Opinion: George Clooney Doesn't Get to Decide if Joe Biden Runs. Black Voters Should

Andrew Harnik/Getty Images
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

During the 2020 presidential election cycle, it was the Black vote that catapulted then-candidate Joe Biden’s Democratic primary victory. With the influence of longtime congressman James E. Clyburn’s endorsement in South Carolina, Black voters ensured that Biden would be the Democratic Party’s nominee. With their steadfast support, Biden would run alongside Kamala Harris and help her make history as the first woman—and Black candidate—to become the nation’s vice president.

In 2024, Biden must once again rely on this very consequential base of voters to help salvage his campaign. Only this time, it’s no longer a primary up for grabs—but his own political party that’s fraught with questions of whether or not he’s mentally fit to lead for another four years. Everyone—from a growing coalition of Democratic elected officials to celebrity donors/supporters, such as superstar George Clooney and Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings—is asking Biden to step aside.

But so far, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and its supporters are standing firm on Biden as the party’s nominee—and essentially Black voters are as well.

Democrats Give Joe Biden Just Hours to Save His Second Term Run

Despite the ebb and flow of GOP increases among Black voters during the last presidential election, this influential demographic is the Democratic Party’s most loyal base, with over 80 percent of its voters showing up for them in recent decades. Despite the historic obstacles and barriers that Black Americans have faced from leaders of both political parties, the Democratic Party has undoubtedly become the party of Black voters.

So when President Biden recently had a private meeting with CBC members asking for support—and he received such unyielding support from them—that means something. It sends a clear message that if the most loyal members of the Democratic Party aren’t ready to give up on Biden, should others be so quick to do so either?

When Biden recently described his dissenters as his party’s “elite,” he wasn’t mincing his words. Too often, the most privileged often feel entitled to cherry-pick its leaders and are often spared the vast consequences of whichever candidate is elected either way. In 2017, the celebrity and wealthy donors of Biden didn’t face the same harsh realities that everyday Americans, especially those who are Black and brown, of a Trump administration. Sure, they might have been mortified by a Trump presidency, but they remained rich and connected in ways that others weren’t.

Black voters are more pragmatic and practical in how they elect leaders. In 2020, they understood that an older, politically astute white man, such as Biden, was better equipped to take on a powerful incumbent like Donald Trump. Sexism and other biases had harmed Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016—but Biden was the safer (and arguably wiser) choice to pull off a Democratic victory in 2020. As a result, the logic often made about Biden supporters now is that he’s the only one who has defeated Trump—and still can as the incumbent. Putting up a new candidate at the eleventh hour can create more problems than it solves.

Black voters are more risk-averse because they recognize that their livelihoods are the ones most likely to be under threat if things go wrong. It’s easy for Clooney to write an op-ed for The New York Times telling Biden to drop out—but for Black voters who have backed him for years, not so much. Because new questions will emerge: Will the alternative be better or worse? And how much of a risk are they willing to take, given the current political climate?

It’s already been suggested by several Black leaders that if the president were to respectfully drop out, Vice President Harris should be next in line to lead. Her involvement in the 2020 election helped motivate even more voters to the polls and raised millions for the Democratic Party. It’s easier to see Black voters pivoting toward her than witnessing a brokered Democratic National Convention a few short months away from November.

Time is of the essence. If one group of voters gets to determine the fate of Biden’s re-election chances, it should be those people who can make or break the Democratic Party this election: Black voters.

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