After Super Tuesday, the race for the Democratic nomination is now between former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. The two veteran politicians obviously have dramatically different policy positions and dramatically different views on how to move the party forward.
There are several reasons why making Biden the nominee, while seemingly the safe choice, could turn out to be a major mistake for Democrats. They are:
First: Biden is a Gaffe Machine. The former veep admitted this himself during an appearance in Missoula, Montana in December 2018. Biden has a long history of verbal flubs, and over the course of the last year, it seems to be getting worse. Just this week, Biden could not remember the words of the Declaration of Independence, one of the nation’s foundational documents.
Possibly the biggest single advantage Democrats have in the 2020 election is that Donald Trump clearly lacks the mental abilities to capably handle the job of President of the United States. Choosing a nominee whose own mental abilities are open to question nullifies this advantage.
Second: The “Touch Feely” Problem. There have been numerous women who have reported having uncomfortable encounters with Vice President Biden. He has been accused of improperly touching many women and kissing others, and often being in much closer than appropriate proximity.The New York Post compiled a dozen of Biden’s most “creepy” moments in a montage: https://nypost.com/2019/03/30/a-history-of-joe-bidens-most-touchy-feely-moments/
In the #metoo era, should Democrats really be nominating someone with a serious history of inappropriate contact? One of the major advantages Democrats have against Trump is his history as a serial sexual abuser. It helped to sway many suburban women. They will be crucial in November. Let’s pick a nominee without a #metoo history.
Third: Biden is Not a Progressive. Throughout his entire fifty-year career in politics, Biden has been on the conservative side of the Democratic party.
In the 1970s, he was one of the primary foes of desegregation, authoring the most anti-busing bill in history.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Biden was a hard core “tough on crime” Democrat. He was the primary author of the 1994 Crime Bill, which has had a devastating impact on the African Anerican community.
In 1990, Biden bungled the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings, leading to the ultra conservative Thomas sitting on the Supreme Court for the last 30 years.
Biden supported George W Bush on the PATRIOT Act and on the Iraq War.
BIden has consistently supported trade policies which have cost American jobs, including NAFTA back in 1993.
As the Senator from Delaware, Biden has consistently supported the banking and credit card industries against the interests of consumers. Biden also supported the Wall Street bailout in 2008.
Biden has been conservative on abortion policies ever since the 1970s.
Between 2001 and 2009, Biden was actually more conservative than Hillary Clinton was in the Senate.
If you add all these groups up that Biden is on the wrong side of: African Americans, peace activists, civil liberties activists, labor unions, and pro-choice women -- you have a fairly large bloc of the Democratic party, especially the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
Bottom line: Democrats should nominate someone whose policies are closer to Franklin Roosevelt than Ronald Reagan. If you showed Biden’s record to FDR, the late president would suspect Joe was a Republican.
Fourth: When Democrats play it safe, They Lose. When Democrats have nominated the “default” candidate it has generally ended badly for them.
In 2016, Clinton won the nomination largely because it was “her turn.” Clinton failed to exploit the economic anxieties of voters in the Midwest, choosing to campaign on “morning in America” instead. She ceded those voters to Trump, and as a result lost Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In 2004, John Kerry was the safe candidate. He ran a safe campaign. While George Bush won because the election was rigged in Ohio, Kerry could have made it impossible for Bush to cheat with a more aggressive campaign.
Much of the same applies to Al Gore in 2000, who got the nomination because it was his turn. Yes, he won the popular vote and won only because he cheated in Florida, but Gore lost because he played it safe.
In contrast, in 2008 Barack Obama was the unsafe candidate. He ran on a platform of change and won. The same in 1992 - Bill Clinton ran on a platform of change and won. The logic even goes back to 1976, when Jimmy Carter ran on a platform of change and won.
Finally: The Economy is NOT as Great as Everyone Thinks. Statistically, the economy looks great. But behind the statistics lies the reality that millions of people who suffered during the recession of 2007 and 2008 have still not recovered. For those people, Trump’s talk of a great economy seems absurd.
Democrats could energize those voters by proposing a bold agenda that actually promises to improve their lives. Joe Biden will not propose that agenda during the 2020 election. Hillary lost because she did not reach out to those voters in 2016, and Democrats will lose again in 2020 if they fail to reach out to the left behind voters.
For each of these reasons, Democrats need to take a serious second look at Biden’s entire record before embracing him as their champion.