In 2020, President Joe Biden struggled primarily with convincing young progressives to vote for him. Not because young progressives loved Donald Trump — nor even because the Green Party or some other progressive third party put up a good candidate — but because he was seen as too moderate and had a hard time getting disillusioned progressives involved in the electoral system.
Progressives becoming disillusioned is the death nail for Democratic electoral victories on the national level. In 1968, supporters of Robert Kennedy and Eugenie McCarthy —the second of which infamously rioted at the 1968 Democratic Convention — refusing to vote for Hubert Humphrey is what gave Richard Nixon the presidency. In 1980, Ted Kennedy not making the progressive case for Jimmy Carter — even during his speech at the convention — is cited as one of the many reasons Ronald Reagan won. In 2000, progressives who did not like the actions of Bill Clinton refused to vote for Al Gore — either staying at home or voting for Ralph Nader — costing him the White House. In 2016, Hillary Clinton failed to connect with progressives costing her the presidency for the same reason.
I mention this because Joe Manchin announced on Meet The Press that he has been considering a run for 2024 as an Independent — and I can’t help but wonder “Who’s going to vote for him?” The most he could possibly hope for is taking enough votes away from Joe Biden so a Republican can win, but the only people who are usually interested in voting for a third party are the young progressives who hate Manchin even more than they hate Joe Biden. Manchin has primarily done nothing during the Biden Administration but kill the most progressive aspects of his agenda, fighting harder against Biden than he ever did against Trump. Meanwhile, the more right-wing aspects of the Democratic Party are the loyal partisans who will vote for whoever the nomination is.
In 2020, three Republicans — Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, and Mark Sanford — all ran in the primaries against Donald Trump. None of these three men were able to explain any coherent vision of the country that separated itself from Trump, and all three basically just promised to be the same as Trump but with less mean tweets. I mention this because, although I did make fun of those candidates, I at least understood the appeal among socially…