It’s hard to imagine a presidential debate more triumphant than the one we saw last Thursday night—or, if you’re a Democrat, one more miserable.

In the immediate hours after the debate, a chorus erupted on television and online from the supposed opinion-makers of the liberal ruling class: Joe Biden must step aside, they said.

The New York Times editorial board itself took the dramatic step of calling for Biden to step down.

Just as the media seemed to be waging a full-on assault against Biden, prominent Democrats stepped in with a rather different message. In a matter of hours, the most senior and respected Democrat officials came out with public support for Biden.

It may seem like we are on the brink of a protracted struggle over whether Joe Biden will be forced off the top of the Democratic ticket. This showdown is interesting and consequential not only for the obvious impact on the presidential race but also because it is a rare public struggle between the mainstream media and the elder statesmen of the Democrat Party—usually the most reliable of allies and bedfellows. If Biden’s cognitive inabilities simply serve to underscore how opaque power is in the most powerful nation in the history of the earth (if Biden is brain dead, who is running the show?), the struggle between the Democrat elite and the media will at least offer a glimpse as to the pecking order among two key components of our otherwise inscrutable power structure.

Many in the conservative media are absolutely convinced that Biden is gone. Bill O’Reilly is just one of many examples of media figures boasting reliable sources who have assured that Biden is on the outs.

But don’t be fooled. Biden isn’t dropping out. He was never going to drop out. No matter how badly Biden did Thursday night—and it’s hard to imagine a worse showing than what we all saw—he was always going to stay in. Unless Biden dies or becomes a vegetable incapable of basic articulation or ambulation, he will remain the Democrat candidate on November 5.

We realize that this position is very much going against the grain, and anything is possible—we could even be wrong. But the underlying analysis that led us to this position months ago has simply not changed.

Indeed, even when the primaries were still unfolding, Revolver laid out several reasons why a Gavin Newsom switcheroo and other potential schemes often dreamed up on the right were so unlikely. Those schemes are even more unlikely now than they were then, and there are several new reasons why they are so unlikely to happen.

Let us explain why Democrats will, in all likelihood, be forced to stick with Old Joe. As old-time Democrat strategist David Axelrod seems to recognize, the Democrats had their chance to get rid of Biden over a year ago, and now it is simply too late for any such effort not to do more harm than good to the Democrats’ 2024 prospects. In short, they’re screwed.

David Axelrod:

Reality check: @JoeBiden is the nominee of the Democratic Party, nominated by voters in primaries across the country. Unless the @POTUS, himself, decides to quit–which he won’t–that issue is settled.
The discussion that is going on now was timely a year ago, when few wanted to have it.
It’s largely irrelevant today.

The Only Viable Replacement Is Universally Hated

As you might recall learning in elementary school, America literally has a designated constitutional position whose sole purpose is to step up and take over if a president dies or becomes incapacitated—and notably, it’s not the Governor of California. It should be very natural for Democrats, staring at a declining Biden, to insist that his vice president be elevated to the top job right now. Everything that makes dumping Biden difficult and awkward would, in this singular case, be quite smooth. Kamala Harris could inherit Biden’s war chest and campaign apparatus fully intact. She could be swapped out at the DNC and on state ballots with little issue. Heck, unlike any other potential replacement, she could be elevated to the presidency right now, giving her both a honeymoon period and a slight incumbent’s advantage in the race—and besides, she’ll probably be taking over after next November anyway.

But that is very conspicuously not happening. This speaks volumes. It transcends Kamala Harris merely having low poll numbers for a vice president. If Kamala’s only problem was shaky approval, one could imagine more than a handful of people suggesting she is at least worth a roll of the dice. Instead, virtually no one has said that. The implication is that Kamala isn’t merely unpopular with the public, but that she is profoundly hated by everyone around her: by activists, by the Biden White House, by Democrats in Congress, and by her own staff. Obama once humiliated Hilary with the backhanded compliment that she was “likable enough.” Kamala Harris evidently doesn’t even meet this very low threshold.

Amanda Terkel:

NEW — Biden’s campaign manager held a tense call with top donors today, outlining what would happen to the campaign infrastructure should Biden step aside. (In short, the war chest go to Kamala Harris.)

