“It was always headed here” — to a rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, according to Politico’s Adam Wren.

“But in the span of a few days, the wrinkled and sagging reality staring the nation in the face has become the defining issue of the 2024 campaign,” he went on, citing Special Counsel Robert Hur’s scathing report on Biden’s memory and cognition.

Democrats’ efforts to use the courts to keep Trump off the ballot have largely failed, with the Supreme Court signaling serious doubts that state officials can simply “disqualify” Trump based on the Fourteenth Amendment and their own arbitrary judgment.

Earlier this month, the court heard oral arguments on the Colorado case, with Justice Elena Kagan (a Democratic appointee) noting, “I think that the question that you have to confront is why a single state should decide who gets to be president of the United States… It seems quite extraordinary, doesn’t it?”

At the same time, Democrats rightly fear a backlash if states start limiting voters’ options.

“I have very, very strong reservations about all of this,” Democratic strategist David Axelrod says. “I do think it would rip the country apart if he were actually prevented from running, because tens of millions of people want to vote for him.”

Which leaves a possibility that Democrats are only now starting to voice out loud — a brokered convention.

Fifty-six years ago next month, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that he would not seek his party’s nomination for president again. His very late exit from the race, prompted by a disappointing performance in the New Hampshire primary and an impending loss in Wisconsin, set off a scramble ahead of the summer party convention in Chicago.

Several primaries, multiple violent street riots and one Democratic candidate’s tragic assassination later, party mandarins chose Johnson’s heir apparent, Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Will 2024 be déjà vu all over again for the Democrats? Maybe in some respects.

Progressives, now as then, are feeling desperate. Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Clarence Page says “my Democratic friends, as well as Never-Trump Republicans, have begun to murmur about what to do with dear old Joe… the whispers and anxiousness within the Democratic Party haven’t died down as poll after poll shows Biden with the kinds of numbers that typically are perilous for presidents seeking reelection. Who knows what happens between now and August, when delegates meet in Chicago?”

On Saturday, “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) stood outside a Michigan polling place and urged Democrats to vote against President Biden in her state’s primary. “Don’t make us even more invisible,” she told voters. “Right now, we feel completely neglected and just unseen by our government.”

For now, Biden denies any intention of stepping down. His allies in the media are discouraging any such talk.

“Replacing Biden as the Democratic nominee at this point would be a herculean, if not impossible, task,” claims Vox’s Christian Paz. “It would take overcoming two kinds of obstacles: real-world practical challenges, and the more hypothetical but still important political challenges that exist for any potential Biden replacement.”

Brokered conventions have occurred before, however. Democratic presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt won the White House after a brokered convention in 1932; on the Republican side, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower won the presidency following a brokered convention in 1952.

So it’s a possibility — and one the progressive wing is eyeing more and more.

Who would replace Biden at the top of the ticket? It likely wouldn’t be Vice President Kamala Harris. As Newsweek notes, “Kamala Harris’ already poor approval rating fell further during 2023, with one prominent political scientist telling Newsweek her unpopularity ‘could end up being a difference-maker’ in the 2024 presidential election.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appears to be the dark horse, despite the shambles that is today’s California. Newsom is defending Biden in public, but he’s taking more and more of the spotlight for himself. His debate with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) placed him “squarely in the public eye as a leading Democratic figure.”

“Plan B” is in the works. It’s such an open secret that it’s not an open secret anymore.

Biden cannot resign now, because that would make Harris his presumptive successor. Instead, the way that progressives are pressuring Biden to step aside is at the convention, where Democrat power brokers can anoint a new nominee.

The Biden administration may be dismissing all such talk, but that’s not stemming the tide of think-pieces on Biden’s mental fitness, even from his erstwhile allies. That’s because history has a habit of being made.