There is an almost obsessive concern with Biden’s age. And in his video, Biden sought to portray himself as an eternal champion who will «fight for the soul of America» by taking on conservatives who ban books, make it hard to vote, and meddle in American health care decisions. women.
However, this campaign will be very different to the socially distanced campaign that successfully navigated 2020 with few public appearances during the height of the pandemic.
There is a perceived paucity of enthusiasm for his campaign, with many Democratic activists resigned to the fact that Biden is their best chance to prevent the Republicans from retaking the presidency. And the reality for Biden is that many activists, natural substitutes to reinforce his message, are getting tired. Many see themselves as loyal foot soldiers fighting the culture war battles being waged in conservative legislatures pushing for tougher anti-abortion and voting laws.
Many do not see Biden himself as a driving force in 2024.
“He’s not going to be the one to energize the base,” Cliff Albright, executive director of the Black Voters Matter Fund, told The Recast newsletter with a hint of a laugh.
«Obviously, they’re going to have to be surrogates to do the energizing part, but he has some accomplishments, including some that directly influence Black people that he can craft a message about.»
Albright says the relaunch video was strong and he was glad to see Biden lean so heavily on voting rights, an issue he says is key for black voters, even though Democrats failed to enact federal protections when the party had a government trifecta.
“Sometimes all black people want to see is, ‘We want to see you fight,’” Albright says. “We are not naive. We’re used to being in fights that we know we can’t win because we don’t have the votes… but we want people to fight for us.»
Many Democratic strategists and activists give the Biden administration high marks for stabilizing the economy after pandemic shutdowns, passing bipartisan infrastructure legislation and nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman to the Supreme Court.
Those, they say, are accomplishments that Biden should be touting.
They also hope that the Biden administration can craft a cohesive campaign message, one that showcases their achievements but also serves as a wake-up call for the battles ahead that still require a united front of elected officials and activists to achieve. Keeping the activist class engaged and energized is key, but there is also a hard truth being told among grassroots organizers.
“I think what you’re seeing is that we’re exhausted,” says Nina Smith, a political strategist and longtime Democratic activist who worked on the last cycle of Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign.
“There are a lot of people right now who are just tired and have moved on. The people I worked with in 2020 have moved away and aren’t as engaged anymore.»
«That’s the real danger here,» he adds.
Activists point out that if the Biden campaign invests in and engages community organizers early on, this initial fatigue can be overcome.
Many also say Biden should rely on a new class of elected officials, including freshman Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) and Tennessee Reps. Justin Pearson and Justin Jones, to help elevate his campaign to a tired progressive base.
The «two Justins,» as they are sometimes called, are young black men who were ousted from the GOP-led Tennessee Legislature, before being reinstated the following week.
Along with state Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white and survived an ouster vote, they make up the «Tennessee Three.» On Monday, they met with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House to pressure the administration to declare gun violence a public health emergency.
Still, activists on the left may be looking past Biden, who will be 82 if he is sworn in for another term. Instead, they say, they are inspired by the woman leading her campaign: Julie Chávez Rodríguez. She is a senior White House adviser and the granddaughter of César Chávez, famed union leader and Chicano icon.
Not everyone agrees that it is enough.
“That by itself is not going to be something that is going to [bring] Latino voters support President Biden,” says Mayra López-Zúñiga, political strategist for the progressive group Mijente. «I think we need a little more substance.»
The way she sees it, many Latino voters don’t feel like their lives have changed for the better during the Biden administration. Huge wage gaps persist between Latinas and non-Hispanic men. By a measure of the Justice for Women ReportLatinas earn 54 cents for every dollar a white man earns.
Then there’s immigration, which was not mentioned in the relaunch of the president’s campaign video and is seen as a potential liability for Biden heading into 2024.
“The president has not been able to comply with immigration, there is no asylum reform, DACA is still up in the air,” López-Zúñiga tells The Recast. «So I don’t know, right now, if there’s a big energy about what 2024 will look like.»
While Biden and his advisers seek to project the image of a nimble commander-in-chief, questions about his stamina will hang over his re-election prospects, as will concerns that voters simply aren’t as interested in him. . The last data point underline that came in a NBC News poll released on sunday.
It found that a staggering 70 percent of Americans say Biden should not run, including 51 percent of Democrats. That compares with just 26 percent who said they ought run. Of those who said he shouldn’t run, a combined 69 percent cited his age as a reason.
Still: A lot can happen in a campaign over the course of 18 months. If anyone knows this, it’s Biden himself.
This article first appeared in an issue of The revised newsletter.