A Final Joe Biden Plea on Super Tuesday Morning
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
I am not in a Super Tuesday state. If I were, I would be voting for Joe Biden. I've explained my thinking in a blog post that takes the form of an open letter to Vice President Biden, which I also posted on FB and Tweeted two days ago. Even in the short span of time since I wrote that, much has happened to further my strong belief that a Biden candidacy is our best bet to defeat Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary and to defeat Donald Trump in the general election.
Military analogies are inevitably problematic, but Biden truly faces a two-front battle. That battle is especially hard because for it to succeed, he cannot lay waste to those defeated in the first campaign. It is entirely necessary that the progressive wing of the Democratic party embrace Biden as the nominee if, as I truly hope, Biden prevails. Biden has now received the support of Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and Beto O'Rourke.
There is an ironic, and two-edged sword, quality to all of this. These endorsements signal to people like me, center-left Democratic voters, that Biden has the greatest prospect of restoring drastically needed stability and decency to the White House after the debacle that has characterized the Trump administration. It further signals that Biden is virtually certain to surround himself as President with a remarkable team of advisors, including some candidates who, as my open letter explained, I preferred as the Democratic nominee. At the same time, however, these endorsements risk signaling to Bernie Sanders supporters that the establishment is doing all it can to prevent his self-styled democratic socialist revolution.
I will not explain here why I believe Sanders would be a terribly mistaken choice as Democratic nominee--I have explained why I do not share the Democratic socialist vision and why I do not support the Sanders candidacy in prior posts. But I will say that we are at a critical moment that will affect the future of our constitutional democracy and, without exaggeration, the world. This is the most important election of our lifetimes. Each cycle, people say that. This time it is true.
When Donald Trump won the presidency, President Barack Obama publicly stated that Trump had generated remarkable enthusiasm among a base set of conservative voters who until then had not been engaged, and that this was powerful. Obviously Obama could not have been more diametrically opposed to Trump on virtually every conceivable issue and in the manner by which the two men have comported themselves throughout their lives. Despite their sharp disagreements, Joe Biden will need to exhibit that same spirit of generosity, indeed more so, with respect to Bernie Sanders and his supporters should Biden prevail. Whatever one thinks of Sanders the candidate or of Democratic socialism, the fact remains that Sanders likewise has generated a remarkable enthusiasm, especially but not exclusively among young voters, in ways that have profoundly affected the 2016 and 2020 election cycles. Biden supporters must concede, even admire, that commitment, along with Sanders's remarkable tenacity, even as those like me are convinced that Sanders is the wrong person to right the nation. Yes, we must do all we can to ensure that Biden succeeds. But in doing so, it is also vital to recognize that the campaign we are hoping to defeat must, if Biden succeeds, join as our partners.
Politics often appears a bloodsport, but it is more. It is a means by which accomplishing what is great often demands accommodating what is merely good, and yes, sometimes also what is problematic. For a Biden victory to succeed, Biden himself, and those supporting him, must exhibit a profound sense of appreciation for, and empathy toward, those whose commitment to a more revolutionary candidate they do not share. Respect does not imply agreement; accommodation and compromise do not imply lack of principle. It implies understanding that politics is not a quest for perfection. It is a hard fought battle for making our nation, and the world, better.
I hope everyone reading this who is voting today, Super Tuesday, will vote for Joe Biden. I hope Biden scores a series of outcomes that well exceed expectations. And I hope that this sets the Democratic party, and our nation, on a much needed path to victory.
Most importantly, I hope it sets us all on path to restoration, decency, and honor.
Thank you. I welcome your comments.
Postscript: It has taken a while to find the precise Barack Obama quote, which followed an exchange with Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Here is the exchange in full:
Q. Thanks, Mr. President. Given some of the harsh words you had about Mr. Trump, calling him "temperamentally unfit to be Commander in Chief," did anything surprise you about President-elect Trump when you met with him in your office? And also I want to know, does anything concern you about a Trump Presidency?
The President. Well, we had a very cordial conversation. And that didn't surprise me to some degree, because I think that he is obviously a gregarious person. He's somebody who, I think, likes to mix it up and to have a vigorous debate. And what's clear is that he was able to tap into, yes, the anxieties, but also the enthusiasm of his voters in a way that was impressive. And I said so to him, because I think that to the extent that there were a lot of folks who missed the Trump phenomenon, I think that connection that he was able to make with his supporters that was impervious to events that might have sunk another candidate, that's powerful stuff.