Posts Tagged ‘Biden’

Bernie: time to support Biden

March 11, 2020

In any human endeavor, rationality demands asking what purpose is served. It’s not always obvious.

What purpose is served now by Sanders continuing to campaign? After the latest primaries, his probability of nomination is approximately zero. No: make that precisely zero.

Thank goodness. His nomination could have ensured Trump’s re-election. That in fact is the main reason why most Democrats have voted against him. And so many doing so proves how wrong was the argument that he’d be the strongest nominee. Most Democrats recognized that Sanders is not what the nation most needs: not another upheaval, but a president of simple decency, honesty, responsibility, and sanity. That’s Biden.

Showcased by his speech last night. What a stark contrast with the blowhard asshole in the White House. I’m increasingly confident sanity will finally prevail.

Left wingers are always whining that “the system” unfairly screws them (a mirror-image to Trumpian grievance politics). They relentlessly claimed the media buried news about opposition to the Iraq war. It got relentless coverage, in my recollection. Likewise with Sanders, always the complaint he isn’t covered enough, equally bogus.

Now it’s “the establishment” and “Wall Street corporate billionaires” in some imagined conspiracy to thwart Bernie’s candidacy. When what’s really thwarting it is voters.

They aren’t being manipulated by some “establishment.” The surge to Biden is an entirely spontaneous one, with Democrats sizing up the field and deciding on their own. On Super Tuesday Biden won some states he didn’t even campaign in. It’s black voters especially who show the good sense to reject Bernie’s stridency and embrace instead an achievable vision of America at its best. Yes, after all the shit they’ve suffered, still it’s they who most believe in what America means, bless their hearts.

And in the end it may be said it was they who saved the country. They’re the ones with the greatest role in keeping the Democratic party from barreling down the kind of rabbit hole that’s swallowed up Republicans. This former conservative Republican feels very comfortable having left the deranged cult my party became, joining instead the one retaining its sanity.

To Sanders voters: you are passionate idealists. You wanted radical change. I didn’t agree with it, but I get it, and respect it. You did have a fair argument to make; you made it well; you didn’t persuade a majority. That’s democracy. Democracy means you have to accept it when the other side wins.

In 2016 we had a revolution by the populist right. Sandernistas wanted a revolution too. Van Jones, on CNN last night, said what we’re seeing is a revolution after all — a revolution by the middle.

Many Bernie Bros say they won’t vote for Biden. On a radio call-in, I heard one declare he’s looking forward to saying “I told you so” on November 4. How can you back Sanders but relish another Trump term? This is nuts. It’s why I say we need to restore sanity to our politics, to combat such toxic divisiveness.

Van Jones also said Bernie must now decide whether to be a uniter or divider. He should end his campaign and urge his supporters to unite behind Biden. Full-throated support for Biden will make Sanders a hero. Continuing an effort to tear Biden down can only serve to help Trump.

Super Tuesday and American democracy

March 4, 2020

As Super Tuesday loomed, I hoped for a triumph of sanity — but feared its last stand.

Thank you, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, tribunes of sanity who did the right thing. And to voters who took a cold hard look at Sanders — and decided “uh uh.” It seems the moral imbecility of his praising Castro hurt him. Virtually everywhere, he got fewer votes than in 2016. Biden won states he hadn’t even campaigned in. He is now the clear leader in popular votes and delegates. This broad-based victory will strengthen his momentum. Sanders will continue to torment Biden, but cannot be nominated.

So enough already with this foolishness of wanting on “outsider” who will “shake things up.” We got that last time. Now let’s please put things back together, with a president who actually knows what he’s doing, actually understands the world, and is actually a decent honest human being.

Voter hatred for “politicians” had long been intensifying. Yet who elected those people? The real problem is politicians heeding the uninformed whims of voters who can’t say how many branches the federal government has or in what century the Civil War occurred. Politicians will do what they must, to coddle voters. Democracy would work a lot better without voters mucking it up.

A recent Michael Gerson column laments that the outsider shake-up fetish serves to encourage “unpleasant, ill-mannered loudmouths.” Trump unquestionably represents a collapse of civic decency. Sanders is not much better. Supporters may say they don’t like the nastiness, but wave it off as not really important. Gerson disagrees. The phenomenon, he says, has “blossomed into a crisis of democratic values.”

Here’s why. Democracy is not just voting. It’s a culture, with pluralism — different kinds of people getting along together — of the essence. This means respecting the legitimacy of opposing interests and viewpoints, engaging in rational persuasion, compromising with them, even accepting their victories.

