On April 29, former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were having a sit-down interview onABC’s “Good Morning America.”
It’s two months until the first debate among the 20-plus Democratic candidates. The first primary vote isn’t until Feb. 3, 2020. So why is Biden being treated like a nominee instead of one of many candidates?
Mainstream media is desperate for a match between old white guys for the 2020 election, but both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm elections mitigate against that. Set aside what happened in 2016: Russian interference, voter suppression in the first presidential election since the Voting Rights Act was eviscerated by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a GOP candidate running on knee-jerk racism and misogyny. Hillary Clinton still won the actual votes by 3 million. And the U.S. is the only country in the world where receiving the most votes doesn’t ensure victory.
Unlike 2016, the 2018 midterms had zero gray areas: Voters chose women, people of color, change. The 116th Congress is more female, non-white and LGBTQ than any in U.S. history. The newest members, to a one, replaced — wait for it — old white establishment Democrats, like Biden was for his 36 years in Congress.
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), the 116th Congress’s most visible member — and one of its most progressive — replaced a 10-term white male Democrat in the House leadership, stunning the establishment. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) became the first Native American and only second out lesbian elected to Congress, besting an entrenched white male. Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) is now vice-chair of the prestigious House Oversight Committee. Hill’s candidacy was termed “the most millennial ever,” but the openly bisexual candidate has obliterated any notion of millennial slackerism — and again bested a white-male incumbent 20 years her senior. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) became the first black woman ever elected from Massachusetts, knocking out a 12-term, 67-year-old establishment Democrat.
The first presidential election I covered as a reporter was 1988 — the second time Biden ran for president. The 2020 election will be his fourth run. He has never gotten out of Iowa, where the first votes are cast. What has sundered Biden in the past includes everything from plagiarism of U.K. politician Neal Kinnock’s speech to his vote for the Iraq War to simple lack of excitement over his candidacy. What should end his run in 2020 are those complications plus his authorship of the 1994 Crime Bill, which effectively became a conduit for the prison pipeline that has sent thousands of young men of color to jail; his support of credit-card and loan companies over consumers, which impeded average Americans drowning in debt from discharging bankruptcies; his egregious treatment of Anita Hill, which put Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court and ruined Hill’s reputation at the time; and his “hands on” behavior toward women, about which several young Democratic women have complained.
Even if we set aside Biden’s past transgressions, he is not the candidate for now. After teasing a run for literally four years, Biden entered the race with a video. He then went directly to what Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the most progressive candidate in the race, called the “swanky” Chestnut Hill mansion of Comcast’s David Cohen, to be feted in a private fundraiser of corporate donors that netted a half-million in campaign funds. While the most progressive candidates are running against corporate money, Biden is taking it hand over fist. Yet Biden launched in Pittsburgh at a union event on April 29, claiming he’s “always been a union man.”
He’s always been a politician looking for a union vote while taking the money of upper management and lobbyists.
Biden has made Philadelphia the center of his campaign operation. Falling in lock-step with his candidacy are a slew of Philadelphia Democrats, including former Gov. Ed Rendell and former Mayor Michael Nutter, as well as, alas, my own congressman, Rep. Dwight Evans. I have covered all these men in numerous elections. I like all of them and have voted for all of them.
But they could not be more wrong in their choice of Biden, who will be pushing 80 on Inauguration Day and has literally not one piece of policy going into a race he asserts he must join for the good of the country.
Biden claimed he didn’t want President Obama’s endorsement after Obama had already met with Sen. Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke. Yet Biden’s campaign literature reads, “Joe’s running” with a big photo of him and Obama.
Being the ex-VP is not policy. Obama’s record, which is not without issue, is not Biden’s. Biden’s record is his 36 years in the Senate and a slew of votes he would rather voters ignore. While there are no policy ideas from Biden other than “I’d like to take Trump behind the woodshed,” Biden is against Medicare for All, which 71 percent of Americans support; the Green New Deal and ending college debt.
Biden has always been a centrist. Among the current slate of candidates, few lean as far right as he does. Those pushing Biden’s candidacy hardest are all GOP pundits, like The View’s Ana Navarro and Meghan McCain.
No matter how centered Biden’s campaign is in Philadelphia, his history is not one that centers the electorate of Philadelphia — a city that is majority minority, majority people under 50, majority poor.
Certainly in a general election, we will all vote for the Democratic nominee — whomever that is — over Trump. But the primary demands we choose the best candidate who can serve two terms and eviscerate the Draconian policies Trump has put in place.
Biden is simply not that candidate. He wasn’t the best candidate in 1984, 1988 or 2008, and he most definitely is not the best candidate now.