In a Democrat presidential race packed with over 20 candidates Joe Biden understandably enjoys massive name recognition. The man has been in public office for nearly 1/5th of American history, long enough to hold positions on controversial issues long forgotten by the public. In the 2010’s he was Barrack Obama’s Vice President. In the 2000s he was a supporter and later opponent of the Iraq War. During the 1990s he authored the Crime Bill. In the 1980s he was a presidential candidate caught plagiarizing speeches from British Labour Leader Neil Kinnock. In the 1970s he was a staunch opponent of forced busing. Joe Biden is a man of many eras.
Except the current one. In last month’s debate Biden looked like a lost time traveler from the 1970s. All he was missing were his1970s era haircut and sideburns. Joe Biden’s long public record makes him extremely vulnerable today. On stage, California Senator Kamala Harris savaged Joe Biden for his 1970s era opposition to school busing. For non-American readers, or any reader under 50, school busing was an effort by the courts and the Federal Government to integrate the public-school system in the wake of the Brown v Board of Ed decision which outlawed government imposed racial segregation. Forcibly busing students out of their districts, across towns and cities, became the norm. The idea was unpopular then and remains unpopular now. When asked if Kamala Harris would renew school busing, her press secretary Ian Sams replied, ‘Yes’, which is a very 1970s stance to take.
As Biden pointed out in the debate, Harris was a crime fighting San Francisco district attorney and Califronia attorney general. Harris’ crime fighting past is a political liability in the modern Democrat Party. But she is compensating for this with her school busing attacks, says she supports ‘some kind’ of slavery reparations and has otherwise worked hard to portray herself as the ‘African American’ candidate. Harris’ mother is Indian, her father is Jamaican and she is the descendent of slave…owners. Kamala Harris garners about 15% support in national polls, but a recent poll conducted in South Carolina from July 7th-10th shows her getting only twelve percent support, even though half of Democrat primary voters are black.
American political scientists often speak of a gender gap with women preferring Democrats by 10 to 15 percentage points. But there is an inverse gender gap for Democrats with men. In 2016 Trump won male voters by 11 points. For millions of men voting for Hillary Clinton was like voting for one’s mother-in-law. Which brings us to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. If voting for Hillary was like voting for mother, voting for Warren is like voting for the assistant vice principal. Actually, Warren has the look and feel of a middle school librarian. She has the charisma of one too. One look at Warren and you know she’ll keep the quiet. Before being elected to the senate Warren was a college professor, author of books on financial policy and served at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She is a first-rate policy-wonk with lots of ideas. Warren campaigns on ideas, ideas, ideas; Medicare for all, universal childcare, a living wage, college debt forgiveness. And reaching back all the way to the 1970’s equal pay. Warren has parlayed her policy wonkery into about 15% support in polls.
Gaining another 15% is Bernie Sanders. The senator was born in the 1940’s and hasn’t had a new idea since. In America one still sees New Deal era murals, great works on the sides of public buildings portraying strong, stout, overall wearing men singing Peter Seger and Arlo Guthrie songs while working in lush fields and busy factories. The imagery is positively Soviet. Bernie seems to have stepped out of one of these murals. Bernie’s is a world of New Deal public works projects, government land, farm subsidies, price freezes and wage mandates. Best of all, in Bernie World everything is free. Bernie was kind of cute in 2016, but the wave of socialism he unleashed in 2016 will wash over him. The Democrat Party of 2020, the party of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Muslim American Ilhan Omar and Palestinian American Rashida Tlaib has no use for an old Jew from Brooklyn.
Despite Harris savaging him over ancient racial issues Joe Biden’s supporters are sticking with him. In the latest Emerson Poll taken from July 6th through the 8th Biden still gets 30% of the vote. Thirty percent of the vote is not going to win the Democrat nomination and it’s hard to see how a candidate who is neither black, nor gay, nor female can expand his support in the modern Democrat Party. Other polls show Joe Biden slipping but still in the lead. Over time Bernie’s supporters will migrate to other more intersectionally viable candidates like Harris or Warren. The senator from Vermont will stubbornly hang on and fade away at the same time. Some other candidate will combine her base of support with Bernie’s and eventually surpass Biden. From there she will have to convince American voters that now is the time for 1970’s ideas.