Democrats have entered the hand-wringing phase of the election season, fretting about Joe Biden and poised to leap from their windows.
I’ve been around this game long enough to tell you that this happens every time with every nominee. Everyone needs to chill. We’re all stuck at home anyway, so there’s no reason not to.
Assuming that the November balloting takes place (it’s mandated in the Constitution, if that’s any solace), I foresee six reasons why Uncle Joe is likely to oust the worst excuse for a human being to ever fail upward:
This election is a referendum on Trump. His predictably disastrous botching of the pandemic has made it so, and the verdict is already in.
By the time this pandemic wanes, Trump, by dint of his serial incompetence, will have presided over the highest civilian American death toll in history (exceeding the Civil War’s 50,000). Try running for re-election on that record. And did I mention that he can no longer claim credit for a robust economy?
Government experience takes precedence. In 2016, a fatal share of voters, fed up with the Clintons, took a flyer on an “outsider” who’d never served a day in any elective office. How’s that working out? If nothing else, this pandemic has likely (I stress likely) taught a sufficient number of naifs that in matters of life and death, it’s really better to be governed by feds who know what they’re doing.
Joe Biden may not be exciting, and he may not pack the rafters, but he has already assembled a smart cadre of public health advisers to guide his response to the pandemic. Back on March 12, he released a comprehensive pandemic fight plan. Last week, he shared his thoughts about how and when to reopen America.
Granted, all his moves thus far have garnered insufficient attention — the media is currently mesmerized by Trump’s daily propaganda show — but it’s early yet. The out-party nominee will get his say, and will draw the competence contrast, when the battle is fully joined.
The empathy chasm. The current White House occupant celebrates the mounting death toll by toasting his “ratings” and boasting that he’s number one on Facebook. His challenger has suffered grievous losses in his personal life (a wife, a daughter, a son) and shares his pain in the presence of those who have suffered similar loss. Timing is everything, in politics as in life. Uncle Joe’s ministrations will resonate in this year of tragedy.
The health care issue. Remember why Trump and the Republicans were drowned in the House blue wave of 2018? And why they lost the national popular vote margin by nearly 9 percent? Because their relentless attempts to cripple or kill Obamacare triggered a huge backlash, even in normally Republican-leaning suburban districts. Now we have a pandemic, and people are losing their health coverage. Trump’s longstanding hostility to Obamacare looks even worse. Biden’s reluctance to endorse full government health care will tick off some Bernie Bros, but his defense of Obamacare, and his support for a public option, will be more than enough to draw a favorable contrast with Trump.
Goodbye to the “socialist” bogeyman. Trump and the GOP yearned to run against Bernie in order to conjure the evils of socialism. But not only have they been denied Bernie, they’ve lost that phony issue as well. How can they scream about socialism when a pandemic is compelling Republicans to spend trillions of government dollars? There’s an old joke that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. This year, a liberal is a conservative who needs a handout.
Some historical perspective, please. Democrats always freak out about their nominee. They need to get a grip. I covered the 2008 Democratic Convention, and I remember that people were worried that Barack Obama would lose the race. He wound up winning the biggest Democratic majority since LBJ in 1964.
And in April 1992, presumptive nominee Bill Clinton was running third in the polls — behind incumbent George Bush and nutty Ross Perot. I was covering that race as well, and that month I described Clinton as “the laggard runner in a three-man marathon, a leaky vessel that had dropped anchor in the Bermuda Triangle.”
Clinton went on to become the first Democrat since FDR to win two elections.
So skip the woe for Uncle Joe. Trump got himself impeached for trying to smear his foe at the starting gate. Just ask yourself why he tried.
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at email@example.com