Within this Pivotal Political Era, Joe Biden Represents Calm for Many.
How Mr. Biden is fitting in to the democratic race, and what progressives must do to challenge him.
Since 2016 the ideological divide between progressives and centrists within the Democratic Party has only become more pronounced, and our ever growing number of Presidential candidates has only served to reflect that. Progressive candidates like Bernie Sanders have risen through the ranks, but the more moderate Pete Buttigieg has not been far behind. Up until April 25th however, one of the top candidates hadn’t even announced.
Since the start of the 2020 election cycle Joe Biden has been consistently among the leaders in the early polls, and was welcomed to the race with open arms by the media when he released the long anticipated announcement video.
Instead of highlighting particular policy proposals like other candidates, Joe Biden used his campaign announcement video to launch a fierce attack against Donald Trump’s message, and the emboldening of racism and bigotry that has accompanied his Presidency. Biden discussed the violence that resulted in the death of a counter-protester in Charlottesville, Virginia at a white supremacist rally a couple years back, and cited the President declaring there were very fine people on both sides as a pivotal moment that made him decide he could not stand by.
Even based on this video alone, it’s very easy to see how Joe Biden could invoke a strong sense of nostalgia for the democrats that miss the days of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Like Mr. Biden, there is a significant portion of the party that views Trump not as a symptom of a larger much more significant issue, but the illness itself. Mr. Biden represents a significant portion of the party who misses the days when we weren’t confronted with the ugly side of our nation day in and day out, and that is incredibly powerful. Especially now, people understandably appreciate a candidate who even with just the tone of his voice, is able to invoke a sense of calm.
Mr. Biden’s announcement offered an interesting insight in to how he has chosen to position himself — at least early on — in this jam packed race for the democratic nomination. He didn’t address differences between himself and other candidates, but instead seemed to identify himself as the uniting figure that could heal the country and bring it back to what it was before the days of Trump.
I do not count myself among Biden’s supporters. I am part of the younger, progressive generation who feels that the time for the incremental change and a return to the status quo that Biden represents is over and gone. His advocacy for the 1994 crime bill is a skeleton in his closet that I absolutely cannot ignore. That being said, it is absolutely crucial for progressives to understand and acknowledge what Joe Biden means to the democratic party, and do their best not to underestimate the incredible amount of support he has among members of the establishment, and a good amount of the party base as well.
Between name recognition, the nostalgia effect, and the money pouring in from top donors, there is no denying that Mr. Biden will be a force to reckon with for the progressive candidates in the coming months, and likely up until the end of the primary season. If they plan on winning this election and putting up a fight for the progressive cause in this next election, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, and others must not underestimate what Joe Biden brings to the table. They have to acknowledge what he means to a significant portion of the party, but at the same time refuse to shy away from just criticisms of his past voting record and beliefs.