One participant said some donors even asked for refunds for their contributions by @mikememoli @albamonica

This is a crucial, rarely-stated component of everything that makes replacing Biden so hard. If Kamala were a natural heir apparent, or at least a natural politician, she might be able to rally Biden’s cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment against him. But instead, there’s no shot at that; the Cabinet probably hates her just as much as you do.

There Is Nobody Anti-Biden in Control

The very loud yelping from TV talking heads and D.C.-based columnists might make you think there is an overwhelming tide of Democrats standing up to insist Biden step aside.

But think to yourself: Have any actual lawmakers demanded that Biden leave? Has any Democrat with power come out to say that Biden’s delegates should pick them instead at the forthcoming DNC? Have there been any public defections from the group surrounding Biden in the White House itself?

Nope. It hasn’t happened. And it almost certainly will not, for several reasons.

First, there is the natural collective action problem. There is a big risk to being the first prominent Democrat to call for Biden to step aside. If Biden stays in the race and wins, they will be frozen out of the Democrat inner circle as traitors. If Biden stays in the race and loses, they might be blamed for stoking party division and chaos and handing the race to Trump. If Biden is forced out and the replacement subsequently loses, they face the same problem. This makes launching a first strike extremely politically dangerous.

But second, for a great many Democrats, taking down Joe Biden is essentially taking down themselves. As we explained last March, many of the most powerful people in the Democrat apparatus, including the only people capable of forcing him aside, owe their very prominence to Biden’s patronage.


The roughly 30 members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee are far from famous. You’ve heard of Ilhan Omar, AOC, and Gretchen Whitmer, but have you heard of… Frank Leone? Ken Martin? David McDonald? But anonymous or not, this is the body with the power to change how the Democrats pick their nominee.

And this body, as it happens, is stacked in Biden’s favor. Membership in this critical committee is controlled by the chairman of the DNC, Jaime Harrison, formerly chair of the South Carolina Democrats. Harrison owes his position to being chosen by Joe Biden, and as expected of him, he’s filled Rules and Bylaws with reliable Biden backers.


The presence of so many Biden political allies implies, on the flip side, a lack of allies for anyone else. If there really were a viable plot to install Gavin Newsom specifically, it would help to have Newsom political allies somewhere high up in the Democrat Party apparatus. But instead, such allies are missing. That’s no surprise, because he’s not the one who controls the Rules Committee.

In short, the DNC is not some independent actor on the left. It is a body substantially controlled by Joe Biden. Expecting it to change course in order to save the Democrats is like expecting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to be derailed by the membership of Mar-a-Lago.

Read the Rest: The Left Has to Replace Biden. Here’s Why They Can’t.

Chairman Harrison has, notably, been aggressively supporting Biden in the hours after the debate calamity.

The position Harrison is in applies equally well to the members of Biden’s cabinet, his circle of Oval Office aides, and others: Their prominence is tethered to Biden’s presidency, so destroying that presidency means destroying their own status. Fat chance.

No Way to Create Consensus


Pressing down on all of this is a matter of urgency. The left is, ultimately, adept at creating a group consensus through decentralized means; just think about how efficiently they suppressed the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020 or how they turned millions of people into masked automatons for much of 2020 and 2021 over COVID.

The left is very capable of collective action, but typically, they need time and a mechanism for creating consensus, and the current situation gives them neither.

Who is the strongest of the potential replacements for Biden? In truth, nobody knows, and with the primaries long over, there is no way to go and check. Already, different voices have suggested candidates like Gavin Newsom, Michelle Obama, Gretchen Whitmer, J.B. Pritzker, and so on. In any other political power struggle, there is typically a quick way to sort out the winner. When House Democrats pick a leader, they can vote amongst themselves. When the party picks a nominee normally, there are state primaries. But here, there is literally only one way to settle the strongest Democrat: a vote on the floor of the DNC. And speaking of which…

A Convention Circus

One of the chief Democrat fears this entire cycle has been the possibility that the nomination convention in Chicago will turn into a circus, like the infamously violent and doomed convention of 1968. The fear of such a flare-up is one of the unspoken motivations behind the planned “digital convention” to make Biden the official nominee prior to the August DNC.

