Hope and Change: The Sequel

Joe Biden is not a socialist. He is not Donald Trump. But is the Biden “safe bet” really going to pay off for the Democratic Party?

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Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the Moving America Forward Forum hosted by United for Infrastructure at the Student Union at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. February 16, 2020. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

Hope and Change: Part 2

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg may have Obama’s speeches, speech patterns and mannerisms memorized, or perhaps it’s just a really bizarre coincidence, but it is Joe Biden who is most intent on riding the coattails of the beloved former president.

While it may be difficult for most people to see Joe Biden, a career politician who has spent decades holding elected office, as the “Change Candidate” Barack Obama once was, that is exactly how Biden is being billed by a Democratic Party eager to propel him to victory.

Hope and change worked once before, you see. And Joe Biden was elected to the highest office in the land once before- well, almost.

Joe Biden 2020, is a rerun.

Like Hollywood, stuck in an endless cycle of re-boots, remakes, updates, sequels and prequels, the Democratic Party seems overly obsessed with the sure thing.

Part of the reason for this is money. The higher the stakes, the more decision-makers want authority over the final product.

One reason Hollywood blockbusters have become so “cookie-cutter” has to do with their increasingly gargantuan budgets. People investing upwards of $500 million on a movie will want a say in the production of said movie. The more money on the line, the more important people will want to sign-off on every creative decision.

Thus, moviegoers get to enjoy another tired retread of Spiderman, which is exactly like the one Hollywood made so much money on 15-years ago. Or we get a live-action version of an old cartoon classic like Disney’s “The Lion King”-one that cleaned up at the box office in its time.

If you want to make a movie that costs $100,000 to produce, you can do whatever you want. If someone else has put half a billion dollars on the line for a movie, they are going to want a say.

So too in the Democratic Party.

The more money major Democratic donors pump into these presidential campaigns, the more they expect their bets to pay off. That means Democratic donors and party leadership, like Hollywood execs, will elect to play it safe.

An increasing number of important Democrats, anxious to take the sensible approach, are prone to play-it-safe bets like Joe Biden. Boat-rocking socialist wild-cards like Bernie Sanders need not apply.

Sanders is the political equivalent of Hollywood giving a director like Stanley Kubrick full creative control over a project that everyone has invested so heavily in, they can’t afford to outsource responsibility that completely.

This conundrum often puts powerful investors in a difficult place. For instance:

Disney has reportedly tried to attract George Lucas back to the Star Wars franchise; his caveat, Lucas wants full creative control.

Of course he does; George Lucas knows that too many cooks in the kitchen ruins the dish.

If Disney wants a George Lucas level Star Wars, it will have to roll the dice on the creative prowess of George Lucas. It might not be a safe enough bet; leaving it all to one man, even one as talented and proven as George Lucas, is scary to studio money managers.

It is a modern catch-22: Iron-fisted financial control over creative projects like block-buster movies is strangling the very creativity executives would most like to cash-in on; but releasing that control to artists is seen as too risky.

After all, some great musicians- when given their head by reluctant music studios- have sometimes produced albums so off-the-wall, so different from the platinum-selling music those artists made in the past, that they fell flat.

On the other hand, some movies with tiny budgets, by brand-new directors, touching on subject matter no one has ever tried before have been the greatest movies of all time.

Which brings the Democratic Party, Inc. to Joe Biden.

Medicare for All- not a safe bet. Expanding Obamacare, even with all its problems, much safer bet.

Bernie Sanders, wild card. Joe Biden, proven track record.

But Biden’s drawbacks are far more serious than a mere “propensity for gaffes and a lack of clearheadedness on the campaign trail”. The Chicago Tribune must think it is doing the Democratic Party a favor by running interference for Biden against Bernie Sanders.

But like the movie execs determined to plow ahead with “Avengers: Reimagined Again”, while refusing to take a chance on talented new directors and screenplays, Democrats are clinging to the old ways because they seem like a much safer bet.

But like Disney being too afraid to turn over complete creative control of Star Wars to George Lucas- Star Wars to George Lucas!- Democrats are too terrified of losing money, and losing to Donald Trump, to make a sensible decision.

Joe Biden is not the best person in the race; Bernie Sanders is.

Voters have made it perfectly clear to Democrats, just as movie-goers have been making it perfectly clear to Hollywood, that business as usual just isn’t going to cut it.

Democratic voters made it perfectly clear in 2016 that an establishment candidate- like Hillary Clinton- simply does not represent the will of the American people anymore.

Instead of listening, the Democratic Party is saying “look, we know Bernie sounds like a new and exciting idea. But exciting ideas don’t always pan out. Now, if you want to make another Hulk movie…those usually do pretty well.”

Superhero movie remakes, like Joe Biden, may be plodding and uncharismatic, but they are usually at least mostly decent and a solid, smart bet for a studio to at least recoup their investment.

Which is why we have so many that most of us don’t even bother going to the movie theatre anymore.

Democratic Party leaders want the safe bet because too much is on the line to take chances. Why else would the Democratic Party have ended up whittling, from the largest and most diverse presidential field of candidates in history…two old white men?

Joe Biden is the superhero re-tread of the Democratic Party. And no one is going to pay good money to see that movie. They might stream it, later- when they aren’t streaming old reruns of Baywatch.

If there isn’t anything better to watch.


(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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