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    Seven Big Things Biden Got Right

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    The Last Outlaw
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    PostThe Last Outlaw on Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:03 am

    Seven Big Things Biden Got Right D0hec

    Seven Big Things Biden Got Right FACyn

    The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bethea's Byte.

    From Jennifer Rubin to The Washington Post

    Rational or not, those who fear four more years of President Trump are scared out of their wits. They recall the horror and the feeling in the pit of their stomachs when they realized that Hillary Clinton was going to lose the electoral college. Naturally, Election Day 2020 triggers memories of all that and a worry that because things went awry in 2016 they could go awry in 2020. Rather than analyze each poll (which never alleviates anxiety since there is always another poll, and then another), let’s look at what former vice president Joe Biden did right to put him in position for a commanding win.

    Seven Big Things Biden Got Right BB1aC9HL

    For starters, the Biden team never bought into the view that the Democratic Party had shifted far to the left, never confused Twitter with reality, and never gave way to the temptation to chase Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to the most progressive end of the spectrum. Those who said the Republicans in the general election would call any Democratic nominee a “socialist” missed the point. In the general-election debates, Biden could look into the camera and say, “I beat the socialist.” He could remind us he did not back Medicare-for-all. Trump’s cult would believe whatever false allegation Trump spouted, but the mainstream media and a healthy majority of Americans understood Biden was no Sanders. That made Biden an acceptable choice for many centrists, Republicans, ex-Republicans and voters who went for a third party in 2016.

    Second, in that vein, Biden understands that the far left of his party is overwhelmingly White; his base of support and the bedrock of the Democratic Party are not. He understands that African American voters in South Carolina and elsewhere are more moderate than the flank of super-progressive White college-educated voters and that they did not feel like they had the luxury to pick a candidate with pie-in-the-sky progressive aspirations. This election was an existential moment in which they were never ready to take a gamble. They knew Biden. They trusted Biden. They were never prepared to abandon him. Biden in turn hung in there through early defeats until South Carolina. He was right: Black Democrats saved his campaign and propelled him to the nomination.

    Third, to not lose his progressive allies, Biden went out of his way after sealing the nomination to be gracious to Sanders and to include him in policy discussions, as well as to solicit advice from Warren and put forth a Build Back Better agenda that included many items in the progressive wish list (e.g., child care, minimum-wage increase, aggressive investment in green technology). Having buttoned up his support on the left, he did not need to spend the general election fending off progressive attacks. In this, both Sanders and Warren deserve immense credit. They (and Biden’s other former opponents) gave their all for him.

    Fourth, Biden’s team took advantage of negative stereotypes that he was a gaffe-ridden, unfocused campaigner. The time “in his basement” helped as well, allowing him to sharpen his focus, control media exposure and allow Trump to self-destruct. However, with the exception of a moderate bobble on fossil fuel in the last debate (cleaned up quickly after the debate and then overcome by events), it is hard to think of a significant gaffe in the general election. The “undisciplined” Biden remained on message to a degree that shocked many Democrats.

    Fifth, Biden bet that he did not need to be a charismatic, exciting and fresh face. He couldn’t be. If you had asked political reporters in 2019 if Biden had a chance, most would have said no. Here a little knowledge was a dangerous thing. Day after day they saw a lackluster debater and mediocre stump speaker whose verbal acuity could not match other opponents. Biden grasped what political reporters did not: Primary voters did not care about that, and virtually none of them see entire speeches day after day. They wanted steady, safe and electable. Unsurprisingly, the media’s obsession with style was not shared by primary voters desperate to get rid of President Trump.

    Sixth, Biden chose Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate (not a bland figure like Clinton’s pick, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia). Harris injected a burst of enthusiasm, unleased a torrent of fundraising and gave the media the telegenic, high-energy candidate they like to cover. She exceeded expectations in the debate, ran an error-free campaign and, like her boss, stayed firmly on a center-left message. The adage that vice presidents can only hurt, not help, might be wrong in this case. She added plenty to the Biden campaign.

    Seventh, Biden understood that voters would be more impressed with adherence to safety protocols than with big rallies. Big rallies, as many a candidate has learned, are like lawn signs — indicative of virtually nothing. What is important is local media coverage, which Biden accomplished with smaller events and local media interviews. As Trump left millions of COVID-19 infections and hundreds of thousands dead in his wake barnstorming with superspreader events, Biden remained the responsible grownup more concerned about voters than his own ego.

    Biden and his team got a lot of big things right. Honesty, however, compels us to acknowledge that his biggest advantage was that he was not Hillary Clinton. Biden does not have to contend with the kind of irrational hatred Clinton engendered, the seething misogyny, the scandals and the cultural resentment associated with her candidacy — however unfair and exaggerated by the media. Clinton gave Republicans and resentment voters (let’s stop calling them “values voters” since they are driven by cultural and racial resentment) an excuse to vote for Trump. (“I don’t like Trump, but I hate Clinton” was a constant refrain.) Biden gives them no such excuse, so pundits and voters are forced to concoct spurious and attenuated rationalizations if they want to vote for Trump, rationalizations that tell us more about the spinelessness and greed of right-wing media and racial convictions of the MAGA crowd than they do about Trump or Biden.

    In short, Biden has done everything he could to make it really hard for rational, sane and decent people to vote against him. And that is how you win — and win big.

    _________________
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