Joe Biden at 2012 DNC in Charlott

Then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks on stage as attendees hold signs that read "Ready For Joe" and "Fired Up" during the final day of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 6, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

I've Been With the DNC for 31 Years. Here's My Democratic Proposal to Get Us Out of This Mess

The major benefits of this process are that it would be seen as an open, transparent, and democratic process.

While there has long been concern about President Biden’s age and his ability to run an effective campaign, many Democrats have resisted any discussion of replacing him at the top of the ticket. They recognize that the president’s record on domestic issues has been a good one on which to run. They know that his persona directly challenges former President Trump’s appeal with white working-class voters in key battleground states. And they are afraid of the uncertainties that might accompany his stepping down.

After the president’s unsettling performance during the June 27th televised debate, confronting this concern was no longer speculative. It became urgent. With major news outlets and respected commentators elevating the president’s mental acuity and the drip, drip, drip of elected officials beginning to voice their concern, Democrats have come to realize that this issue will continue to dominate coverage, with media waiting for the next verbal gaffe or sign of frailty.

Instead of this facing this problem, the White House and the party have doubled down on denial. They’ve placed blame on the president’s travel schedule or the effects of a cold and sent emails to supporters comparing the president’s superior vision for the future of the country with Donald Trump’s bold-faced lies.

Recognizing that the president’s performance and capacity are a reality that can’t be ignored, I submitted a proposal to the party outlining a process that would allow the President to step down and be replaced by a candidate chosen through an open, transparent, and democratic process. It was also one, I hoped, that would be respectful of the president and his accomplishments.

It would have to begin, of course, with the president’s announcement that he would not be seeking reelection; that he understands the need to defeat Donald Trump; and that he is confident in the deep Democratic bench that can both defeat Trump and build on the successes of his presidency. While he could endorse his Vice-President, he would make it clear that this was not a coronation, but an open process that would be decided by the Democratic Convention. In order to ensure that voters have their say, he would announce that he is turning the process over to the Democratic National Committee to define the way forward.

What I proposed is that the DNC lay out a one-month campaign schedule to select the party’s nominee. It would begin with a nominating process, proceed with an abbreviated one-month campaign schedule (featuring two televised town halls), and conclude at the Democratic convention where the candidates would be formally nominated with votes taken among the seated delegates. The excitement generated by this process and the attention it would be given would be a plus for our eventual nominee.

The major benefits of this process are that it would be seen as an open, transparent, and democratic process. Another benefit is that for at least one month, national media would be focused on the Democratic candidates and their exciting process, drawing sharp contrast with the antics of the GOP nominee.

Over the past half century, conventions have gone from being exciting and sometimes unpredictable affairs to highly scripted events. The more scripted they have become, the less attention they have received from national media. There was a time when the networks gave gavel-to-gavel coverage to these events. More recently, some networks provide only an hour or two to convention coverage nightly. An unscripted convention would ensure greater coverage. With the excitement of an open process, Democrats would leave Chicago energized.

Finally, with President Biden having made this all possible, he would be seen as a national leader who put aside his personal ambition and concerns with a replacement because he cared more about saving democracy—and trusted the party and Democrats to build on his legacy. His final address to the Convention would be a crowning moment in his long career as a public servant.

Three additional notes: I wrote this memo (and this article) as a leader in the Democratic Party. I’ve been on the national committee for 31 years—16 of them on the Executive Committee and 11 as chair of the Resolutions Committee. When my proposal received considerable national media attention, I knew that many party leaders would be upset because I spoke out of turn. But I was willing to face the consequences because I know it is important for us to take the reins of this situation and propose the changes we need to make.

Some were also displeased that I suggested it wouldn’t do for the president to simply step down and pass the mantle to Vice President Harris. While I believe that she would be an excellent choice and would most likely win at the convention, I also believe that her candidacy would be greatly strengthened by winning in an open convention.

Finally, there were those in my community who were upset that I even cared to engage in this process because of our legitimate anger over President Biden’s support for Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza. I have never hesitated to condemn the U.S. complicity in this war and will continue to do so. What motivated me to issue my proposal was the urgency of ensuring that Donald Trump will never again enter the White House. And so I acted in the best interests of my community, my party, and my country.

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