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Cornel West could be a spoiler in the 2024 election

Jul 24, 2023

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It appears that the general election will probably feature President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump as the main contenders. But third-party candidates, such as Cornel West from the Green Party, are attempting to secure a spot on the ballot.

Straight Arrow News contributor David Pakman asserts that West’s progressive candidacy could potentially divide the Democratic vote. He argues that voting for West might have a similar impact as voting for Trump.

We then talk about Cornel West. Cornel West has significantly less support than does Bobby Kennedy Jr. However, Cornel West is not running as a Democrat. Cornel West is running Green Party. Cornel West may end up on the ballot in some states that would be very close between Biden and whoever is the Republican nominee. And in those cases, it is mathematically feasible that Cornel West could play spoiler. The math of this is very simple.

Imagine that if it were Biden versus Trump in North Carolina, Biden wins by 50,000 votes. But you introduce Cornel West, and all of a sudden Cornel West pulls 40,000 votes from Biden, and then it also encourages some people to vote Trump or whatever. The point is, Cornel West plays spoiler, and a state that would have otherwise been won by Joe Biden goes to Donald Trump. Is that a feasible scenario? Yes it is. Is that a reason that Cornel West shouldn’t run? That’s up to him. We’ve been doing this since Ralph Nader in the year 2000 with Bush v. Gore.

I’m not here to admonish anybody for anything. If Cornel West says, “I don’t care that I might make it so that Trump wins instead of Biden,” he doesn’t care. What am I going to tell him? He’s gonna run. Furthermore, if you as a voter don’t care that a vote for Cornel West may end up being a vote for Trump, then go ahead and vote the way you want.

Let’s talk about the Democratic primary. Joe Biden is the president and Joe Biden is running for re-election. When an incumbent president runs for re-election, there is not a quote, “real primary” for that party. This is not unique to Democrats, Republicans do the same thing. As an individual, I want competition of ideas, of individuals, I don’t want anything to be a foregone conclusion, everything should be earned, I would love to see debates. I also understand that if you’re the Democratic or Republican Party, and you have an incumbent president running for re-election, your best bet is to let them get on that ticket because of the power of incumbency, rather than trying to replace the president with a challenger. So, I understand why the DNC is not having debates. 

 

This now gets us to what is happening on the Left, so we’ll exclude the Republican primary for this discussion. What’s happening on the Left within and outside of the Democratic Party. Within the Democratic Party, Joe Biden is being challenged by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Marianne Williamson, and I’m sure there are others as well, less prominently, who are probably polling zero or close to zero, I’m not going to name every single person, but most notably by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson. 

 

Outside of the Democratic Party, but from the Left, at least, nominally, there is also a challenge, probably more than one. But the one getting the most attention is Cornel West, professor and philosopher, etc. Cornel West initially announced he was running under the People’s Party. It seems no one informed him before making that decision, hey, by the way, the People’s Party doesn’t have ballot access, so you quite literally cannot win. So, Cornel West then said I’m actually going to run to be the Green Party candidate. I think only, I don’t think he’s also running for the People’s Party. I think he’s switched. But maybe he’s running for both, I don’t know. But let’s focus on the Green Party. 

 

There is now concern among some on the Democratic side, that the Cornel West candidacy, and the Bobby Kennedy Jr. candidacy — we can say Marianne Williamson as well, but I think ultimately, she’s not going to be as much of a factor as Bobby Kennedy Jr. — that both of these challenges, one from within and one from without the Democratic Party, are bad for Joe Biden.

And I will give you the arguments for each. 

 

The argument that Bobby Kennedy Jr’s challenge of Joe Biden is bad for Biden follows the line of it can weaken Biden by dividing Democrats during the primary, such that when Biden ultimately is the nominee in the general election in November of 2024, people will be divided as a result of the fact that Bobby Kennedy ran against him, and they might not vote for Biden. I think that that’s a relatively weak claim. I believe that, again, it doesn’t seem that there’s going to be debates. I don’t believe Bobby Kennedy Jr. is really convincing too many Democrats — the polling I’ve seen is mostly from right leaning independents, MAGA people, etc. I don’t think a lot of Democrats are really behind Bobby Kennedy Jr. And to the extent that Bobby Kennedy Jr. doesn’t try to run third party or write in, I don’t believe he’s going to damage Joe Biden. 

 

We then talk about Cornel West. Now, Cornel West has significantly less support than does Bobby Kennedy Jr. However, Cornel West is not running as a Democrat, Cornel West is running Green Party. Cornel West may end up on the ballot in some states that would be very close between Biden and whoever is the Republican nominee. And in those cases, it is mathematically feasible that Cornel West could play spoiler, the math of this is very simple. Imagine that if it were Biden versus Trump in North Carolina, Biden wins by 50,000 votes. But you introduce Cornel West, and all of a sudden Cornel West polls for 40,000 votes from Biden and then it also encourages some people to vote Trump or whatever. The point is, Cornel West plays spoiler and a state that would have otherwise been bought won by Joe Biden goes to Donald Trump. Is that a feasible scenario? Yes it is. Is that a reason that Cornel West shouldn’t run? That’s up to him — okay. We’ve been doing this since Ralph Nader in the year 2000 with Bush v. Gore., okay. 

 

I’m not here to admonish anybody for anything. If Cornel West says, I don’t care that I might make it so that Trump wins instead of Biden, he doesn’t care. What am I going to tell him? He’s gonna run. Furthermore, if you as a voter don’t care that a vote for Cornel West may end up being a vote for Trump, then go ahead and vote the way you want. I’m not here to admonish people or to scold people. What I will say is remember when in 2016, I talked to you about the Supreme Court. And I said, if Trump beats Hillary, he may get one, two or three Supreme Court picks. It could lead to one of the most right wing courts in decades. They’re going to try to get rid of abortion, Roe v. Wade, they’re going to roll back voting rights. They’re going to do all sorts of horrible things. And they did. Okay. My request is, just keep that in mind. If you don’t care, you don’t care. But don’t pretend that it’s not a reality. It may be the same thing in 2024.

 

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