President Biden faces a “credibility crisis” as more Democrats say he should leave the race

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President Biden faces a “credibility crisis” as more Democrats say he should leave the race

July 8, 2024 -

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wis., Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wis., Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wis., Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

In normal times, I would probably be writing on Hurricane Beryl after it made landfall this morning in Matagorda, Texas; the storm is expected to cause significant flooding in the Houston area and beyond. Or I would focus on the surprising results in France’s parliamentary election, where leftists won the most seats, though no party won a majority. Or the vote in Iran that elected their first reformist president in two decades. Or the elections that empowered a center-left government in the UK.

But these are not normal times, as a growing chorus is calling on President Biden to end his candidacy, and some even say he should resign from office.

  • Mr. Biden continues to face what Axios describes as a “credibility crisis” as his support falls in the Democratic Party and yet another elected Democrat calls on him to exit the race.
  • Mark Warner, an influential centrist senator, is working to gather support among his Democratic colleagues to ask Mr. Biden to drop his reelection bid.
  • Major donors are defecting from the campaign.
  • In interviews with more than fifty Democrats, the New York Times found that many see Mr. Biden’s candidacy as unsustainable.
  • And a half-dozen top Democrats in the House of Representatives privately told colleagues yesterday that he should withdraw from the race.

Some are blaming the media for covering up Mr. Biden’s alleged cognitive deterioration. Others are accusing the media of exaggerating and exacerbating the crisis.

This story within the story tells us much about our cultural moment and illuminates a biblical path forward.

A crisis fueled by media?

You may not know the name Jürgen Habermas, but the German philosopher’s insights regarding Western democracy are vitally relevant to today’s conversation. A recent Foreign Policy article explains his assertion that democracy is not just about free and fair elections—it requires open processes that form public opinions which are then reflected by voters.

For example, the eighteenth century saw an increasing number of readers freely discussing novels in salons and coffeehouses. Eventually, these discussions turned to political questions, leading many to expect their leaders to represent their views and to act for them.

However, Habermas worried that capitalism’s increasing reliance on manipulative advertising techniques would help destroy a free and open public sphere. What he failed to foresee was the rise of mass media in the 1960s. Accordingly, he eventually came to view the widely respected and economically successful newspapers and TV news of that era as resources around which entire nations could congregate each evening.

That was then, this is now.

Digital and social media have largely disrupted the communal and collegial news experiences Habermas saw as vital to a thriving democracy. Instead, they have given each of us a megaphone for trumpeting our personal views—researched and reasoned or not—and headphones for listening only to those views with which we agree.

The controversy surrounding President Biden’s cognitive capacities is Exhibit A. Everyone with an opinion has the ability to publish it. Evidence and commentary that do not align with our personal position can be ignored. Perception becomes reality, or multiple realities.

And these “realities” will largely determine the future of the leader of the free world.

“You make known to me the path of life”

Last week we discussed James Davison Hunter’s lament that Americans have lost our “shared moral code” and the “common assumptions about the nature of a good society that underwrite a shared political life.” Apart from these, any society is likely to unravel, a disintegration amplified by the fragmented media that consumes much of our culture.

Our problem is even deeper, however. As St. Augustine observed:

Men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others.

According to psychologists, we deflect and project blame for our mistakes onto others to protect our own self-image.

Our best response lies in an assertion made three thousand years ago by someone who understood the depth of his personal failures and finitude. David prayed:

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you’” (Psalm 16:1–2).

He therefore made the decision God is calling us to make today: “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (v. 8). As a result, he could testify, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (v. 11).

“Peace to my head, light to my heart”

To sum up: we can put our trust in our elected leaders, but many will fail us. We can trust the media to inform us, but they are as fallen as we are. We can use social media to influence others, but we are as sinful as those we seek to persuade.

Or we can share an ancient Gaelic prayer first published in 1631 but as relevant as today’s headlines:

Christ Jesus, bend me to Thy will:
My feet to urge, my griefs to still;
That e’en my flesh and blood may be
A temple sanctified to Thee.

No rest, no calm, my soul may win,
Because my body craves to sin
Till Thou, dear Lord, Thyself impart
Peace to my head, light to my heart.

Will you experience such peace and light today?

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Monday news to know:

*Denison Forum does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in these stories.

Quote for the day:

“Our confidence is not in our love for Jesus, which is fragile, fickle, and limited, but in his love for us, which is unbreakable, faithful, and without conditions.” —Pete Scazzero

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