You’ll recall that when I emailed my primary picks in mid-February, I warned that things could change fast. Wow. They sure did.
My top two choices, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, dropped out this week, as did Tom Steyer. And in a fit of political correctness that gives aid and comfort only to Trump, MSNBC forced Chris Matthews to resign.
Before I tell you why I’m shifting my vote to Joe Biden, I want to share with you what several friends told me about Bernie Sanders, who I believe would re-elect Trump. One friend told me that I had “bought into the establishment narrative” that Bernie can’t win, or words to that effect. Another friend told me there’s no difference between the parties, and that only Bernie would bring about real change, and if Bernie wasn’t nominated, young people wouldn’t vote for the Democrat. A third friend mentioned the “conspiracy” that denied Bernie the nomination in 2008. Bernie himself said yesterday that Biden's endorsements by Rep. Jim Clyburn, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Beto O’Rourke, merely showed that the “corporate elite” were trying to stop him.
My next book that I’ve begun writing is about fake history before Trump. The consensus research into why people believe untruths say that it’s impossible to persuade people who are trapped in circular thinking and conspiracy theories that facts are facts. So if you really believe there’s no difference between the parties, that Bernie is the victim of a gigantic conspiracy by the billionaires who control our lives, and that the world is black-and-white, a zero-sum game, you’ll keep believing it.
But for those folks who are part of the reality-based community, here’s the facts:
1) I will vote for Bernie if he’s nominated (or Bloomberg or Warren). Although I disagree with him about mandatory Medicare for all (I’d prefer a Medicare Advantage option for all) and his old votes supporting the NRA (for which he’s apologized), I do agree with him on a more balanced policy in the Middle East, and his heart is in the right place. He’s not evil. He’s a good, caring human being.
2) I hope Bernie doesn’t get the nomination because I do believe the popular wisdom that he cannot win most of the swing states. This is hardly the establishment narrative. It’s based on history, on demographics, on culture, on polls. I’m not the only one who believes this, which is why Trump and Putin are encouraging Republicans and independents to vote for Bernie; Trump and Putin believe he’ll be the weakest candidate.
3) No one stole the 2016 nomination from Bernie. Hillary won 55 percent of the popular vote in the primaries; Bernie won 43 percent. Yes, the chair of the DNC was a Hillary supporter who tried to tip the scale, but Hillary really was the top choice of the majority of primary votes. And if the 2020 convention goes to a second ballot, it won’t be because of a conspiracy against Bernie; it will be because he didn't get a majority of the delegates. Moreover, it was Sanders supporters who wrote the rules for this year’s convention, as Elizabeth Warren pointed out.
4) The “corporate elite” aren’t trying to stop Bernie. Well-meaning people who have a lot of knowledge about elections and who want the toughest Trump opponent are trying to stop Bernie. I’m trying to stop Bernie.
Now let’s talk about Joe Biden.
Joe was my senator when I lived in Delaware for a couple of years. He started his career as a young anti-war candidate, and he’s kept the faith, so to speak, with progressive values.
He’s not perfect. He once plagiarized remarks by a British politician. Yes, he tried to be civil with bigots like Strom Thurmond and others, even as he opposed what they were doing. He talks too much. He sometimes talks before he thinks. And like any human being who’s running for president, he sometimes makes mistakes, like talking about “Super Thursday” instead of Super Tuesday. He sometimes takes more credit for things than he deserves. The start of his campaign was painfully slow, and made it seem like he was slowing down mentally—something he’s more than refuted in the last three or four debates.
I’d prefer a young candidate, although he’s younger than both Bernie and Bloomberg. It’s virtually a given that he will ask a younger woman to be his running mate—perhaps Amy, perhaps a woman of color like Kamala Harris or Stacey Abrams.
I’m not a member of the billionaire class. I’m coalescing around Joe because he supports public funding of elections as a way to castrate that “billionaire class.” And he’s supported it publicly since he ran against Barack in 2008. (Barack didn’t make him his running mate because of his political clout. He became VP because Barack was impressed by his intellect.)
I’m supporting Joe because he was the first major national politician to support gay marriage. Because he really was Barack’s closest adviser, and because he pushed Barack to take more progressive positions.
Joe will be able to stand toe-to-toe with Trump on the debate stage—something Bloomberg clearly can’t do. Unlike Bloomberg, Joe does have a way of connecting with people, and showing his passion. Most important, Joe can talk in aspirational terms—not just about what’s wrong.
He can bring the votes and the swing states with him.
He can beat Trump, and bring decency and humanity back to public discourse.