Gaffe-prone Joe Biden – despite his current healthy lead in the polls – is, at 76 years of age, sure to have his ability to function as president questioned harshly by the younger Democratic candidates. His rivals may not have attacked him yet on age, but they’re stalking their prey, waiting for an opportune moment to strike.
Frankly, it is near to impossible to imagine that Barack Obama’s vice president can escape age concerns for the next 14-and-a-half months of grueling campaigning, through the snows of New Hampshire, a 14-state Super Tuesday less than a month later, and nearly a dozen televised debates between now and next spring, when the nominee will likely become clear.
Should he manage to pull it off, even voters who dislike President Donald Trump are likely to prefer the 74-year-old devil whose presidency they know to the slightly older devil whose presidency might have to be run by those around him — appointees certain to be significantly to Biden’s left. And even a softening Trump economy is going to look and feel pretty good to voters in November of next year.
Should Biden not get the nomination — a more likely outcome — it will be Trump vs. some species or other of out-and-out socialist, scampering to the center as soon as the nomination is tied up, yet trying to keep energized a Democratic grassroots so radicalized it now considers Obamacare too tame.
That makes things look win-win for Trump right now, despite current polls that suggest he will lose, but that don’t reflect the effects on the electorate of what the general election campaign strategy of either nominee will be.
The unelectability of Democrats gone too far left is, of course, a familiar phenomenon. There was George McGovern and his three A’s — acid, amnesty and abortion — who, after a convention so contentious he couldn’t give his acceptance speech until nearly 3 a.m., managed to win but one state.
After a presidency that included 21.5% interest rates, nearly 8% unemployment, inflation exceeding 13%, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iran hostage crisis and his disastrous Desert One rescue attempt, President Jimmy Carter lost re-election in a landslide in 1980, winning only six states.
After promising to raise taxes, his vice president, Fritz Mondale, lost every state but his home state of Minnesota four years later.
And in 1988, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who years earlier broke a no-tax-increase campaign promise, couldn’t fight off Henry Kissinger’s charge that he had a “visceral, negative” regard for the U.S. military. He carried only 10 states.
Seeming To Move Right Saved The Party
It took a Southern governor who portrayed himself as a moderate, with a Southern senator touted as a conservative as his running mate, to bring a Democrat back into the White House. But even Bill Clinton and Al Gore might not have won in 1992 had independent Ross Perot not garnered nearly 19% of the vote.
Today, of course, the country’s demographics have moved decidedly left. The largest state, California, and the heavily populated urban-dominated Northeast are now close to impossible for a Republican presidential nominee to win. GOP landslides, once routine, today appear beyond the wildest hopes.
What gives Trump a massive leg up, however, is that while key segments of the electorate have moved left, the most consequential Democratic politicians have moved much further left.
Leave aside the fact that the Democrats who are the most colorful and enjoy the greatest attention from the press are open socialists: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and her three fellow “Squad” members, from Boston, Detroit and Minneapolis, who have the ability to disrupt and embarrass Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Of more consequence is that the candidate who now seems most likely to defeat Biden for the nomination has appropriated independent socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposed policies.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would abolish private health insurance, have the federal government give illegal aliens health care, not let the owners of public companies control their own firms, and commit to restricting the United States’ ability to use nuclear weapons during an era when more countries than ever possess weapons of mass destruction, and the nuclear threat from both China and Russia is growing significantly.
Even if you subtract Warren’s support of AOC’s Green New Deal, the extreme low-end estimated cost of which is more than $50 trillion over 10 years, she’d still easily be the furthest-left Democratic nominee ever.
The two-party system shows no signs of ending any time soon, and in American politics the pendulum always swings back to the other party eventually. The next “Bill Clinton,” however — a Democrat sometime in the future who finds a way to convince voters that he or she is a non-extremist “new kind of Democrat” deserving of the White House — can be expected to make Barack Obama look like a conservative by comparison.
— Written by Thomas McArdle
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