By SHINBONE STAR EDITORIAL BOARD
About a year ago, a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates held a series of debates, and during one of the most pivotal exchanges, some of Vice President Joe Biden’s past policy decisions were questioned by Sen. Kamala Harris, who figuratively took a high fastball from Biden and parked it into the upper deck.
Sen. Bernie Sanders also landed solid hits on Biden’s vote for the Iraq War, and in a later debate, the two went at it over health care, with Sanders accusing Biden of “sounding like Trump” with his concerns about Medicare For All.
At the time, it looked like Biden wasn’t going to get to the end of the process and would probably drop out — except for the fact that he was favored in the polls against Trump. As the campaign chugged along through the summer and fall, polling fluctuated among the candidates, but one constant was that Biden was the front-runner, with the polls indicating he could beat Donald Trump.
In late September, Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew into a statistical dead heat with Biden with each pulling about 25 percent. But among Black voters, Biden had a huge lead on the still-crowded field with 36 percent to Sanders’ 12 percent. No other candidate polled in double digits.
Up until that point I figured the reason Joe was doing so well with that area of the electorate was familiarity. For eight years he had been the wingman for the first Black president and did his job well. I compared him to an old sweater that was comfortable to wear once in a while, but because it was so threadbare, if you wore it every day, it would eventually fall apart.
While Biden was being battered from pillar to post in the campaign, by late fall it was clear he had a firm hold on the majority of Black support. The question then was who would get that vote once Biden dropped out, which still seemed likely.
It wouldn’t be Harris because she dropped out in early December when her funding ran short and after Mayor Pete Buttegieg surged to the lead in late November. By January, Cory Booker had also dropped out after failing to gain enough traction.
For months, pundits had wondered why Booker and Harris hadn’t been able to cut into Biden’s lead, and when Buttigieg jumped to the front, it took a minute to realize he not only had less support among Black voters than they, in fact he had ZERO support. None.
The Iowa caucuses were exposed in this campaign, as was the New Hampshire primary. Neither state has an electorate that truly represents the breadth and scope of the Democratic Party, and that was demonstrated by Biden’s blowout victory in South Carolina, driven by massive support among Black voters.
One might wonder why Black voters show such faith in Biden, and the answer is not that they trust Biden, it’s that they don’t trust White voters — and rightfully so because White America replaced Obama with Donald J. Trump.
When Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential campaign (by 77,000 votes across three big Electoral College states) some folks said it wasn’t because Americans weren’t ready to elect a woman president, they just weren’t ready to elect THAT woman.
Clinton’s loss was initially blamed on low Black turnout, but after having a “Kenyan Muslim Socialist” as president it seems America was ready for ANY white man, and that’s exactly what we got. Trump exemplifies NOTHING of the American Dream of making it by way of one’s own effort. He is almost a mirror-image caricature of the Chauncey Gardner character from the 1979 film “Being There.”
Born into wealth, Trump was a millionaire by age 3. Any hurdles encountered in his life were pushed over; every rough patch smoothed out by his family wealth. Yet all he does is whine about how unfair everything and everyone is to him.
Nothing has been more unfair to Trump than the COVID-19 pandemic — or so he would have us believe. His whole re-election campaign was based on his ability to crow about the state of the economy and lie about the amount of credit he is due.
Knowing the ability of the legacy media to thoroughly muddle the fact that Trump was lying through his teeth, it might actually have been a winning strategy. However, with COVID-19 killing more than 120,000 people to date and causing the collapse of the economy (if you don’t count the stock market), and leaving 40 million people out of work over the last three months and with no end in sight, the economy became a tough sell.
With the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, even the pandemic couldn’t contain the revulsion of hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets in protest and have remained mobilized for nearly a month. The heavy-handed police response galvanized more and more people to join the protest. Then the Trump Administration literally loosed their no-insignia “secret police” on a crowd of peaceful protestors near the White House.
There is a hardcore baseline of Trump supporters who will back him no matter what. But the majority of Americans sees his inept, chaotic handling of the pandemic, his endless recital of racial grievances and resentment to be wanting in terms of leadership. Trump is a nasty, whining brute who cares for no one beyond his circle. He only beats the drum for national security so that he can wield the nation’s power for his own benefit.
Americans with any personal depth recognize that Trump and his sycophants in the Republican Party couldn’t care less about any person who is not part of their donor base.
Contrast that with Biden. If there is one thing Biden has, it is his capacity for empathy. Without reciting the man’s life story — one that is filled with personal tragedy — almost everyone agrees that Biden, at his core, is a decent man. Even those who aren’t enthused about his policy positions admit he is a nice guy who may be prone to mistakes of familiarity.
During a recent interview, Biden opined to a black radio host that if he needed a specific reason to vote for him over Trump, “Then you ain’t Black!”
Of course that caused a furor until Trump said something really stupid.
But you know something? A 78-year-old white guy who was wingman to the coolest guy in the world for eight years felt damn comfortable saying the “quiet part” out loud, which basically is this: “You need me and I need you.” I’ll take the awkward ally over the virulent racist sociopath any day.
The problem for Trump and the GOP is that the old game plan they’re running is not exactly matched to the game they’re in. After more than a decade of white identity politics, vilifying the Black president and a woman they swore ran a pedophile sex ring in the basement of a pizza parlor, their culture war playbook doesn’t have a strategy for going against an old white guy. So they have to run on their policies? Yeah, good luck with that.
Trump was afraid this moment would come. The last guy he wanted to face was Biden. Trump even got himself impeached for trying to shake down Ukraine’s president for dirt on Biden.
Trump and his campaign are doing their level best to convince voters that Biden suffers from dementia, that Biden is a sexual predator, and that Biden would be soft on China. Trump knows he can’t match Biden in terms of character, so his strategy is to do as much as he can to bring Biden down to his level so they can then wrestle in the mud. Yeah, good luck with that, too, Donnie.
The late Maya Angelou said: “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”
They know Joe Biden as “Uncle Joe.”
They know Trump’s a snake because he told them so.
We believe them both the first time.
It is why The Shinbone Star firmly and without reservation endorses Joe Biden for president.