That does not describe America’s political culture lately.

Trumpers blast Democrats as supposedly never accepting the 2016 election. But Republicans overplay that election result as a universal trump card. Meaning everyone with different views about anything should just shut up and go away. And any effort toward presidential accountability somehow disrespects Trump’s voters. As if Republicans don’t disrespect the greater number who actually voted against him. This is not how a democratic culture works. Elections do have consequences — but not the ending of debate and suppression of opposition.

Gerson comments that a politician’s promise “to burn down the house is visceral and emotional. That does not make institutional arsonists more sincere or wise.” Putting it mildly. The sad truth is that voters who want the house burned down are ignorant of what it’s made of. They do not understand democratic culture, nor the role of the institutions that sustain it. And what terrible consequences will ensue from their conflagration.

Call in the firefighters. That’s what Biden’s campaign is really mainly about, and I feel confident he can defeat Trump.

How Democrats in 2020 can make America great again

March 6, 2019

Democratic presidential hopefuls are scrambling to get right with the left — the party’s left-wing activist ideologues. Free college, Medicare for all, jobs for all, the big government “Green New Deal,” etc. Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez seem to be calling the tune.

Many of those activists glory in the word “socialism,” in an in-your-face kind of way. This is political insanity. Trump is eager to make 2020 a referendum on socialism. The activists fantasize winning it by just soothingly explaining that socialism merely means anything government does. Not true; but anyway, if that were really all they mean by “socialism,” and if their actual policies are so wonderful, then why not just advocate those policies without the albatross of so toxic a label as “socialism?” What branding genius. Might as well call it “Satanism.”

Michael Bloomberg has bowed out, judging that today’s Democratic party has no room for his kind of centrist moderation. But is that true? Is the broad base of Democratic voters really on board with the high-octane left-wing socialist populism? The Economist’s “Lexington” columnist (on U.S. politics) thinks not. While Republicans, by 2016, did go extreme en masse, the Democrats really haven’t. Their lefties may be the loudest; but the party is large; it contains multitudes.

Lexington points to the evidence of the midterms. Ocasio-Cortez was a fluke, not representative of most newly elected Democrats. Their voters’ main concern is opposing Trump, not a specific policy agenda. Indeed, most of them don’t see America as in a systemic or economic crisis such that the radical restructurings envisioned by the activist left are what’s needed. The crisis is Trump, and draining the Trump swamp will go far toward putting America right.

Of course, just being against Trump is not enough, and Democrats must be clear about how their administration will differ programmatically from his. But that shouldn’t mean veering far from the political center — a vast territory they should instead take this opportunity to seize.

Lexington thinks Bernie’s strong 2016 run was more about dissatisfaction with Clinton than support for his radicalism. And in November she lost not because of her policies but because of her personality and character image. So a different candidate, not radical left-wing policies, is the ticket for 2020.

Which brings us to Biden. If he were contending against a single white knight bedazzling the lefty activists, they’d likely overwhelm him. But their mojo is divided among a whole bunch of aspirants all trying to be Ocasio-Sanders. Biden would be nuts to join that scrum for the rabid vote, when he can instead grab the sober responsible center, practically all to himself. Which is where the party’s majority probably actually is. And against a fragmented field, he can mop up primaries with 30% of the vote (just like Trump did in the early 2016 primaries). Add in Biden’s aura of experience and gravitas, head-and-shoulders above all the rest, this is the path to the nomination. (Blocking Bloomberg’s path, the real reason he quit.) Biden offers the best prospect of steering the party out of its leftward lurch and preventing the nomination of a fringe-y candidate.

Many keep raising various points against Biden (not least his age). He’s not a perfect candidate. I used to be a Republican, remember, and was no Biden fan. But this is a perfect case for not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. In Biden-versus-Trump, Biden’s defects are molehills as against Trump’s mountains upon mountains. Biden is basically a good human being. I see him as the Democrat best positioned to slay the dragon. I would vote for him with more alacrity than ever in my life.

As Lexington observes, in 2016 too many voters went for the crazy option, and some at least are repenting. They won’t be receptive in 2020 to replacing one kind of crazy with another. What’s wanted instead is not fire-breathing radicalism but rather human decency, a steady hand, the tried-and-true, the reassuring and comfortable. The restoration of the fundamental principles, the ideals, the values, that truly did make America great.