The biggest threat to Donald Trump winning a second term in the White House officially threw his hat into the ring last week.
Former Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday he will seek the Democratic nomination for president next year. In typical Democratic fashion, Biden broke out one of his party’s favorite weapons, the race card, in making his announcement, referring to controversial comments Trump made following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
Democrats, who spent the Obama administration painting anybody who had an honest disagreement with the nation’s 44th president on virtually anything as a racist or bigot, surely approved of Biden’s rollout. Whether they are fond enough of the former VP to make him their 2020 nominee, however, remains to be seen.
A former longtime U.S. senator from Delaware who was born in Pennsylvania, Biden has the political bona fides to make re-election a real struggle for Trump, who won in 2016 by winning over blue collar voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, states rarely carried by Republicans in recent presidential elections.
Biden, however, has a reputation for doing well with that same category of voter, and he could prove an attractive alternative for individuals in that demographic who would like to see someone more statesman-like — but not a far lefty — in the White House.
The problem for Biden, however, is he may have a tougher time winning the nomination of his own party than he would a general election. Why?
•He’s 76 and white, not a combination that plays well these days in the party of identity politics. “To many Democrats, the worst-case scenario in a field of historic diversity would be the nomination of a septuagenarian white male moderate,” The New York Times wrote in an article about Biden on Sunday.
•He has a past. In case you haven’t noticed, today’s alt-left stands ready to destroy and wipe from history anybody who has committed sins they find unacceptable, despite whatever good those people may have accomplished in their lives. Along those lines, they’re going to make Biden answer for his handling, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings in 1991, his support of anti-crime bills in the Senate in the 1980s and ’90s, and his criticism of court-ordered busing in the 1970s.
•He has been accused of inappropriately touching women. Biden has promised to be more aware of personal space moving forward.
•He may not be liberal enough. In a column for the New Republic about Biden and the other Democratic contenders, George Will wrote, “One or more of Biden’s rivals have endorsed, or at least deemed conversation-worthy, many ideas not uppermost in most voters’ minds: socialism, the Green New Deal, packing the Supreme Court, abolishing ICE and the Electoral College, free college, votes for 16-year-olds, ‘Medicare for All’ (and private health insurance for no one), etc.” While those wacky ideas may not appeal to moderate voters, they do to many on the far left who are likely to vote in next year’s Democratic primaries.
Does all this mean Biden can’t win the Democratic nomination? Nope. Nor would a Biden nomination automatically mean a Trump loss or a Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders or Cory Booker nomination signal Trump’s re-election. If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that nothing is assured until the voters have their say.
But it will be fascinating to see whether Democrats will take the chance of passing over their most electable candidate for one with a more far-left profile. Doing so may make them feel good, but it might also go a long way toward helping Trump retain those Northern blue collar voters who put him in the White House three years ago.
Lew Gilliland is assistant editor of The Daily Home. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.