Reacting to the leftward nudge of the party following the victory of some progressive Democrats in the 2018 election, President Trump and his allies began to argue that the Democratic Party wanted to implement “radical socialism”.
This argument wasn’t entirely without merit. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, a freshman Congresswoman from New York, is a self-styled democratic socialist, and several Democratic presidential hopefuls recently began to publicly endorse more ambitious welfare programs than their predecessors, particularly Medicare for All.
This Republican labeling also made political sense. Americans of all income brackets have something at stake in our current system and are understandably wary of a complete overhaul of the economy. While most progressives don’t advocate anything close to a new 5-year plan, their economic ideas are still different enough from the mainstream of American discourse to make many voters uncomfortable.
The President’s strategy was particularly effective during the Democratic presidential primary when the party was strongly divided by progressive candidates such as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Andrew Yang, and more moderate candidates such as Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, and Joe Biden. At times, the progressive wing of the party seemed poised to seize the reins and drag the Democrats sharply to the left.
Suddenly, Joe Biden won South Carolina. Then he won almost every other state after that. Overwhelmingly, Democratic primary voters threw their support behind the most moderate name on the ballot.
Despite this, the President and his allies have not changed their line of attack. They have continued to try to paint their rivals as socialists who want to radically transform America’s economy and society. This argument would be effective if it wasn’t ludicrous.
The truth is, that Joe Biden has been a moderate throughout his career. Early in his Senate career, he formed friendships with southern blue-dog Democrats. He fought for tough on crime legislation . He brought moderation and experience to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid, and as Vice President led a mostly pro-business, pro-banker economic recovery in 2009 . Uncle Joe seems to be much more comfortable holding an icecream cone or his aviators than a sickle or a hammer.
While it is true that Joe Biden does advocate many policies that are left of center, he does not represent the progressive agenda that left-wing Democrats crave. In an effort to unite the Democratic party, he has adopted more progressive stances, but his policies are nowhere close to defunding the police or Medicare for All. It’s telling that on the same night of the Democratic National Convention that Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden, John Kasich, former Republican Governor of Ohio added his endorsement as well.
Claims that a Biden-Harris administration would represent a radical transformation fall particularly short in the area of law enforcement. Seizing on fears following the perception of an increase in crime and disorder in American cities, President Trump and his campaign have argued that Joe Biden wants to defund the police and open the door to anarchy. Both Biden’s statements and Vice Presidential choice refute this claim. Biden has advocated increased funding for the police . He also chose former prosecutor and Attorney General Kamala Harris as his running mate. While serving as California’s AG, Senator Harris opposed legalizing Marijuana , and worked with law enforcement officers every day to put criminals behind bars.
Both Biden and Harris have faced criticism from left leaning voters for these positions. But the fact that these individuals are still largely willing to vote for Biden is telling. This broad appeal represents perhaps the strongest argument for Joe Biden becoming President of the United States; the argument that Trump’s accusations of radicalism try to obscure. Joe Biden is a moderate centrist who represents a return to normalcy for Americans. While many of President Trump’s radical policy promises have failed to materialize, his explosive and divisive rhetoric has never failed to deliver. The President who claimed that there were “good people on both sides” of the violent clash between white nationalist and progressive protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia has accomplished the seemingly impossible. He has contributed to Americans becoming even more divided, and more polarized.
But maybe the moderate candidate who’s convention featured endorsements from Elizabeth Warren, Colin Powel, AOC, John Kasich, Jimmy Carter, Meg Whitman, and Michelle Obama can bring politically and ethnically diverse Americans together in a way that Donald Trump cannot. That possibility, above all else, Is why I am voting for Joe Biden. It’s why you should too.