In an America weary to the bone with establishment politicians, Joe Biden seems determined to prove that running an insider machine-style campaign straight out of the 20th century can endear him to millions of voters. It’s very odd and incredibly out of touch, yet Biden apparently believes that shamelessly courting corporate donors and touting consensus-building abilities with fellow Swamp creatures is somehow a recipe for success in a post-Trump political environment.
The former vice president on June 18 promised a roomful of rich donors that “no one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change,” for them under a Biden administration. If you were a wealthy donor in attendance who wants Biden to win for these very reasons, you certainly had to wince. Assuring middle-class voters that there would be no “fundamental change” in their living conditions surely would have gone over swimmingly in the days when the middle class was actually thriving in America. Alas, that era has disappeared, and even the most tone-deaf of Biden supporters has to realize that seeking to allay the financial concerns of the 1% when so many Americans are struggling is the furthest thing from a path to victory in a 2019 Democratic primary.
Biden publicly pledged to an affluent elite that if elected he would only make “marginal changes” that will not impact their filled coffers at all. By doing so, the self-proclaimed “most progressive” candidate in the field showed his aged instincts stand diametrically athwart the populist mentality currently flourishing in both major political parties. This is the man, after all, who spent the evening at the home of the chief lobbyist for Comcast, one of the most loathed companies in America, on the same day that he officially announced he was running for president. Who does that in 2019? Getting the mega-wealthy on your team will never go out of political style, of course, but publicly flaunting your standing with obscenely rich donors is straight out of a political past in which Biden seems to be stuck.
“Back in My Day”
Take Biden’s recent statement that he knew how to work with segregationist senators back in the day. His overall point, that you have to find a way to conduct business even with people who have staunchly different beliefs than you, is valid and even salutary. Attempts to somehow make him out to be racist over this are weak and won’t stick. But what most comes to mind when Biden talks of long-forgotten senators like James Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA) is just how much time he has logged in Washington. Eastland was born in 1904 and first served in the Senate in 1941. He pre-dates Pearl Harbor. Reminding voters that you were a sitting United States senator in the days when the Village People were the hot new thing is far more damaging than any negative spin on what you actually had to say. Does Biden really not have a single competent campaign adviser to tell him this?
The American people have increasingly seen the two-party politics of the past 30-odd years as a hollow shell game with themselves cast as the mark. A uniparty system flush with dirty Swamp dollars repeatedly gave voters thoroughly false choices between Bushes, Doles, McCains, and Romneys on one side, and Clintons, Gores, Kerrys, and Obamas on the other. The Trump Tsunami of 2016 was in large part the long overdue reaction to this endless parade of establishment mediocrity.
Yet here comes Joe Biden, with his 36 years of U.S. Senate experience and eight years as vice president tucked in his suit like a pocket handkerchief, haplessly trying to conjure nostalgia for a decrepit and thoroughly discreditable political environment that the vast majority of Americans despise. Voters of all political stripes are yearning to move away from shallow elected officials corrupted by Big Money and dedicated only to preserving their own long and comfortable careers. Given these sentiments, it is simply impossible for Status Quo Joe to win the Democratic nomination in 2020. If this is the campaign he is going to run, this man is going to lose.
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