Opinion | Morgan Liddick: ‘Party of diversity’ set to nominate rich, old, white guy
On Your Right
So Joe Biden has a pulse after all. And thanks to his competitors in the so-called “moderate” lane of the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries — most of whom lit out for the tall timber the moment it appeared the party’s nomenclature decided he was the one to carry the banner of evolutionary socialism against Trump the Evil in the upcoming presidential election — his campaign has been removed from life support. Thanks to the aid promised by at least one of his billionaire rivals in the primaries, money and organization appear to have vanished as challenges, as well. After knocking Mike Bloomberg out of the race, Biden has received pledges of both from the man who swore to “… spend a billion dollars to defeat Donald Trump.” Because, you know, he just really hates the guy.
Which indicates problems both for the Democratic Party and for the nation at large. For the former because hate is not a set of policies and a single-minded concentration on “who can beat Trump” deprives Democrats of opportunities to discuss different approaches to challenges facing our nation. The lack of these discussions in turn deprives candidates of opportunities to refine their messages and their underlying plans, leaving them vulnerable to unanticipated challenges. It also leads to unaddressed questions about the party’s future direction. Will it choose the socialist-lite road, hoping to cook the national frog by turning up government control so slowly that the poor creature won’t notice until it’s too late, or will it go all out for nationalization in the name of all who expect something for nothing? This small but important distinction between the party’s two wings will remain unresolved so long as it can be papered over with a unity of personal loathing for the president, which has been festering since he declared his candidacy.
For the nation, concentration on hate as the driver of politics deprives us all of rational discussion of policies and ideas, which might actually produce better outcomes for our country and our fellow citizens. We might debate which is better, health care provided by for-profit corporations overseen by government or by the sort of people in charge of the post office and the DMV, but when the comparison is between the remarkable growth in employment under Trump and his occasionally malodorous tweets, well … that is a comparison neither apt nor useful.
On the wilder shores of the party’s left, the decks have been cleared for Bernie Sanders to continue his quixotic quest. Neither the poor old sap, who has probably lost at least Florida with his latest bromantic musings on the great accomplishments of Fidel Castro, nor his hard-core followers will acknowledge the fact that the party’s coalescence around Biden effectively freezes him out of a chance at Trump — for the second time. His only hope at the moment is to do well enough in the progressive bastions of the upper Midwest and West to deny the current frontrunner an outright majority, leading to a brokered convention. The last time this happened to Democrats was 1952, when party bosses threw over Sen. Estes Kefauver, who had won 12 of the party’s 15 primaries, in favor of Adeli Stephenson. Dwight Eisenhower was elected as a result and served two terms.
As a contrast, consider Biden. In backing him, the party might have settled for the candidate whose best argument is “It’s my turn.” If Bernie’s chief strength is his sincerity of belief, Biden’s might be his utter willingness to do and say whatever is necessary to gain an electoral victory, no matter how self-contradictory, outlandish, wrong or just plain disconnected from reality — provided he can remember what it is he has been told to say. He knows that any disconnection or gaffe, no matter how eyebrow-raising, will immediately be painted over by party officials and made to vanish by a cooperative and engaged media. Because there’s Trump to defeat.
None of which is to say that the contest isn’t worth keeping an eye on, if for no other reason than its theatre-of-the-absurd qualities. Thanks to the Democrats’ frenzied jockeying out of mortal fear of being called what they are — the self-proclaimed “party of diversity, openness and tolerance” — it is now represented by two old, rich, white guys. And Trump will be the younger of the two candidates running for president.
You just can’t make this up.
Morgan Liddick’s column “On Your Right” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. Liddick spent 27 years working for the U.S. Foreign Service, primarily living abroad. He also spent 12 years teaching U.S. history and Western civilization at community colleges in Colorado and Texas. He lived in Summit County as recently as 2015. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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