Being a Democrat, even a nominal one like myself, is a lot like being a Mets fan. While there are plenty of teams in baseball with a losing record, the Mets are unique in their preferred style of losing: from ahead. Being a Mets fan means walking the dog in the 8th inning, feeling secure that a 12-run lead can’t possibly be overcome, and then returning home to find that lead has evaporated in the past twenty minutes and now you’re into extra innings. I found that constant disappointment so painful and frustrating that it turned me off to all sports by the time I was ten. Unfortunately, I remain a Democrat for lack of better options in our system, and that means having a similar experience once every four years.
Much like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden is leading in all of the polls among Democrats. And much like Hillary Clinton, he easily wins in theoretical matchups against his likely general election opponent, more than a year before the voting starts. And again, just like Hillary, he really doesn’t give a fuck what you think about his high-dollar fundraisers, where he offers the 1% solace and the reassurance that “nothing would fundamentally change” under his administration. Now there’s a campaign slogan. And in one more eerie similarity to the doomed Clinton campaign, the lack of genuine enthusiasm for his candidacy is such that he draws smaller crowds to his events than you’d get for an REO Speedwagon reunion tour, in spite of his huge polling lead.
There are a lot of differences between Democratic and Republican primary voters, but none are more important to electoral outcomes than the way they choose their candidates. Republicans pick nominees that they feel passionate about. Democrats pick nominees that they think other people will feel passionate about, or at the very least, find tolerable enough to vote for them. As we’ve seen time and time again, trying to imagine what non-Democrats are going to find appealing is a fool’s errand, and Democrats, on the whole, aren’t very good at it. This is partly because of the basic premise that they start from: ‘who’s the best person we can field that will appeal to inland-dwelling deplorables?’ When you’re trying to find a candidate who can win over who you think of as shitty people, your solution is probably gong to be to pick a shitty candidate. That’s pretty condescending and likely to play to the voters you’re trying to persuade not as a genuine attempt to speak to their interests, but as a reflection of how little you think of them. Nominating a doddering old Mad Men-era benign racist to take on Trump would be telling the electorate in no uncertain terms, “This is how we see you.” And it is.
When you ask Democrats what the rationale for Biden is, they don’t talk about policy or integrity. What they’ll invariably tell you is that Biden is the best we can do in a country full of troglodytes. Sadly, according to Joy Reid, that goes double for the older black voters who underlie his polling lead. In a recent interview with Time magazine editor-at-large, Anand Giridharadas, addressing Biden’s horrific answer in the 3rd debate regarding how best to address the legacy of slavery, Reid claimed that among black voters over 40 that she’s spoken to, support for Biden isn’t predicated on the premise that he’s not a racist, but entirely on the assumption that America is so racist that he’s the least racist candidate who can win. We can safely assume that was also the reason black voters got behind someone in 2016 who ran an inarguably racist primary campaign against the first black President. How to explain Obama’s two terms then? According to Reid, it was an “aberration,” in the view of her community. So how did Hillary fare with black voters in the general election under the same set of assumptions? Low black turnout ended up being one of the key factors in her loss.
Turns out a lot of African Americans, especially the younger voters who have cut their political teeth on the Black Lives Matter movement, weren’t all that eager to vote for someone who straight out called herself the candidate of “hard working Americans, white Americans,” just a few years earlier. And yet, here we go again. There are videos of Biden floor speeches that make Hillary’s “deplorables” fundraiser look like a James Brown concert. And you can be assured the Trump team has all of them locked and loaded and ready to drop the second he clinches the nomination.
What’s really mind-boggling about Biden’s seemingly unassailable lead is the way that Democrats are once again unerringly honing in like a Tomahawk cruise missile specifically designed to find the least electable person in the field, on one of the few people who could actually lose in 2020. Its kind of uncanny.
As a progressive, I’d love to say that only a progressive can win, but Donald Trump is so fucking awful, I can’t honestly say that. Pretty much everyone in the top to mid-tier would likely beat Trump, with one exception; Joe Biden, and for a lot of the same reasons that Hillary was uniquely positioned to lose to Trump. Biden represents the status quo at a time when the country is desperate for change. He has a checkered enough past on racial issues for Trump to muddy the waters on the question of who’s more racist, probably fighting that issue to a draw. I know, Charlottesville. But Biden helped craft mass incarceration, while Trump signed the first major bill aimed at dismantling it. If I’m working on the Trump campaign, I’m all over that framing. And just like Hillary couldn’t do anything with the corruption angle, in light of the Clinton Foundation’s fairly transparent pay-to-play structure and her $500K speeches to banks, when Biden goes after Trump on that score, Trump will go after his family. And don’t kid yourself, there’s a lot for him to work with there.
Even if you somehow manage to get past all of that, there’s the simple and obvious fact that Joe Biden is clearly in the throes of cognitive decline. I know some in the press are trying to counter that early by making the same claims about Trump, but that’s just wishful thinking. Trump sounds like the same crazy bastard he’s always been. Biden, on the other hand, is not the same Joe Biden. Sure, he was always a gaffe machine, and I’m hearing a lot of Democrats reassuring themselves, with a big assist from the corporate media, that that’s all it is. But that isn’t all it is. “Poor kids are just as smart as white kids” is Biden being who he’s always been; a benign racist who forgets sometimes that what might have made him the “liberal’ in the room when addressing a union hall circa 1975 doesn’t fly anymore. This is different. The Biden we’re seeing today is not the Biden who took on Paul Ryan. This is a man that no responsible parent would trust to watch their kids for fear he might accidentally burn the house down trying to make toast. Senility is one of the few traits that are so definitionally disqualifying that there’s just no getting past it, no matter who the opponent is. So naturally the Democrats think it’s about as good an idea as running a candidate who’s in the middle of an FBI investigation. What could possibly go wrong?
As a result of his early-stage dementia, Biden has fallen apart at various points on stage in every debate thus far and regularly does so even at his own pre-planned, scripted events. What do we think is going to happen when his mind starts to wander in the middle of a debate with the Master of Disaster, Donald J. Trump? Give the devil his due; the man has a nose for weakness and a talent for manipulating the press into adopting his framing. You can already hear Trump’s response to a crazy Biden ramble-fest: “Does anyone understand what he just said? No really, can anyone make any sense out of any of that? What the hell is he talking about? You sound like my dad after he got Alzheimer’s, which is a terrible disease by the way. Its nap time Joe, go home and take a nap, this is too much exertion for you. No really, I’m concerned for you. This is why your buddy Barack told you not to do this Joe. He knew you weren’t up to the strain. And so on. A Biden nomination means an election cycle in which you’re bound to wake up to the headline, “Is Biden Going Senile?” And because he very obviously is going senile, it’s going to stick.
All this to say, he’s very likely to be the nominee. Because these are the Democrats we’re talking about. The New York Mets of politics. If there are ten ways to win and one way to lose, they’ll always find the one way. It’s who they are, as woven into their DNA as choking in the clutch is for my hometown team. As a betting man I can tell you I’ve lost money every time I assumed that the Democrats wouldn’t do the absolute worst thing they could possibly do in any given situation. I’ve never lost money betting against them. The same clueless dumbasses who slapped a “Dated Dean, Married Kerry,” bumper sticker on their cars in ‘04, supremely confident in their political acumen and maturity, are going to proudly march into the voting booths this time around and nominate a man who’s about three years away from needing ‘round-the-clock care. So, if you have any money laying around, put it all on Biden for the primaries and Trump for the general. By the time the Donald gets done wrecking what’s left of the country, you’re probably gonna need the cash.