. One. Thing. He had a chance to show us that it was a one-off on an off-night. He has failed to do that every chance he has had.

Politico, Poll finds Biden damaged by debate

His defenders insist it is physical, not mental. But I don’t care what it is. Whatever it is, I am quite confident his administration would be wildly better than Trump’s. The question instead is, whatever it is, how will it affect swing voters? The polls that say that it hasn’t so much so far are just not relevant: Low-information voters are not paying attention just now; the question is what any rational person would believe they will do when they start paying attention. What will they think when they see what we see now? How will they react to this contrast, and to what it will look like two years from now:

Joe Biden has no argument for why or how he is going to win. He tells us that whenever Democrats unite, we win. Seriously? That’s an argument? Tell that to Clinton, Kerry, and Gore. The most our side has is that when faced with the choice, Trump will seem worse. Of course, that’s not what voters in swing states say now. But somehow, the Biden people say, when they really pay attention, they will finally get it: Trump lies, so elect the guy who can’t do stuff after 8 pm.

The great Bernie Sanders — who, older than Biden, really could do the job as he demonstrated defending Biden in a way that Biden couldn’t defend himself—says the solution is to get America to focus on the issues. Come on, Bernie. If your “solution” is to imagine that you’re going to change both the voters and the media in the next three months, you just don’t have a solution. If voters and the media focused on the issues, Bernie Sanders would be ending his second term this year. What do you imagine is going to change both in the next 3 months?

We needed our own Liz Cheney. Now. We needed leaders willing to state the obvious. Now. We’ve needed to name this particular disease — the absurdity of “only I can do it”—and recognize how much harm it has already done. (RBG. And why aren’t we talking about Sotomayor?) And we needed to recognize that that harm is but tiny compared to the harm from a second Trump term.

We needed that sort of leadership — imagine George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama—to go to the White House and sit down with the President and determine whether the fact that he doesn’t see what almost everyone else does is because (a) he knows something we don’t or (b) he has lost the judgment to see. I desperately want to believe that there is an (a). I can’t begin to think about what follows if it is (b).

But ok, “the matter is closed.” The party has told us to reject the evidence of our eyes and ears. It is their final, most essential command. Now we must follow.

Here’s me, following.