For anyone who has been paying attention for 40 years and more, it seems obvious that Joe Biden could not believe the increasingly radical things he says. Dutifully following the old-style political handbook that served him well for decades but is woefully out of date in post-2016 America, Biden is using progressive talking points cherished by the leftist core of the Democratic Party only to drum up support with the blue base.
But danger lurks ahead. As Biden continues to bungle his delivery while tossing heated issues into the air like so many political footballs, the potential for a two-pronged backlash — by cynical progressives and unaligned voters turned off by insincere politicians — ratchets up considerably.
Trough Feeders Aren’t Radicals
With this in mind, declarations that “Joe Biden is a leftist” might be the wrong approach for Republicans hoping to re-elect President Donald Trump. “Joe Biden is a Swamp careerist who will say anything to keep his place at the public trough” may prove a more effective strategy. Trump campaign messaging appears to utilize Biden’s stated far-left positions on criminal justice reform, immigration, and other topics to highlight the rank opportunism of a political lifer itching for one final crack at the U.S. taxpayer piggybank.
Whether they like him or loathe him, Americans widely believe that Trump really wants to build a wall on our southern border with Mexico and truly desires to pursue fair trade policies with China. For better or worse, Trump brings an authenticity onto the playing field that his opposition seems to lack. It is a vitally important trait that a befuddled political and media establishment, not bearing this characteristic itself, has never been able to understand.
Hiding in his basement and parroting whatever social justice buzzword graces the front of The New York Times that day reveals nothing about Biden. But a lifetime spent in the halls of power in Washington, D.C., does. And a look at that tenure makes one thing clear: Biden doesn’t want to do anything; he wants to be something.
Capping off his long political career by grabbing the biggest brass ring of all is the full extent of Biden’s 2020 vision. Progressives fully realize this but hope they can manipulate him.
In April 2019, veteran progressive activist and staunch supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Norman Solomon, wrote of Biden at the leftist website Truthdig:
“Biden is the most reliable alternative for corporate America. He has what Sanders completely lacks — vast experience as an elected official serving the interests of credit-card companies, big banks, insurance firms and other parts of the financial services industry. His alignment with corporate interests has been comprehensive. It was a fulcrum of his entire political career when, in 1993, Sen. Biden voted yes while most Democrats in Congress voted against NAFTA.”
What has changed since then? Not much. Deep down inside, progressives know Biden is just another Company Man. Their firm determination to defeat Trump aside, people who believe in something may find it extremely galling to support a smiling face spouting language meant to woo them when they know those words are hollow at their core.
Conservatives have intimate experience with this sensation. It’s why the ideologically malleable Mitt Romney failed to defeat a weak and highly vulnerable incumbent President Barack Obama in 2012. A self-described former “progressive” Massachusetts governor running as the conservative alternative, Romney was sunk by his own fundamental inauthenticity far more than the positions he conveniently espoused at the moment. Democrats hoping hatred of Trump will inspire progressives to flock to Biden may be setting themselves up for the same disappointment felt eight years ago by Republicans who counted on hostility toward Obama to generate conservative enthusiasm for Milquetoast Mitt.
Moderate Does Not Mean Establishment
So-called “moderate” voters will see this Biden weakness emerge in brighter detail as summer turns to fall. Slogans promising a “return to normalcy” and stale references to being able to work with Republicans in the old uniparty heyday of 1988-2016 do not seem to resonate well with American voters in the 2020 political climate. The Biden campaign apparently feels moderate equates with status quo. Yet if there is one lesson candidates of all political stripes desperately needed to learn from neophyte outsider Trump’s stunning 2016 defeat of establishment queen Hillary Clinton it is that so many Americans are fed up with Washington elites who do not represent their interests.
Democrats appalled at the notion of having an avowed socialist at the head of their ticket in 2020 panicked and stumbled into an even greater error. They chose an aging, gaffe-prone figurehead of a Bush-Clinton-Obama-McCain-Romney era that voters left, center, and right are keen to put in their rearview mirrors forever.
Who is going to buy Corporate Joe Biden as a committed progressive? How many will warm up to Burisma-Ukraine-China Joe as a working-class populist? How likely is anyone going to see the 40-years-plus veteran of Washington insider politics as an authentic change agent?
Unvarnished self-interest is Biden’s Achilles’ heel. When Biden leaves the bubble-wrap protection of his handlers and appears on a debate stage with the unconventional Trump, this weak spot may be glaring to the naked eye of the American people. They could see Biden for what he is: the quintessential politician grasping for the plum office.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.