Well, want to guarantee a bitter fight next August? Put the actual nomination up for grabs!

Instead of having a united party that only needs a champion, the Democrats are a divided, factional party that has only barely papered over their divisions for the sake of taking on Trump. But put the nomination itself in doubt, and all those divisions flare up again. Different pressure groups will demand a candidate who is more pro-Palestine, more pro-Israel, or more pro-trans, or who vows to pack the Supreme Court, or who promises Medicare-for-all, or who pledges a total immigration amnesty.

Democrats are fully aware of how fratricidal their ideological disputes can turn, and the only way to avoid such a fight dominating national TV during the week of their convention is to stay the course.

Money Printer Go Splat

Whatever the failures of his presidency, and no matter how many ugly polls come out, the Biden campaign has at least been able to count on having a lot of money bundled up to fund the race against Trump. But thanks to the provisions of U.S. election law, this money is not easily transferable to any other candidates, save Biden’s own gruesomely unpopular vice president.



If a presidential candidate dropped out of the race, they would first need to repay all of their campaign vendors, and if the campaign ended before their parties’ respective conventions, where they officially select a nominee, they would have to refund all contributions designated to be used in the general election, elections lawyer Brett Kappel told Forbes.

After that, Biden or Trump could try to use any leftover money to support their party’s new candidate—but campaign finance laws only allow them to transfer $2,000 directly to another federal campaign, so the vast majority of their eight-figure war chests would need to be given to other groups like political parties or PACs, a complicated process.

The funds could seamlessly be transferred, without limits, to national, state or local party committees, such as the Democratic or Republican National Committees, which could use the money to support a replacement nominee or other Democratic candidates in federal down-ballot races—a scenario that would make the party largely responsible for funding a candidate’s presidential run, representing a break from most modern campaigns.

Pragmatically, overcoming this obstacle would be enormous. Nobody wants the trouble of having to return and then raise tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. But there’s another incentive that is even more direct: Plenty of campaign operatives and consultants are making bank off of their roles in the Biden campaign and will have no interest in potentially losing tens of millions of dollars by making a risky pivot to another candidate.

But above all, the single biggest reason that Joe Biden is going to stay in the race and stay the Democrat nominee is that…

Nobody Can Make Biden Quit

This is the kernel at the heart of everything. The frequent assumption is that, simply because Biden has lost his marbles, he can be forcibly shoved aside.

But as anyone who has been around those experiencing cognitive decay before knows, it’s far from that simple. Anyone who has ever seen a single Boomer meme online knows that a key characteristic of many older people with fading powers is arrogance. They may appear to be declining, they may sound like they’re declining, and everyone may know that they’re declining, but the individuals themselves will never admit they are declining. This arrogance has allowed countless CEOs, coaches, and senators to remain on the job until they are finally removed only by the icy hand of death.

Joe Biden has always been power-hungry; nobody becomes a senator at 30 or runs for president three times if they aren’t. To Joe Biden’s enfeebled brain, he’s the guy who beat Trump in 2020, when all those other chumps couldn’t manage it. He’s the guy who beat the 2022 “Red Wave” when everybody counted him out. And this isn’t even to mention his wife, who is clearly on a power trip of her own:

Think about how Biden has thrived as a politician. He has spent decades telling cartoonish lies about his own life. He has made false claims about his grades, about being arrested in South Africa for opposing apartheid, and about becoming supportive of gay rights as a child after seeing two men kissing. And to top it all off, Biden claims that he has a golf handicap of six!

As silly as these fables are, Biden’s gotten away with them over and over, just like his family got away with their ludicrously corrupt arrangements with foreign oligarchs and U.S. credit card companies. Biden’s entire life is a life of pushing the envelope, looking out for the Bidens, and mostly getting away with it. Why would such a person ever step aside for “the good of the party” or “the good of the country?” or even more cynically, because the New York Times told him to? Why would such a person ever believe he has been laid low by the hand of time?

It’s not happening. Joe Biden will stay. And it looks like Democrats are shackled to him—to the bitter end. Thank God.