Joe Biden and the Myth of Electability
The primary appeal of Joe Biden as a Presidential candidate seems to be his electability. The thinking seems to be that yes, Biden may be an imperfect candidate. He’s more than an imperfect candidate: he’s an incredibly flawed contender with a long, ugly history of not only supporting racist polices and bills but introducing them as well.
The notoriously Draconian 1994 Crime Bill that disproportionately affected African-Americans and the poor? That was Joe Biden’s baby. In 2014, he bragged to Time magazine, ““I am not only the guy who did the crime bill and the drug czar, but I’m also the guy who spent years when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee and chairman of [the Senate Foreign Relations Committee] trying to change drug policy relative to cocaine, for example, crack and powder.”
Biden has long been on the wrong side, and the non-Democratic, non-Progressive side of issues like immigration, abortion and climate change as well. He’s a craven, self-satisfied figure of compromise and cowardice whose one big advantage as the Democratic front-runner is that he can ostensibly beat Trump in the general election, unlike such wild cards as Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete and the rest of the Democratic hopefuls.
For Democrats dispirited by three years of Trump and the horrifying prospect of four more years of a demented man-baby in the White House it’s ostensibly better to win with a deeply flawed, intensely white and male candidate like Biden than to lose with a riskier and more inspiring, not to mention less white and male unknown.
The problem, or rather one of the many problems when it comes to Biden as a candidate is that over the course of the last forty years, the American people have continually been given a choice between an establishment candidate who has spent much of their life and career painstakingly putting themselves in a position to first get the nomination of their party and then be elected to the highest office in the land, like Biden, and a crazy wild card candidate infinitely less qualified and suitable for office but far more interesting, unusual and compelling.
And time after time the American people have eschewed the safe choice they were supposed to be vote for, who seemingly earned the Presidency through decades of relevant experience in favor of the unqualified outsider with that ineffable X factor that wins elections.
Take 1980. The American people had a choice between a brilliant future Nobel Prize winner, incumbent President and Governor of Georgia versus a genial b-movie actor who once starred in a movie where he tried to teach morals to a chimpanzee. They went with the Bedtime for Bonzo leading man. In 1992, we chose a sexy young Arkansas governor with a mind and a bod for sin over a World War II hero, head of the CIA, Vice President and President and in 2000 we of course went with the lovable everyman (except that, you know, his daddy being the aforementioned World War II hero, head of the CIA, Vice President and President) that everyone wanted to have a beer with (except that he was a recovering alcoholic for whom even a single beer might pose a serious threat to his health and future) over two-term Vice President and Senator Al Gore, who was all snooty and high falutin’ about being far and away the more qualified and intelligent of the candidates, to an unbecoming degree. We were like, “Fuck you, smart guy! We’re going with the genial Christian idiot who spent the Vietnam War snorting blow and cheerleading.”
In 2008 we chose a biracial community organizer and freshman Senator over John McCain, a big dog of American politics and presidential contender seemingly since time immemorial while in 2016 we went with Rapey McRacist, pussy-grabber, porn star and Playmate hush money-payer and bit player in such films as Home Alone 2, Little Rascals and Ghosts Can’t Do It over a first lady, Secretary of State and Senator uniquely qualified to become our first female president as well as a lightning rod for our nation’s intense and uncontrollable sexism.
So if we look back over the last forty years in presidential politics, the Joe Biden figure who has put decades of work, sweat and unexamined ambition into being an obvious to the point of inevitable president hasn’t fared particularly well while seemingly unlikely and/or unqualified outsiders have consistently over-performed.
So if Biden’s big appeal to you is electability remember that we have a curious habit of rather consistently not electing the safe, “electable” candidate in favor of the insultingly un or under-qualified flake with the flash and dazzle. So if you’re going to vote for Biden because you think he’s a sure thing I would not be quite so sure.
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