As Donald Trump continues his hold on the GOP and looks unstoppable at the 2020 Republican nominee and the far left continues to seize the Democrats, more and more people are looking for a third way.
Right now, the options that exist aren’t so appealing. The Libertarians are off the table for a lot of people because they keep nominating cranks like Gary Johnson (which is crazy when they have a legitimate rock star in Austin Petersen). And I know I’m not alone in thinking that I won’t make the Evan McMullen mistake again next time.
So what’s left? Politico has made a bold suggestion: that Joe Biden should form a third-party or independent “unity” ticket with someone from the GOP (and conjuring the spirit of Joe Lieberman to do so).
Biden could run as the major third-party candidate with a principled conservative by his side (Lieberman, a one-time Democrat, technically categorized himself as an independent at the time McCain ran for president). A number of Republicans stand out: Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich and newly minted Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. Many past third-party bids have failed because they came from the lunatic fringes—think Jill Stein and Ralph Nader of the Green Party or Ross Perot with his quirky North American Free Trade Agreement obsession. Biden, by picking someone from the principled wing of the GOP, would instantly signal that he intends to run from the center.
The piece goes on to suggest that Biden and a Republican can win against the two-party system.
The top of the ticket needs to come from the center-left, because he or she needs to get a plurality of the vote in the blue states Hillary Clinton won (227 electoral votes), yet be moderate enough to win a plurality in some combination of Trump states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan (another 119 votes). A bipartisan ticket might even put purple states like North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana in play. A right-leaning candidate at the top of the ticket won’t work, though: He or she would meet the same fate as a primary challenger to Trump. Around 36 percent of voters won’t be cleaved from Trump under any circumstances, so the deep-red states would be off the table entirely.
Juleanna Glover, the author of the article and a former adviser to Republicans, suggests that this Biden-whoever ticket should pledge a one-term presidency with an aggressive centrist agenda that boldly goes across party lines.
This idea is a brilliant pipe dream and a terrific what-if exercise, but there’s one major flaw in Glover’s theory: Joe Biden. Sure, Biden has a lot of love as America’s favorite crazy uncle, but are enough Americans prepared to trust him as chief executive?
Biden is too entrenched in the Democrat party establishment. I don’t see him being willing enough to buck that establishment in doing things that the center-right truly wants. Remember, this is the guy who called Obamacare a “big f***in’ deal” on a hot mic. I just don’t see him winning over enough Trump-skeptic conservatives.
Don’t forget that Biden has a timely problem: his treatment of women. Plenty of women see Biden as creepy; his gestures and contact with women can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. Obviously, this is a problem for Trump, but his fans give him a tremendous amount of leeway. I don’t see Biden getting that kind of pass, at least not in the age of #MeToo.
Let’s also not forget Biden’s age. He would be 78 at the time of his inauguration. That’s a huge liability for anyone, particularly for a politician that a lot of voters would have to hold their noses to select. Besides, I’ve argued for years that Baby Boomers need to get out of the way and let Generation X have a chance to lead before the Millennials take over. At this point, the best national Gen-X leadership we have is on the right, and the last thing we need is another new Boomer president.
All I can say to Juleanna Glover is, “Nice try.” You’ve dreamed up a humdinger of a scenario – one that Ralph Reed fleshed out a decade ago in his terrific novel Dark Horse – but your fatal flaw is at the top of ticket. And his name is Joe Biden.