Get ready for the twist we never saw coming.
Maybe it’s wishful thinking; maybe it’s thoughtful commentary: Maybe it’s only Monday. But Joe Biden is not going to be the Democratic Party nominee.
And there was never any intention for him to be.
As pundits and political analysts begin to wonder openly if former Vice President Joe Biden even wants to be running for President, or indeed even wants the job, others are wondering just what is the plan to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.
If there even is a plan. “Elect democratic candidates” just isn’t going to cut it.
Biden’s constant verbal missteps, long the bane of Biden apologists everywhere, may have paled in the minds of liberal Democrats in comparison to the daily verbal barrages of Donald Trump. However, one party’s verbal misstep is the other political party’s outright lie; conservative fact-checkers have not missed the implications of Biden’s gaffe pile-up and it doesn’t compare favorably with that of Donald Trump.
Trump supporters consider Trump’s verbal gaffes, missteps, misstatements, misunderstandings, and exaggerations to be par for the course in politics, not that far outside the normal course of business as usual in Washington. With Joe Biden in the race, they can certainly count on him to demonstrate the strength of that argument.
“Your candidate lies!” is too easily countered with, “Your candidate lies, too.”
Insiders on both sides of the aisle have been shaking their collective heads since Joe Biden emerged as the safe-bet front-runner, running on electability and moderation.
As the campaign continues to unfold and the Democratic bullpen narrows to 10, each of Biden’s advantages has been quickly eroded, by the liberal electorate, by his party, and finally by the candidate himself.
Biden’s performance on the campaign trail has revealed his vulnerability as the front-runner. His long record, even his time in the Obama administration, far from making him more electable, has instead revealed him to be out of step with a Democratic Party that has moved radically to the left to embrace such formerly fringe progressive ideas like abolishing ICE, open borders, no more private health insurance and eliminating the electoral college.
Democrats can’t seem to decide if they want “Biden the moderate Democrat” who can be cast as a return to normalcy after the horrors of the Trump administration, or “Biden the radical leftist” who will embrace every outlandish proposal thrown to him by the progressive mob on Twitter.
Democrats aren’t going to be able to have it both ways; an embrace of the middle ground might save Democratic seats in the heartland, but it will deeply incense the current crop of devout progressives, perhaps beyond reclamation.
An overnight embrace of progressive policies may turn moderate voters away from the Democratic Party; though whether anything can turn them towards Donald Trump is another matter.
The Democratic Party lost Bernie voters to Trump in 2016. No matter how much the Democratic National Committee would like to ignore this fact, some people who voted for Obama in 2012, voted Trump in 2016.
A repeat of this performance may be occasioned if the DNC again chooses the establishment candidate and “sure-thing” over the people’s candidate.
Which brings us to Joe Biden. Biden simply does not have the power to unify the Democratic electorate. His progressive bona fides, after a long and illustrious career in public service, have been foolishly rendered null by a party that has moved too far left.
The genius of Joe Biden, and perhaps his purpose in this race, is to test the relative mettle of the other candidates. It could even be an attempt by the DNC to hedge its bets, making sure none of the candidates can make the game a runaway.
Joe Biden is plan B. as a place-holder for plan A.
As long as Joe Biden can be made to seem like plan A., the most the other candidates can aspire to is plan B. Plan A. stays available. Without Biden, the DNC loses its grip.
This way, bets are hedged: If Joe Biden shows himself up to the task, great. If he doesn’t, he has still taken enough points away from other candidates so there is still room for the DNC to maneuver or name a stronger candidate if they don’t like their other choices, also great.
If one of the remaining candidates does organically usurp Joe Biden, makes a good showing and is DNC approved, even greater.
So who is Joe Biden hiding?
Former First Lady Michelle Obama is constantly bandied about by political insiders and wishful thinkers alike. She says no, but Democrats certainly have a great many popular friends in Hollywood; could the nomination fall to someone we haven’t even considered yet? Donald Trump’s lack of political experience didn’t stop him from running, and winning.
The election isn’t in November; it isn’t until next November. Plenty of time for almost anything to happen. Donald Trump could get a legitimate primary challenge that would cost him at least some of his vast campaign war chest.
Michelle Obama could announce her intent to run and pull the party back to the middle ground, with steady rather than overnight progress towards a liberal progressive utopia, which is legislatively impossible at this juncture in any case.
The U.S. could enter a recession, which looks like the only thing likely to hurt Trump in 2020.
In the meantime, Biden seems more and more like a placeholder than a serious candidate. Which begs the question: Just who exactly is he holding that place for?
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)