Although the event is still two years away, presidential prospects for the Democrat Party are in a state of disarray. Something close to a miracle will be needed to repair its fortunes.
It is clear that Joe Biden is non compos mentis. He cannot expect to survive politically until that crucial date, and there are no obvious candidates to succeed his shaky tenure. Kamala Harris is a non-starter, as indeed she has always been. Pete Buttigieg has hopes — he has nothing else. Elizabeth Warren is adept only at embarrassing herself and her party with her dogma of derivation and clamorous self-promotion. Bernie Sanders is a geriatric relic of a Communist pathology.
There is talk that California disaster Gavin Newsom may be touted for the office but, realistically speaking, he would have no chance against either Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis. The “deplorable” Hillary, if she decides to run, or hobble, would likely rack up only another resounding drench of mortification. AOC generates media coverage and adulation but, in the common idiom, is too much of a “flake” to qualify as a serious contender. Joe Manchin might have a chance of putting up a good fight, but he is basically too decent to earn the Party’s imprimatur.
If the Republican Party does not self-destruct, as it is prone to do, electoral fraud may seem the only alternative open to the Democrats. But following the scandal of the last election and the recent passage of election integrity legislation in many jurisdictions, subterfuge may no longer be an altogether viable option. What, then, is to be done?
The Democrats may be considering a political expedient that has only one historical precedent, permitted in exceptional circumstances. If they can continue to preside over a Congressional plenum and/or tamper with the composition of the Supreme Court or cobble together some other unenvisioned or ingenious solution to their woes, they may conceivably achieve the unimaginable — though in the current cultural and political maelstrom, when everything seems up for grabs and the systemic breakdown of the social contract is a daily event, the unimaginable has become distinctively imaginable and even possible.
The answer to the Democrat predicament is none other than Barack Obama, the emperor in waiting.
The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution lays down that a president can serve no more than two terms, with the rare provision for a vice president under certain strict conditions to partially exceed that limit should a sitting president be unable to complete his term. The two-term limit was a longstanding tradition, dating from the time of George Washington, and was violated only once when Franklin Delano Roosevelt served three terms in office and a fraction of a fourth. But that was during wartime when an exception to the unwritten rule was allowable. The 22nd Amendment was approved by Congress in 1947 and officially ratified in 1951. The two-term limit is now written in stone, or so it would seem.
I would not be surprised if the Democrats, who are capable of any and every form of legal legerdemain and breach of standard political practice and established principle, will find some way of nominating Obama as a presidential candidate and justifying his return to the White House for a third term. The argument would be that, as in the 1940s, the circumstances are exceptional and exemption from the rule of law is, in the historical moment, necessary.
Obama, who commands unstinted Party loyalty, has absolute control of the media, and enjoys enormous public cachet, is the only feasible successor to the fossilized incumbent. Obama may well stand an even chance of carrying his Party to victory. I would not put it past a failed and disreputable governing entity, a veritable political mafia, to engineer a legislative conjuring trick while it still clings to, or somehow retains, Congressional authority.
Perhaps the Dems will find a new war to allow for the invocation of emergency measures. Perhaps they will be able to manipulate the regulative Election Clause (Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1 of the Constitution) to “make or alter such Regulations” in order to advance their midterm prospects and the political future it commands. We do not know precisely what they are capable of pulling off, but we know that they will almost certainly come up with something. I am no Constitutional scholar, but I am pretty well convinced of two things:
- Absent Republican self-immolation, Obama is the Democrats’ only chance of remaining competitive.
- The Party will go to any lengths to ensure continuity.
Dick Morris is certain that Hillary will be the Party’s nominee for 2024, but Morris is not an oracle. I suspect the Democrats know that Hillary would be a fatal mistake. It’s either Obama, or a lame duck before the fact, so Obama it might well be. It would be the height of folly to believe the Democrats will play by the rules or would be hesitant to perform an unanticipated or illegitimate act of prestidigitation to bring their knight errant back into the electoral fold. For they will stop at nothing, no matter how singular and unthinkable.
Admittedly, the scenario I am proposing is something of a stretch. It does not at first blush seem plausible. The number of unpredictable factors that would have to be negotiated, the climate of fear and apprehension that would need to be created, along with the subtle contrivance of juridical and legislative complexities, would likely appear unmanageable.
Yet, in these tectonic times, anything is possible. The Constitution, after all, is regarded by Democrats as a “living document,” that is, it may be altered or selectively abolished if the Democrats pool their resources to manufacture a crisis or ram a legislative coup through the machinery of Congressional procedure. Republicans must avoid complacency and steer clear of feckless presumption. To adapt the famous adage: Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make over-confident.
Best to be prepared for the return of the Lightbringer.